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

Dec 13, 2022 | 5 min read | Declan Igoe

Most-asked questions about ESA careers

Working at 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 ESA

ESA has certain hiring policies to be aware of before you get started. Let’s break some of them down.

Perhaps the most important piece of information to be aware of before starting an application is whether you are eligible, since ESA staff members must be nationals of one of the ESA Member States, Associate Member States or Cooperating States (link). If you are not sure if you can apply for a given position, check the list of eligible countries which is given at the bottom of the vacancy.

Another factor to consider is the requirement to live in the general area of your hiring institution. While ESA has various options for flexible working arrangements including different levels of teleworking, your primary residence must be within 100 km of your ESA establishment. If as a result you needed to relocate to take up your post, you would receive a removal support package including reimbursement of your moving expenses. Depending on your area of expertise, the move could be to the Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Astronomy Centre in Madrid, the Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt or one of the numerous other bases scattered across Europe. Check the list of ESA establishments here.

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 at ESA for people 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, communications, or even hiring the next astronauts in human resources. ESA needs people from all areas to help them execute their diverse missions.

How does ESA’s application process look?

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! ESA has a policy of leaving the job open for one month before taking the posting down. 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:All ESA vacancies are filled by open competition. Therefore you need to apply to a published vacancy. Due to the exceptionally high number of applications that they receive, ESA cannot accept open applications. Instead, they kindly ask you to apply to the jobs that are most suitable to your education and experience level.

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 - regardless of whether you are successful or not.

Once the application deadline has passed, ESA assesses all applications received and then narrows down the search to a shortlist. Those who are selected will either be invited directly to interview or to a preliminary chat to confirm that they are the right fit for ESA (and vice versa).

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

All of the professional positions at ESA will ask for a minimum of a Master’s degree and some will even require a PhD. The educational requirements for the administrative support opportunities such as secretaries or assistants, educational requirements are more lenient.

Note: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with applying for a few jobs at 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.

ESA’s entry-level programmes start with opportunities open to students at Master’s degree level, but there are other educational programmes and short-term working experience opportunities for students from Bachelor to PhD level, so there are ways to get your foot in the door. Check out the ESA website for more info.

Benefits of working at ESA

The European Space Agency offers attractive working conditions for its staff. Primarily and most importantly, the salaries are very competitive and in-line with what you would expect from other intergovernmental agencies. Alongside that, many ESA contracts are permanent. This means that you first get a contract for four years and then you will have the option to extend it until the ESA retirement age of 63, 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 into their mission.

The regular workday is eight hours in a forty-hour week. 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 an agreed amount of time and have the option to work from home sometimes too.

Holidays: ESA workers get twelve public holidays plus 32 vacation days to be used as they wish each year.

Another benefit of working at ESA is the wide range of facilities that it provides to its staff, from chillout areas to cafes and restaurants in the ESA establishments plus sports facilities 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 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.