Choosing Your Secondary School Subjects
You can study pretty much any subject and still end up in the space industry. Start with your ideal job. What qualifications are needed for that job? What do you need to get those qualifications?
You can study pretty much any subject and still end up in the space industry if that’s where you want to be.
Even if you’re set on building the next space shuttle, there’s no need to study aerospace engineering. Spacecraft are designed by electronics engineers, computer scientists, chemists, technicians, and many many more.
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. The space industry wouldn’t function without writers, artists, lawyers, accountants, doctors and many others.
How to Decide
The best thing to do is to work backwards. Start with your ideal job. What qualifications are needed for that job? What do you need to get those qualifications? And so on until you get to what you're currently studying.
If you're not sure about your ideal job and want to keep your options open, you can't go wrong with Maths and Science GCSEs and A Levels, or for students in Scotland, Maths and Science Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers.
Space Systems Engineer -> Degree in physics or engineering -> A Levels (or Scottish Highers or Advanced Highers) in Physics, Maths, and Further Maths -> GCSEs (or Scottish National 5) in Triple Science and Maths
Astrobiologist -> Degree in biology or chemistry -> A Levels in Biology, Chemistry, and Maths -> GCSEs in Triple Science and Maths
Every job will have different requirements, as will different university courses. If you've got your heart set on Medicine at Bristol, then find out what their requirements are. They may be different from those at Imperial.
Technical jobs like being an engineer, a space scientist, or an astrobiologist require you to have a good scientific background.
Learn more about where different subjects could take you and get help on choosing your subjects in this guide from the Russel Group universities.
Choose a Subject You Like!
Pursue the things you’re passionate about. From A Level (or from Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers) through to the end of a university degree can take about five or six years. That’s a lot of time to be studying something you’re not interested in. If you love biology then don’t worry about becoming an expert in astrophysics. If you have a passion for English, then don’t try to force yourself into a science degree.