How to become an astronaut

Growing up, many kids fantasise about exploring the vast reaches of space, just like Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. 

Becoming an astronaut is a dream shared by many, but only a select few have the skills and determination necessary to make it a reality. 

As new industries emerge and existing industries start to dwindle there is a new pool of occupations that our kids can explore. It is important to ensure that our kids are receiving a future-ready education, one that will adequately prepare them for this ever-changing future. 

In this article, we will delve into what subjects you should choose to become an astronaut, we will look at what astronauts do on a daily basis, how long it takes to become an astronaut and end off with an astronaut’s salary expectations. 

So buckle up, grab your space suit, and let's embark on a journey to discover what it takes to become an astronaut.

What subjects do you need to take to become an astronaut?

There are many benefits to doing a subject or career choice assessment in high school. If your child dreams of becoming an astronaut then it is important that they take the right subjects at high school, to ensure that they are accepted to their tertiary degree of choice. 

It is recommended to focus on a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects during high school. 

Here are some subjects that can help prepare a child for a career as an astronaut:

  1. Mathematics: Courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus are essential.
  2. Science: Classes in physics, chemistry, biology, and geography can provide a solid background in the natural sciences.
  3. Computer Science: Knowledge of computer programming and software design can be useful in an astronaut’s career.
  4. English: Strong communication and writing skills are important for astronauts, who often work with teams of scientists and engineers.

In addition to these academic subjects, participating in extracurricular activities, such as robotics courses, can help a child gain valuable hands-on experience and develop a network of contacts.

What degree should you register for to qualify as an astronaut

To become an astronaut, you typically need a bachelor's degree in a field related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). 

Here are some common degrees that are considered to be relevant to a career as an astronaut:

  1. Aerospace Engineering
  2. Electrical Engineering
  3. Mechanical Engineering
  4. Computer Science
  5. Physics
  6. Mathematics
  7. Chemistry
  8. Biology
  9. Geology

It's important to note that space agencies such as NASA often prefer applicants with advanced degrees, such as a master's degree or PhD. This additional education can demonstrate a high level of expertise and competence in a specific field and can make you a more competitive candidate for an astronaut position.

In addition to having a relevant degree, you will also need to have experience in a related field and meet other requirements, such as physical fitness standards. So, it's a good idea to gain work experience and build a strong foundation in your field of study before applying to become an astronaut.

How long does it take to become an astronaut?

Becoming an astronaut is a challenging and competitive process that can take several years. The exact amount of time it takes to become an astronaut depends on several factors, including your educational background, work experience, and the specific requirements of the space agency you are interested in working for.

Here's a general timeline of the steps you might take to become an astronaut:

  1. Pursue a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as engineering, science, or mathematics. This typically takes 4 years.
  2. Gain work experience in a related field. This can take several years and may involve working as an engineer, scientist, or military pilot.
  3. Apply to a space agency such as NASA. The selection process is highly competitive and typically involves a rigorous screening process that can take several months or even years.
  4. Complete astronaut training, which can last for several years. 

In total, the process of becoming an astronaut can take anywhere from 8 to 12 years or more, depending on your background and the specific requirements of the space agency you are working with.

What does an astronaut do?

The daily life of an astronaut can vary depending on their specific duties and mission, but there are some general activities that are common to all astronauts. 

Here is a general overview of a typical day in the life of an astronaut (in space):

  1. Exercise: Astronauts typically start their day with a workout to maintain their physical fitness and prevent muscle and bone loss in the weightless environment of space.
  2. Science experiments: Astronauts conduct a variety of scientific experiments during their mission.
  3. Maintenance tasks: Astronauts are responsible for maintaining the equipment and systems on their spacecraft, including performing routine checks and troubleshooting any issues that arise.
  4. Communications: Astronauts stay in regular communication with mission control on Earth and other members of their team, exchanging information and updates on their progress.
  5. Meals: Astronauts eat regularly to maintain their energy levels and health. The food is carefully packaged to last for long periods of time in space.
  6. Personal time: Astronauts also have some personal time during their mission, which they can use for activities such as reading, writing, or video calling their family and friends.
  7. Sleep: Astronauts require regular sleep to stay alert and focused, and to maintain their physical and mental health.

It's important to note that the day-to-day life of an astronaut can be physically and mentally demanding, and requires a high level of discipline and focus. However, it can also be a highly rewarding and unforgettable experience.

How much does an astronaut earn?

The salary of an astronaut can vary depending on a number of factors, including the space agency they work for and their specific role and responsibilities.

At NASA, for example, the starting salary for an astronaut is around $66,000 per year. This can go up to $140,000 based on experience and specialisation. It is important to note that this is just a base salary, and astronauts may be eligible for additional pay and benefits depending on their specific assignments and duties.

In general, astronauts earn competitive salaries and benefits, reflecting the demanding nature of their work and their extensive education and training. However, the financial rewards are only one aspect of a career as an astronaut. Many astronauts are driven by a passion for space exploration and a desire to contribute to our understanding of the universe, and consider their work to be a calling and a privilege.

Choosing a career path is one of the biggest decisions that teens face. CambriLearn Online School has created a FREE Career Quiz to help tweens and teens best understand their strengths and interests to help them identify potential career pathways. 

Take this FREE Career Quiz for teens

How to become an astronaut

Take this FREE Career Quiz for teens

How to become an astronaut

The P.A.S.S. Career Assessment was created to help teens best understand their strengths & interests to help them identify potential careers

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