UCL News


UCL in the News: So you want to work in ... space

6 October 2007

Fifty years ago scientists decided to take a closer look at the stars and the space age was born, an event currently being marked by World Space Week.

Jobs associated with the final frontier are many and varied. …

Our experts explore the options. …

Dr Lucie Green, research fellow, UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory

Space is an international endeavour so a job in this area means working with scientists and space agencies all around the world. There are all sorts of jobs, such as being a post-doctoral researcher working in international collaborations carrying out research to answer particular science questions. After gaining experience, a post-doc may move on through the university system to a lectureship position - and beyond - where you will be training up the next generation of scientists, as well as doing your own research.

However, to enable the research to take place, software, hardware and a lot of project management is needed, which bring about jobs in these areas.

In fact, the UK provides instrumentation for space research so there are jobs in this country for engineers, both mechanical and electronic, computing experts, project managers, programmers and software engineers.

A PhD is the typical route in, especially for research. However, it isn't the only one. If you want to come into the engineering side, you could follow a vocational training route. You need to work hard and keep focused on the bigger picture. Space science is all about the big questions, such as is there life beyond the Earth? But we need to work together to answer them.

Going into space would truly be the most amazing experience that someone could have. But my ambitions are far more down to Earth. I'm happy looking up.

Liz Ford, 'The Guardian'