It’s easy to dismiss talk about Mars and the space race as mere science fiction. After all, we’re living in the new century 16 years already, and nowhere does it look like the living room at the Jetson’s condo. However, with major players like Boeing and SpaceX setting their sights on Mars (and everywhere in between), it’s not just those with the Right Stuff who are going to win a shot at space.
So what jobs are going to be hot with the new space race to Mars?
Before we get to Mars, we’re going to be flying a LOT of missions on futuristic spacecraft. But these won’t be manned by just astronauts, they’re going to be commercial flights with pilots at the helm. Want to get a job on a SpaceX ship or a (to be built) Boeing space explorer? Try working to become the very best pilot out there. Chuck Yeager might have set the bar pretty high for pilots breaking new (sound) barriers, but he won’t be the last. Right now, commercial pilots make around $65,000 per year.
Think that those space drinks are going to serve themselves? Wrong! Flight attendants will still have a place, even in space. Think of all the tasks that will be created by long-range flight. Everything from assuaging the fears of first time orbiters, to making darn sure everyone’s seat belts are fastened when you’re coming in to landing on a distant planet, are going to be really REALLY important in the future. You can’t put a price on good customer service, but right now, flight attendants are paid around $38,000 per year.
Yes, there will be hotels in space. If you’re good with having time away from family and friends (like, a long time) then maybe you should think about working in a space hotel. It can’t be worse than some remote locations, right? And hotel general managers make around $52,000 per year, and that’s right here on terra firma, so that’s a good start.
Yep, we’ll need ways to grow food on Mars. If we’re gone for almost a year, just in transit, we’ll need ways to get food from somewhere other than Peapod. And while we’re likely not going to grow potatoes like Matt Damon did in The Martian, scientists still need to figure out ways to produce food on Mars, and other places not on Earth. So we need super smart farmers to figure out even more about how plants grow. Farmer/Scientists, if you will. The more we can learn about roots, soil, nutrients, and yes, even genetic engineering of food, the better we’ll all be. And farmers don’t do too badly, salary-wise: they earn on average around $39,000 per year.
Wow, do we love to dream about colonizing Mars. From Ray Bradbury to the latest budding architects, we love thinking about what houses might look like on far away planets. There are already loads of conceptual contests for building structures on Mars, since the planet’s environment is so formidable, and some of them look pretty cool! Architects have always been well-paid, so why not become one and get paid to dream a little, too? Design Architects earn on average $59,000 per year.
While we’ve started to survey Mars from space, and from the surface, using robots, there will hopefully come a time when people will stand on the surface and mark out hills and valleys. While the scientists, geologists, physicists, and other –ists get to have all the technical fun, surveyors are a historically significant profession that even Thomas Jefferson once counted on his own resume. Who wouldn’t want to be a surveyor on Mars? I bet you can even get to name some cool stuff! Here on Earth, professional land surveyors earn on average $68,000 a year.
Yeah, teachers. If we want anyone in future generations to remember about why space is an important place to be dreaming about, not just an answer to a standardized test, we’re going to have to inspire a new generation of teachers, too. Learn about resources for teachers who want to spread the word about how cool Mars is, including emphasis on STEM education and professional development for teachers. High school teachers earn on average $47,000 per year.
Look, 2016 has been pretty rough. If we’re going to stay sane, we have to find some light to hold on to in 2017. One thing that won’t diminish as the New Year gets going is our desire to make something great out of exploring new places and new worlds. This time, we get to set our sights on Mars, and even folks like you and me can dream a little about seeing it one day. That’s pretty cool.
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