What does a career in space look like?
Discover South Australia's space industry and what a career looks like for you.
South Australia is already home to more than 100 space-related organisations and is committed to growing the local workforce – including pathways to study and train.
Astronauts and rocket launches might be the first thing that comes to mind but there’s much more to the space industry! Our every-day lives are impacted by information collected in space.
Space satellites collect data that provide our farmers with insight into future rainfall; give our emergency services the ability to monitor, manage and even prevent emergencies like bushfires and allow us to use GPS functionality on our mobile phones and in our cars and there’s so much more! What will research and innovation in the space industry help us do next?
South Australia has a rapidly growing space industry and is fast cementing our position as Australia’s hub for future space industry development.
To keep up this momentum, the local space industry needs specialists in space law, engineering, design and manufacturing, robotics and data analytics.
Examples of jobs in Space
To explore more types of jobs in space, visit the Australian Space Agency.
Software Architects are highly experienced software developers who collaborate with other experts, including software engineers, to develop systems that meet business goals and align with technological needs. The tools and applications developed for the space industry, set the standard for so many other industries, with every business and organisation in the world reliant on software to help it run smoothly! So if you want to be a leader in your profession, the space industry is the place to do it!
- meeting clients or colleagues to understand business goals and software needs
- advising on software solutions and plans that are adaptable to changing needs, including company growth
- project managing the development of software solutions, including briefing a team of specialists who focus on different tasks
- building software solutions, testing and modifying them in line with business needs
- writing code to support software development.
Engineer - Various Specialisations
Broadly speaking, engineers use science and mathematics to develop and test solutions to complex problems. Companies working in the space industry employ engineers to help build, design, develop and test new satellite technology and systems, as well as other products such as rockets, sensors, programs and infrastructure.
There’s forecast demand for engineers who specialise in:
- production/manufacturing, meaning they develop, validate and improve manufacturing processes and systems
- software, meaning they build and maintain software systems
- systems, meaning they work with networked computer systems and focus on designing and maintaining the hardware and software required in that network
- mechanical engineering, meaning they develop and test tools, machines and other mechanical products
- electrical engineering, meaning they design, build and maintain electric tools, devices, systems and equipment
- integrated logistics support, concerned with managing the flow of materials, information and goods from start to finish
- robotics, concerned with building, operating and maintaining robotic devices and systems
- propulsion, concerned with building and testing systems to propel spacecraft and rockets for launch
- space systems, concerned with building aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and equipment
- machine learning and AI, focused on programming and using artificial intelligence to process and produce information.
Wage information is only for 'Aerospace Engineer' and is based on positions advertised with Seek, across Australia.
Finance Assistants support the broader finance team to manage the financial resources of the organisation they work for. You don’t have to be an engineer or a scientist to work in the space industry. Like all industries, all sorts of roles are required to keep a business running and the space industry needs financial managers and support staff.
- maintaining financial records, including spreadsheets
- drafting spreadsheets
- reviewing and reconciling bank statements
- procuring products and services
- processing invoices.
Average wage information is based on positions advertised on Seek across Australia.
Lawyers provide legal advice to clients while upholding the law. The local space industry is expected to require more specialists with a broad understanding of aspects of law impacting space – including space exploration, liability for damage, use of weapons, environmental responsibilities and information sharing. Lawyers working in the space industry will also be familiar with more traditional laws covering intellectual property, environmental, criminal and commercial law.
- preparing and reviewing contracts
- negotiating settlements
- appearing in court on behalf of clients
- understanding international and domestic treaties (applicable to space law).
Scientists working in the space industry get to research things that are out of this world – quite literally! Imagine being a space scientist and researching how to grow food in space or how humans could live in space. Space science is all about looking outwards from Earth to the stars and beyond trying to find answers to big questions while applying the laws of physics, chemistry and geology. From astrophysicists to geologists, mathematicians to meteorologists, there is so much to explore.
- developing research projects
- formulating questions and developing surveys
- collecting and analysing data
- reporting and presenting results of research.
Being a CAD Drafter or Designer in the space industry could see you designing a rocket that launches into space at 11,000kms per second. Designers use specialised software to help generate designs and drawings for complex projects. These designs could be used to create 2D or 3D images or technical drawings that will help manufacture a space-related product that will eventually turn from concept to reality. Design plays a critical role in aerospace and CAD designers must stay up to date with the latest practices and technologies, to ensure designs meet strict criteria around size, space, mass and performance.
- designing complex layouts and drawings from specifications
- producing CAD drawings for new or improved products, structures, machinery, vehicles and industrial systems
- working with other teams to obtain reference information for drawings
- running simulations and stress-tests on 3D models before prototyping
- reviewing design layouts to find and resolve problems
- participating in engineering and manufacturing design reviews
- maintaining an understanding of current technology related to digital-based manufacturing, machine learning-aided design, virtual performance simulations and additive component manufacturing.
Data Analysts collect, organise, interpret and report on data to provide advice for organisations. The space industry needs Data Analysts to advise on making new products or services more effective, or to forecast market trends. Alternatively, they might track climate change data or analyse information about crop yields.
- understanding business goals and needs and analysing data relevant to that
- preparing reports and presenting data to leadership teams
- identifying and interpreting trends
- maintaining databases.
Project Managers coordinate and oversee the delivery of major projects. This usually involves responsibility for budget and timelines, cost, quality, contracts, engineering, integration, health and safety, construction, commissioning and stakeholder management.
Projects in the space industry are varied and often unlike anything else found in the fields of engineering or science. Working in the space industry will guarantee you work on some of Australia’s most exciting projects including rocketry, space-borne life support, chemical fuels and spacecraft design.
- providing project and contract management services
- controlling project budgets and reporting on project progress
- leading and overseeing administration and delivery of professional services and contracts
- training staff and stakeholder management
- developing and implementing procedures and guidelines that promote best practice.
Average wage information is based on a broad definition of a Commercial Project Manager role in South Australia. It’s anticipated space industry project management roles will reflect higher wages aligned with the specialised engineering expertise required by this industry (also see Software Architect and Engineer).
Space career stories
Joel works as an Associate for Cowell Clarke, a commercial law firm, and is working towards PhD in Space Law. He advises clients across a range of industries - including space. You can read his story, and many more from real people working in the space industry in South Australia.
Jobs available right now
Employers in the space industry
There's exciting employment opportunities across a number of space businesses in South Australia. Check out a few of them here and visit the Employer directory for employers in other industries too. You can also visit the space industry directory for even more employers in the industry (and if you're a business, apply to be listed).
The information on this page is accurate at the time of original publish (September 2021). Job projections within the sectors are based on economic data and reporting over multiple years and is subject to fluctuation and change. Jobs featured on this site are a current list of advertised opportunities within the sectors featured and jobs available on external employers’ web links. Users are encouraged to independently check and research career opportunities as more job opportunities become available within the sector.