U.S. Space Workforce
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for many space-relevant occupations will grow from 2010 to 2020. Though encouraging, this does not necessarily translate to predicted growth within the space industry, as individuals in these occupations work in a wide variety of industries.
The U.S. space workforce has decreased in size each year since 2006, bringing the current workforce to ##. NASA’s civil servant workforce has remained relatively stable over this period, even as its budget has declined. NASA employed ## civil servants as of the beginning of fiscal year (FY) 2014.
Given the requirements for advanced skills and education, it is not surprising that space sector jobs command high salaries. In 2012, the average space sector salary was about $##, more than double the average private sector salary of $##. It is also greater than the average annual salary for STEM occupations.
Analysis of trends in the individual industry classifications making up the total U.S. space workforce shows decreases across all sectors over the past year, though losses were not evenly distributed. The greatest percentage decline from 2011 to 2012, ##%, occurred in Other Guided Missile and Space Vehicle Parts, representing a loss of approximately ## jobs.
The U.S. BLS Employment Projections program develops information about the U.S. labor market 10 years in the future. The most recent projections provide estimates of growth in specific occupations from 2010 to 2020. The occupational titles used by BLS for employment projections are not the same as the NAICS codes used by BLS in its Quarterly Census of Wages and Employment, discussed above.
Although NASA’s workforce remained relatively stable, layoffs related to the Space Shuttle program continued. It is estimated that more than ## individuals associated with the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida lost their jobs after the last shuttle launched in July 2011, and layoffs continued into 2012.
As of the beginning of fiscal year (FY) 2013, NASA employed ## individuals, a decrease of ##% from the start of FY 2012. This is just ##% below the average number of NASA employees from FY 2003 to FY 2013, reflecting the relative stability of NASA’s workforce since FY 2003. More than ##% of NASA’s workforce consists of scientists and engineers.
The military uses space for a wide variety of purposes, including communication, navigation, mapping, and intelligence. The military space workforce is specifically trained to be able to plan, develop, acquire, or operate defense-related space technology. The Air Force maintains the largest space workforce, with ## individuals in 2011.
The space workforce consistently commands high average annual salaries; in 2012 the average space salary was $##. These high salaries reflect, in part, the fact that space jobs often require advanced skills and high levels of educational attainment.