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Most-asked questions about ESA careers - Everything you need to know.

Mar 10, 2021 | 5 min read | Declan Igoe

Most-asked questions about ESA careers

Working at the ESA is one of the coolest jobs you can have in the world. But it’s not easy to secure a position there and there are lots of questions that you might have before considering to start the application process. For that reason, we’ve done a lot of research for you which will hopefully give you the upper hand if you decide that you want to make the European Space Agency part of your future. So let’s begin.

Things to note before applying to the ESA

The ESA is very rigid and has some policies in place in regards to their hiring process which might affect your ability to work there. Let’s break some of them down.

Firstly and most importantly, you must be from one of the E.U. member states to work at the European Space Agency. This goes without saying as it is a European Union initiative. Also, there are few-to-no opportunities to work remotely so you must be prepared to live and work in the place where your hiring institution is. This could be at the Astronomy Centre in Madrid, the Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt or one of the numerous other bases scattered across Europe.

A mutual fit between you and your company of choice is the perfect scenario. Now comes the hard part – proving to the employer that you belong in his ranks, and you should start doing it from the very beginning – the application process.

You don’t already work in the space industry?

That’s fine too. There are a lot of opportunities for people to work at the ESA who don’t have a background in space but that have a passion for the industry. There are jobs in science, engineering, or admin and business areas. You could also find yourself working in the legal team, facility management, comms., or even hiring the next astronauts in human resources. The ESA needs people from all areas to help them execute their diverse missions.

How does the ESA application process look?

The ESA posts job vacancies regularly on their website and you can find all of the vacancies right here on Space Individuals too! They post new job openings very regularly and we’ve noticed times when they post new jobs every single day! Not only that, but the ESA has a policy of leaving the job open for just one month before taking the posting down - we’ve also heard that those who get their applications in sooner are more likely to be given the job. So in order to maximise your chances of getting a job that suits your skills - we suggest making an account here at Space Individuals and setting up notifications so that you never miss that golden opportunity.

Note: Due to the exceptionally high number of applications that they receive, they ask you to politely not send open applications and instead to pick jobs that are most suitable to your education and experience level. Open applications will be ignored.

Once you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an auto-generated response with a tool to track the status of your application but you will also receive emails every step of the way - irregardless of whether you are successful or not.

As the ESA receives a tonne of interest from applicants, they will narrow down the search with a shortlist. Those who are selected will either be invited directly to interview or to a preliminary chat to get to know the applicant on a personal level.

I don’t have a Master’s, can I work at the ESA?

All of the professional positions at the ESA will ask for a minimum of a Master’s degree and some will even require a PhD but for more administrative opportunities such as secretaries or assistants - the process is a little more lenient and the educational requirements less restrictive.

The trainee programs which are offered by the ESA are normally geared towards those who are studying a Master too.

Note: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with applying for a few jobs at the ESA. You can apply for as many positions as you are qualified. The only advice we would offer is that if you are going for the most junior level positions (trainee) then try to put all your attention on just one.

The ESA trainee programmes start with opportunities targeting students studying for a Master but there are other educational programs and short-term working experience opportunities for students from Bachelor level to PhD so there are ways to get your foot in the door. Check out the ESA website for more info.

Benefits of working at the ESA

The European Space Agency takes a pretty attractive approach to working conditions for its staff. Primarily and most importantly, the salaries are very competitive and in-line with what you would expect from other governmental agencies. Alongside that, the work contracts are permanent meaning that you work there for four years before having the option to extend it until you retire i.e. 65 and that is something very unique in our times. They understand the need for stability and no high turnovers and they value the hard work that their staff puts in for the mission.

The regular workday is eight hours in a forty-hour week. The ESA knows that a healthy work/life balance is vital to the happiness and productivity of its employees and therefore offers flexible working. This means you can enjoy flexitime where you are in the office for a pre-agreed time (core hours) with the option to work from home sometimes too.

Holidays: ESA workers get twelve public holidays a year plus 32 days of holiday to be used as they wish per year.

Another benefit of working at the ESA is the wide range of facilities that it provides to its staff. From chillout areas to cafes and restaurants in the centres plus places to play sports and plenty of staff trips and employee-bonding experiences too!

Get started!

If you’ve read this article from top to bottom then we can assume that you are at least interested in getting a space job at the ESA. With that in mind, we can tell you you’re in the right place to get started. Space Individuals helps people find their dream job in space every, single day and we want to help you too! If you haven’t already, read our article on how to get a job in space to increase your chances and make sure to sign up now to receive alerts when the newest, most-exciting positions are live.