How Much Do Astronauts Get Paid In 2022?

When some of us were younger, we dreamt of going to outer space seeing the earth and the planets in the solar system. Those dreams were often inspired by cartoons, movies, and comic books we read while growing up.

Eventually, a few carry their childhood dreams with them till they grow up and then become space explorers or astronauts.

But before we proceed, who are astronauts, and what do astronauts do? 

Who is an Astronaut? 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) refers to astronauts as “all those who have been launched as crew members aboard NASA’s [or any other space agency’s] spacecraft bound for orbit and beyond”.

The official NASA website further explains that the word “astronaut” is derived from the Greek words ‘astron’ and ‘nautes’ which when translated means “space sailor”.

Becoming an astronaut is a very difficult process that is not meant for everyone because even your physical and genetic makeup influence your chances. The selection process alone is described by one aspirant as “out of this world”.

The career of an astronaut is a prestigious one because they risk their lives to learn more about the universe and save mankind through their acquired knowledge of astronomy.

It is a noble course to pursue and one that deserves a rounding innovation.

What Are The Responsibilities of an Astronaut? What do Astronauts do? 

The job description of an astronaut also known as a space sailor is quite diverse. Astronauts spend their time mostly in the space shuttle rooms, conducting scientific experiments, giving timely feedback to trained personnel on earth, and collecting samples on the cosmic bodies they arrive on.

They create hypotheses and run experiments to test them while monitoring other ongoing projects as they go about their daily activities. Since astronauts travel as a crew, each astronaut has their precise roles to play while in a space mission.

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So, you can’t pinpoint the exact function of all astronauts you sight unless you’re told. The crew flies to various destinations and sometimes the missions change with result to change in the role of each astronaut in the spacecraft. 

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How Much Do Astronauts Make? 

Astronauts are not athletes or entertainment celebrities of which they deserve to be. They do not make millions of dollars for each mission they complete just as movie stars do after acting a blockbuster film.

Rather, astronauts are science people whose servitude is to the benefit of mankind.

However, NASA and some experts report that the rising frequency at which Elon Musk’s Space X and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are launching rockets will increase the demand for more astronauts and space science workers. The job demand & supply market for this career is not yet at its peak.  

NASA says that an astronaut that is among the top performers in his or his class can get paid a salary of more than $100,000 per year. The exact figure depends on the academic and technical qualifying grade the astronaut attains.

The annual salaries of astronauts are classified into the official pay scale for grades GS-12 and GS-13.

The salary also depends on the Federal Government’s budget for space travel that year. If the latter is higher, then the astronauts receive higher pay and vice-versa.

The US Office of Personnel Management is known to be in charge of the base salary and regulating the numbers each year. highlighted the salary tiers that astronauts make. 

Nasa in 2016: Salaries for civilian Astronaut

Candidates are based upon the Federal Government’s General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-11 through GS-14.

The grade is determined in accordance with each individual’s academic achievements and experience.

Currently, a GS-11 starts at $66,026 per year, and a GS-14 can earn up to $144,566 per year. 

Nasa in 2017: Salaries for civilian Astronaut

Candidates are based on the Federal Government’s General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-12 through GS-13.

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Each person’s grade is determined according to his/her academic achievements and experience.

Currently, a GS-12 starts at $65,140 per year, and a GS-13 can earn up to $100,701 per year. 

NASA in 2018: grades GS-11

US Government’s General Schedule pay scale for grades GS-11 is estimated at $98,317 per year while grade GS-14 astronauts get $63,600 per year.

Qualified astronauts with a GS-13 pay grade could start earning $75,628 per year (Step 1) and, after some years of service, up to $98,317 per year (Step 3). 

Tis already explains How Much Astronauts Get Paid in the time past.

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How to Become an Astronaut? Training and Educational Qualifications 

To become an astronaut, one must first enter into an astronaut training facility. But first, you must meet the following basic requirements: 

  • You must be a U.S. citizen 
  • You must have at least two years of experience in Math, Physics, Astronomy, Metrology, or other related experiences that connect with becoming an astronaut. If not, you should have had at least 1,000 hours of pilot experience for any public or private jet aircraft. 
  • Must have completed a master’s degree in a STEM field which includes biology, physics, mathematics, engineering, or computer science from a reputable institution. 
  • You must be able to pass the NASA long-duration astronaut flight simulation.  

The last requirement is usually the rate-limiting step because that’s where 98% of applicants get sieved out.

The NASA (or Space X’s) Astronaut Selection Board reviews tens of thousands of applications once in a few years before picking the top 1%.

During the 2016/17 selection program, only 12 applicants were picked out of the then 18,300 applicants making it the hardest job application to pass in the world.  

Should You Become an Astronaut? 

Of course, deciding on whether or not you want to become an astronaut lies on your shoulder. That question is definitely dependent on you and your career choice. The entry barrier to becoming an astronaut is no joke while the job requirements of a qualified astronaut are far from easy.

Some astronauts stay in space for several months before they arrive on earth and meet their loved ones. So the level of commitment to the job is quite painstaking.

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Nonetheless, the thrill and knowledge that astronauts get from exploring celestial bodies and planets are indescribable. Plus, the salary pay is good and the global recognition is great.

The hardest part of becoming a qualified astronaut is the rigorous training which is not meant for everyone.

This is because no one with health problems has a chance of being selected and even among those healthy applicants, 9/10 won’t pass the strength, endurance, and adaptability screening tests that follow.

However, if you have a strong desire to learn about other parts of the universe and its content and a desire to push mankind’s vision to become interplanetary beings, then becoming an astronaut may be a good career for you.  

Snce we have already established how much astronauts get paid, this should motivate you to become one.

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Becoming an Astronaut is one of the daunting professions to qualify for and practice. It is also a much needed career as privatization of the space industry has increased the demand for more astronauts now and in the following decades to come.

From this article, it can be said that the salary is poor in relation to the high standard of the job requirements. Maybe the average salaries for astronauts will get increased in the future but the focal point of become an astronaut still remains the passion to explore the universe and save the world. 

Do you have any questions about how much astronauts get paid? Leave us a comment below.


What are the types of Astronauts? 

There are civilian astronauts and military astronauts each with their own salary structure. 

What skills must astronauts have to be qualified? 

Astronauts should possess numerous hard and soft skills including high-level intelligence, mental endurance, adaptability, and physical strength.  



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