Description: Testbed analysts design, test, and manage software and hardware for space systems. They create durable, efficient systems for space exploration and use mathematical calculations and experimentation to ensure successful missions.
Knowledge Required: Physics, chemistry, mathematics, general engineering principles, propulsion, mechanics, aerodynamics, navigation and computer systems.
Skills: Attention to detail, problem solving, patience, tenacity, analytical skills, communication
Career Path: Testbed analysts often complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a field of science that relates to space exploration. Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs, in partnership with their specific industry, that give students practical experience while they complete their education.
Best Cities for this job: California’s Los Angeles Metropolitan area is the greatest employer of engineers. Other good cities for the job include Houston, Washington DC, and the Silicon Valley area.
Median Annual Income: $71,500 National, $66,000 California
Future Growth: Employment in space exploration and aerospace engineering is expected to grow 5 percent from 2010 to 2020.
From the field: “There are tons of solutions to a single problem, and you just want to optimize and get the best one. If you think broader, you can just discover so many things that are amazing in this world.” – Luis Dominguez
Did you know? There have been seven successful U.S. Mars landings: Viking 1 and Viking 2 (both 1976), Pathfinder (1997), Spirit and Opportunity (both 2004), Phoenix (2008) and Curiosity (2012).View more Day in the Life videos »