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The Question

(Submitted October 22, 1996)

Hello. I would like to know what it is like to work for NASA; and does it take a real love for astronomy, to do what you do? What does it take to be able to work for NASA? How long would it take for a high school student to reach that point?

The Answer

We're not the best group to compare NASA with other places to work. Because we're here, it must be an organization that particularly suits us! We do think that most people here feel a sense of pride in the NASA mission and that many other people would enjoy working at a NASA Center.

We hope that everyone here cares about and enjoys what they do, whether that is research (in the space, Earth and life sciences) or engineering, or computer programming, or any of the other jobs that must be done for the Agency to accomplish its goals. Work is mere drudgery when it is neither meaningful nor pleasant.

There are many different jobs within NASA. In addition to scientists, engineers and programmers, there are accountants, secretaries, librarians, cooks, security guards, etc. You name it - NASA probably needs it somewhere.

Scientists will typically need to have earned a Ph.D degree in a field relevant to NASA, so they are often in their mid-twenties when they arrive. Engineers and programmers might come straight out of college or later in their careers.

Our advice, if you are interested in working here one day, is to get as broad a preparation as you can. It you're interested in the more technical positions you should work hard on math, the sciences (especially physics) and using computers. Your objectives might change. Also, NASA might be very different in five or ten years - and may be smaller than today. If you've given yourself a good technical education though, you'll be ready for most opportunities.

Good luck!

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