Career Path

Choosing a Course

There are hundreds of different undergraduate degree courses available, each covering different topics and offering different opportunities. Choose a subject you enjoy and are good at, because if you're passionate about working in the space sector you can - no matter what you end up studying!


Course Type & Length

Undergraduate degrees come in two flavours: Bachelor's (three or four years) and Integrated Master's (four or five years), but it is possible to do an undergraduate Bachelor’s degree followed by a postgraduate Master’s degree (which usually lasts one or two years). The latter option allows you to do your Master’s at a different university to your Bachelor’s, giving you the opportunity to go somewhere better suited to whatever you choose to specialise in as you do your undergraduate degree. It does, however, take slightly longer.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing whether to do a Master’s or just do a Bachelor’s - the best way to find out is to check the requirements for your dream job and our Job Vacancies page is a great place to start looking. However, if you want to do a PhD, a Master’s is a must.

Course Subject

You can study pretty much any subject and still end up in the space industry if that’s where you want to end up. The most important thing is finding something that you're passionate about.

Spacecraft are designed by aerospace engineers, electronics engineers, computer scientists, chemists, technicians, and many more, but the space industry wouldn’t function without writers, artists, lawyers, accountants, doctors and many others.

Remember that a degree isn’t the only way into the space sector - read our articles on apprenticeships and leaving school at 16 to find out about alternative routes into the industry.

Most people working in the space industry didn’t know that’s where they would end up, and they’ve come at it from every possible route. If you're having trouble deciding, the best thing to do is look at the degree requirements for jobs you are interested in. Again, our Job Vacancies section is a great place to start.

Use this tool from the Russell Group Universities to discover which courses suit the subjects you are currently studying, and find out more about the different courses available.

Remember that courses at different universities will have different modules and focus on different things, so always check the prospectus before applying for a course! It's important to consider the facilities a university has - for example, if you're interested in Material Science, you might want to consider somewhere that has an autoclave for composites research. Also remember to have a look at universities abroad as some have outstanding facilities you can't find in the UK.

A Year in Industry

Sometimes called a sandwich year, or industrial placement, a year in industry gives you the chance to gain real work experience before you graduate. Lots of universities offer this as part of their undergraduate degrees but check before you apply! A large number of companies in the space industry offer year placements for undergraduate students, helping you to decide which career path is right for you.

Additions to the original article were made by Thomas Woelker-Darley.

Author

Joseph Dudley

Joseph studied Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London, and created SpaceCareers.uk.

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