SpaceX Careers: Working in the Commercial Space Industry

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The commercial space industry is growing in significant ways. Learn more about in-demand roles at Elon Musk's private, California-based company SpaceX.

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Going to space used to be exclusive to astronauts, who spent years acquiring specialized training to undertake various government missions. However, in recent years, a growing number of companies have worked to expand space travel and tourism to private citizens, broadening the space industry in noticeable ways. New space companies comprised 32 percent of total research and development expenditures in 2020 [1]. 

SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, is one such company. In 2021, it successfully partnered with NASA to launch the first commercial spacecraft, which carried a retired astronaut and three private citizens [2]. 

Given that the space industry is poised to achieve $1 trillion in revenue by 2040, it may be an incredibly lucrative field to work in [3]. As of January 2021, new job postings in the commercial space industry approached 20,000 [4]. In this article, we’ll review the different career areas you can explore if you’re interested in SpaceX and other companies working toward the future of space.  

What is SpaceX? 

SpaceX is a private, California-based company with between 5,000 and 10,000 employees. In recent years, it has undertaken a tremendous amount of hiring, especially in engineering, software and IT, sales, and management. In fact, out of all commercial space companies, SpaceX posted the highest number of jobs in 2021 [4].

Jobs at SpaceX mirror what you might find at a leading tech company, with a specific focus on space and related endeavors. While a portion of the company concentrates on human spaceflight and related programs like ridesharing, it also works on rockets and orbital rockets (Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9), interplanetary exploration (Starship SN15), and telecommunications (Starlink).  

In fact, telecommunications represents a significant portion of the business potential for the commercial space industry. Fifty percent of its growth is expected to come from satellite broadband, which can be especially useful in rural areas where cable internet is scarce or nonexistent. 

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SpaceX Jobs

Below, we’ve compiled the most common departments SpaceX typically hires for, with sample job titles you may want to consider as you think about your career opportunities. 

Engineering

SpaceX has a high demand for engineers across several departments, including satellite development, avionics, environmental safety, launch, civil engineering and construction, materials, propulsion, and vehicle. 

Many associate-level engineering roles require a bachelor’s degree in engineering and at least two years of experience, with direct experience in the area to which you’re applying. For example, a chemical engineer would need relevant experience in fluid systems. Senior engineering roles typically require more than five years of experience.  

Sample job titles:

  • Satellite production lead

  • Satellite engineer

  • Mechanical engineer

  • Structural engineer

  • Facilities engineer

  • Propulsion engineer

  • Chemicals engineer

  • Launch engineer

  • Test engineer

  • Missions manager

  • Quality inspector

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Software and IT

Employees across SpaceX’s software, information technology, and information security departments support the products that engineers build and the successful operation of numerous internal and external initiatives, including telecommunications services, rockets, and interplanetary travel. 

With these three departments, there seems to be a greater degree of flexibility. Some roles either require a bachelor’s degree and minimal experience (around two years) or five years total experience without a degree. 

Sample job titles: 

  • Data engineer

  • Software engineer

  • IT systems analyst

  • IT systems engineer

  • Communications technician 

  • Network engineer

  • Principal security engineer

  • Security supervisor 

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Manufacturing and production

While several engineering roles report to SpaceX’s manufacturing and production department, leadership, operations, quality assurance, and trade roles also contribute to this important focus. 

For roles concentrating on building and production, SpaceX typically requires a bachelor’s degree in engineering and between three and five years of experience, with some positions requiring direct aerospace experience. Entry-level roles, like Starlink analyst and production coordinator, require a bachelor’s degree or two years of experience.

Sample job titles:

  • Starlink analyst

  • Starlink manager

  • Production coordinator

  • Production supervisor

  • Build supervisor 

  • Machine maintenance manager

  • Quality inspector 

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Marketing

SpaceX’s marketing department works to promote the brand and its many endeavors through original content, web design, campaigns, and merchandise. 

The qualifications for each role will depend on the level (associate, mid, or senior), but many require at least a bachelor’s degree with two to five years of experience. 

Sample job titles:

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Human resources

As with many companies, SpaceX’s human resources department specializes in certain department oversight. Depending on the HR role, you will likely work on a team that oversees a few related units, working to recruit, hire, and manage employee relationships for those assigned units. 

The jobs below typically require a bachelor’s degree and one to five years of experience. 

Sample job titles:

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Finance

Whether dealing with internal or external stakeholders, SpaceX’s finance department performs incredibly important functions to keep the company’s initiatives profitable. 

The jobs below typically require a bachelor’s degree and one to seven years of experience. 

Sample job titles: 

  • Accounting manager

  • Finance manager

  • Senior tax analyst

  • Senior accountant

  • Purchasing manager 

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Sales

The sales team works on numerous potential income streams, including relationships with commercial, business, and government customers.  

The below roles generally require a bachelor’s degree and two to five years of experience. 

Sample job titles: 

  • Customer support associate

  • Sales consultant

  • Proposal editor

  • Sales manager

  • Director of sales management 

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How to apply to SpaceX

SpaceX uses an applicant tracking system (ATS), and the majority of interviews come from this source, according to candidate reporting on Glassdoor. The company wants “world class talent” given its advanced products and initiatives, and getting an interview can be competitive. Let’s discuss how you can put together a strong application. 

Building a strong SpaceX application

Most SpaceX roles require a mix of technical skills (sometimes called “hard skills”) and workplace skills (sometimes called “soft skills”). When it comes to workplace skills, it can be useful to identify the transferable skills you’ve developed and highlight how they would make you a strong candidate for a career in the space industry. Learn how to feature and format key skills on your resume, so your qualifications are evident. 

If you’re looking to break into the space industry, including a resume objective—or a line about your larger career goals—can be beneficial. In your cover letter, it’s worthwhile to explain why you’re interested in the space industry in general and SpaceX specifically. Spend time researching the company and take note of what stands out to you: its mission, its products, its culture, or something else. 

Although it can be difficult to follow up on an initial job application submitted through an ATS, it may be worthwhile to reach out to a SpaceX recruiter on LinkedIn and express your interest.   

Want more help on your application? We’ve compiled a handy Job Search Guide with tips on resumes, cover letters, applications, interviews, and more.

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The future of space careers

The growth of the space industry has to do with its expansion from what’s been termed “space-for-earth” to “space-for-space.” Both refer to different but related economies. 

Space-for-earth: The term “space-for-earth” concerns the space resources developed for use by those who live on Earth. These include things like satellite internet and national security products. Typically, the government has overseen this work, but lately, it has attracted private businesses.  

Space-for-space: The term “space-for-space” refers to space resources developed for use by those in space, such as space tourism, space stations, cargo travel, and more. It’s not about finding resources in space and using them on Earth, but about cultivating resources, experiences, and potentially a sustainable way of life in space. 

Other companies currently involved in the commercial “space-for-space” industry include: 

  • Blue Origin: Founded by Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin primarily focuses on suborbital space flights and reusable rockets designed to clear a path for eventual life in space.

  • Virgin Galactic: From Virgin founder Richard Branson, the company focuses on space travel for private citizens. 

  • Made in Space, Inc.: Designs and produces 3D printers for use in space

  • Axiom: Develops space infrastructure and aims to build the first commercial space station

  • LeoLabs: Works to monitor and protect Low Earth Orbit (LEO) through radar and data services that keep other companies’ satellite efforts safe and secure 

  • Astroscale: An orbital debris removal company, Astroscale clears space to make sure space is developed sustainably. 

Besides working in the private sector, you can also explore careers at government agencies such as NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), both of which are heavily involved with private businesses when it comes to commercial space travel.  

Explore further 

Ready to learn more about any one of the areas mentioned above? You can find courses, hands-on projects, and professional certificates from leading universities and companies on Coursera. Earn a professional certificate in computer science or IT, business or marketing, or data science from Meta, IBM, Google, HubSpot, and more. On average, programs take around six months, and you can gain critical job-ready skills and a valuable resume credential.  

If you’d like to explore more about space, consider enrolling in the University of Arizona’s Astronomy: Exploring Space and Time or the University of Colorado Boulder’s Spacecraft Dynamics and Control.

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Related articles

Article sources

1. McKinsey Quarterly. “The Future of the Space Economy, https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/aerospace-and-defense/our-insights/five-fifty-the-future-of-the-space-economy.” Accessed July 27, 2022. 

2. NASA. “NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Astronauts Headed to International Space Station, https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-spacex-crew-1-astronauts-headed-to-international-space-station/.” Accessed July 27, 2022. 

3. CNBC. “The space industry is on its way to reach $1 trillion in revenue by 2040, Citi says, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/21/space-industry-is-on-its-way-to-1-trillion-in-revenue-by-2040-citi.html.” Accessed July 28, 2022. 

4. Economic Modeling. “Jobs and Skills of the Commercial Space Industry, https://www.economicmodeling.com/2022/04/06/space/.” Accessed July 27, 2022. 

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