Space Industry Expert: How and Why to Pursue a Space Career

Dylan Taylor
9 min readOct 24, 2023

Do you look up at the night sky, marvel at rocket launches, find spacecraft endlessly fascinating, or simply seek greater frontiers to explore? If so, then space may be the right career for you. As we expand our collective efforts to explore space, the number and range of job opportunities — globally — is growing at a fast clip with increasing diversity across the space sector.

The space industry is almost as vast and promising as the celestial bodies and events upon which it is centered. Whether you’re interested in studying planetary phenomena, constructing advanced observatories, conducting experiments in microgravity, looking for extraterrestrial life, or personally venturing into space on exploratory missions, the space field offers countless opportunities for you. Better yet, the space industry is growing, with sectors like aerospace engineering, astronomy-based physics, and operations technology all exhibiting above-average job outlook projections in the coming years.

You may wonder how to bring such ambitious goals to fruition. Luckily, thanks to the industry’s range of employment pathways, a space-related job is more than tangible with the right preparations.

Reasons to Enter the Field

Motivation for entering the space field will hinge on your unique interests, skills, and professional aspirations. These ambitions should revolve around an overarching desire to innovate and push boundaries — these values are the lifeblood of a far-reaching, fruitful industry.

Broadly speaking, reasons to join the space field may include:

* Innovation and Advancement

The space industry is a hotbed of innovation, regularly producing and implementing cutting-edge technologies, which can be vital for understanding space, bolstering applicable research, and monitoring and safeguarding our planet. A career in space allows you to continually learn and apply new skills, foster personal growth, and revolutionize an already dynamic field.

* Collaboration, Diversity, and Inspiration

Space exploration increasingly involves worldwide cooperation, promoting diversity and public/private sector collaboration. Engaging with people from around the world can enhance your cultural awareness and communication skills. Given expanded access to all sectors of society also affords women, persons of color, LGBTQ+, and disabled individuals greater opportunities to play important roles. What’s more, your work may inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers.

* Economic Growth

The space industry is a significant driver of economic growth, offering job opportunities, promoting entrepreneurial ventures, and supporting integration and growth in related sectors like aerospace and satellite communication. Participation in the industry spurs its substantial infrastructural investments to stimulate local economies and create educational and training-based programs to prepare future workforces. Contrary to the old notion of ‘spending money in space and not on Earth,’ every paycheck to every person in the space sector is on Earth (with the exception of the few people who live in space, of course).

The Path to a Space Career

Obtaining a career in the space industry requires a strategic, personalized approach. You should start by establishing an educational foundation informed by your underlying interest in the field. Go with your passions. In most cases, this will manifest as a bachelor’s degree in a related concentration like aerospace engineering, astrophysics, computer science, or biomedicine. Beyond this point, a master’s or doctorate degree can augment your skills en route to more specialized roles in research and development.

Along the way, consider engaging in internships or co-op programs with space-related organizations. These opportunities provide practical experiences and professional connections that can prove invaluable later. As the space sector continues to expand, construction and operations degrees will be needed — both for launch facilities on Earth and for settlements on other worlds.

Networking is always important. Attending industry conferences, seminars, and workshops can help you connect with professionals and learn about industry developments. Grabbing speakers in the hallway after a presentation or at a reception is often a great way to get advice and possibly internships. Meanwhile, space-related clubs or organizations — both on and off-campus — can also broaden your professional network and boost your foundational experience.

As you approach graduation, start researching potential employers. Major players like NASA, SpaceX, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin are well-known but don’t overlook smaller, innovative startups. In the past decade, the number of start-ups has blossomed. Center your resume and cover letter on relevant skills and experiences. From here, you should begin applying and interviewing for positions, which can be highly competitive. To increase your chances of employment, be sure to highlight your passions for space research, problem-solving abilities, and adaptability skills during interviews — and be prepared to demonstrate your technical knowledge and problem-solving skills. Practicing with friends and mentors is a good way to get ready for those interviews.

Even after you land a job, you should remain open to ongoing education and development opportunities. Always improving and expanding your skill set can help you stay updated on revolving trends and paradigm shifts in an ever-changing sector. Consider pursuing certifications, attending workshops, and seeking mentorship from seasoned professionals.

Above all, stay committed to your inherent goals and values in becoming a space professional. Don’t take no for an answer — most astronauts have applied multiple times as have students seeking doctoral and post-doctoral positions. The disappointments may get you down but persistence can make you stronger.

While the process of obtaining space sector employment is far from simple or easy, the rewards greatly outweigh the challenges. Through perseverance and undying vision, you can give yourself the best chance of making a positive impact on this timelessly relevant field.

Unlike nearly every other job available, there is no limit to what we can explore in space! And there is a job waiting for you. You just need to decide to go find it.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com on October 24, 2023.

Dylan Taylor at the TWIN Conference in London

About Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader, commercial astronaut, thought leader and philanthropist. Currently, Dylan serves as Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space, a multi-national space exploration firm focused on building the next generation of space infrastructure for NASA and other global space agencies.

Dylan has been recognized by Harvard University, SpaceNews, the BBC, the Financial Times, Pitchbook,CNBC, CNN and others as having played a seminal role in the growth of the private space industry. As an early-stage investor in more than 50 emerging space ventures, including Axiom, Kepler, York, Astrobotic, LeoLabs, Relativity, and Planet, Dylan is widely considered the most active private space investor in the world.

Dylan’s technical background, global business experience and unbridled passion for space make him a unique figure within his industry. As a thought leader and futurist, he has written many popular pieces on the future of the space industry for Forbes, FastCompany, Newsweek, SpaceNews, The Space Review, and Space.com. As a speaker, Dylan has keynoted many of the major space conferences around the world and has appeared regularly on Bloomberg, Fox Business, and CNBC.

Dylan has extensive global business experience as both a board director and CEO in several industries, including advanced electronics, finance and real estate. He previously served as a Director for UMB Bank, a Fortune 500 company based in Kansas City and as a mutual fund director for the Jackson Funds where he oversaw assets of $8B across 130 distinct funds. He has also served in the roles of CEO, President and Board Director for multinational companies like Prudential PLC, Honeywell, Colliers and Jones Lang LaSalle. Dylan was recognized as a Fortune 1000 CEO with P&L responsibility in excess of $3B and operations encompassing 15,000 employees in over 60 countries. In addition, Dylan has participated in 4 IPOs over the course of his career.

Dylan is a leading advocate of space manufacturing and the utilization of in-space resources to further space exploration and settlement. In 2017, he became the first private citizen to manufacture an item in space when the gravity meter he co-designed and commissioned was 3D printed on the International Space Station. The historic item is now housed in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Dylan is an explorer of note. On December 11th, 2021 Dylan became just the 606th human to go to space as part of the crew of Blue Origin’s NewShepard Mission 19. Accordingly, Dylan earned his commercial astronaut wings with the FAA and his universal astronaut wings from the Association of Space Explorers.

He is also one of only a handful of humans to have descended to the deepest part of the world’s oceans, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench as part of the Limiting Factor Expedition in July of 2022. In that mission, Dylan descended with pilot Victor Vescovo to a depth in excess of 10,800 meters (35,500 feet) into an area of the Mariana Trench that had never been visited by humans. Dylan is the youngest human to have been to the deepest part of the world’s oceans and crossed the Karman line into Space. Dylan has been a member of the Explorers Club since 2014.

Dylan maintains an extensive philanthropic impact on the space industry. In 2017, Dylan founded the nonprofit and social movement, Space for Humanity, which seeks to democratize space exploration and develop solutions to global issues through the scope of human awareness to help solve the world’s most intractable problems. Space for Humanity has successfully sent two citizen astronauts to space via Blue Origin including both the first Mexican-born woman (Katya Echazareta), and first African-born woman (Sara Sabry). Building upon his passion and support for the space industry, Dylan serves as a strategic advisor for both the Archmission and the Human Spaceflight Program and is a co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which promotes the growth of commercial space activity. Additionally, he is also a leading benefactor to the Brooke Owens Fellowship, Patti Grace Smith Fellowship and Mission: Astro Access.

Dylan is the founder and Chairman of Multiverse Media, an integrated global media company focused on science and technology, with an emphasis on space. Multiverse is the parent company of the popular space philosophy website 2211.world as well as the Ad Astra Dinners, a Jeffersonian-style dinner series featuring some of the world’s leading influencers discussing the future of humanity in space. Another subsidiary of Multiverse Media, Multiverse Publishing, publishes books by leading authors including Frank White, Isaac Asimov and Gerard K. O’Neill. Multiverse is also the executive producer of the documentary film, The High Frontier and the forthcoming film, Fortitude.

For his influence as a global leader and his commitment to creating a positive impact on the world, Dylan has been honored with numerous personal and professional accolades in recent years. The World Economic Forum recognized Dylan as a Young Global Leader in 2011 and a full member of the World Economic Forum in 2014. That same year he was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. In 2020, Dylan was recognized by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation with their top honor for business and finance, following in the footsteps of 2019’s inaugural winner, the late Paul Allen
and subsequent winners Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

Dylan Taylor earned an MBA in Finance and Strategy from the Booth School of Business at University of Chicago and holds a BS in Engineering from the honors college at the University of Arizona, where he graduated Tau Beta Pi and in 2018 was named Alumnus of the year. He is also a graduate of the Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century program at Harvard University.

Dylan and his family reside in Denver, Colorado where he is active locally with Colorado Concern and theColorado Spaceport. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys hiking, competing in triathlons and spending time outdoors. As a weekend warrior athlete, Dylan has more than 25 top ten finishes and 25 age group wins to his credit, and he regularly interviews world class athletes whom have shown extraordinary resilience as the host of the Legendary Podcast. He is married to legal expert, consultant and author Gabrielle V. Taylor with whom he has two teenage daughters.

--

--

Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader and philanthropist. He is an active pioneer in the space exploration industry