What Is the Annual Salary of a NASA Astronaut?
- Every two years, NASA selects between 15 and 25 individuals to go through the astronaut training program. Those from the military have usually accrued many hours of flight experience and attained a high rank before being proposed for the program. Civilian candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in engineering, science or mathematics and at least three years of experience related to their area of study. Given the competition for places on the training course -- NASA receives approximately 4,000 applications for those 20 or so openings -- an advanced degree is more desirable.
- Salary levels for civilian astronauts follow the grades on the Federal Government's General Schedule, which applies to all government employees. The grades applicable to the role are GS-12 and GS-13, with an individual's personal grade determined by her experience and academic record. At time of publication, a GS-12 starts at $65,140 annually, while a GS-13 can earn up to $100,701 each year.
- Some astronauts come to NASA from the armed forces. Military astronauts receive a salary for the rank within the armed force that they hold while they are in service at NASA. They are considered to be on active duty while at NASA. Military personnel of any rank can apply to the astronaut training program, although, like civilian astronaut candidates, they must hold a bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics.
- Civilian astronauts are eligible for the same benefits as all government employees. These include paid vacations, sick leave, and health insurance coverage. They may also be offered a life insurance packages. Astronauts also qualify for the Federal Employees Retirement System, which includes a basic benefit plan, social security and the Thrift Savings Plan. The Thrift Savings Plan allows a federal employee to make contributions to a retirement fund, which the government matches. Military astronauts retain the benefits of the armed forces, which includes the Thrift Savings Plan but also those such as Veterans Benefits, calculated by factors such as time served, time on active duty and mode of discharge.