I flunked in high school and early college because I wasn't in the right mindset. No drive or motivation to do my best. I now want to pursue SpaceX's vision because it's similar to my vision, and I would appreciate any advice.

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    $\begingroup$ The AF has plenty of space jobs of their own. Go work on the X-37! $\endgroup$ Feb 3 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ To be honest, "engineer" and "flunked high school and early college" don't really fit. It's not impossible to become an engineer, but whatever you do, you'll need a lot of math, physics and good writing skills. $\endgroup$ Feb 4 at 12:02
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble They are now separate branches of the military, so you'd need to apply directly to Space Force. The initial batches of servicemembers got transferred from the Air Force. $\endgroup$
    – ceejayoz
    Feb 4 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ @ceejayoz You made me curious, so I went to the SF home page and read the "how do I join" FAQ. The only thing there is an explanation of how to transfer in from the AF. So I'm not convinced you can directly enlist in the SF. $\endgroup$ Feb 4 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I can't get past the 90s web design. 🤣 $\endgroup$
    – ceejayoz
    Feb 4 at 14:26

Though many say that success directly reflects how hard one works or how motivated one is, there is a huge amount of random "luck" involved; being in the right place at the right time, meeting just the right people who may be helpful later, etc.

This leads to the following advice. Choose a path that has you doing things that you really enjoy doing:

  1. So that whether or not you end up in a particular place or not you are still doing things you like to do.
  2. So that your genuine interest is obvious to others you may meet, and brings you to meet others with similar interests. "Contacts" and "networking" are common catch phrases I know, but there is a some truth in "It's not what you know, it's who you know." It's overstated, not an absolute, but qualifications on paper are only part of the mix.

This blogpost seems quite helpful: True or False, “It is not what you know, but who you know”? I wish somebody had told me fifty years ago that I should be likable :-)

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    $\begingroup$ "How to Win Friends and Influence People" -- Definitely a good book recommendation. $\endgroup$
    – user4574
    Feb 4 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ Very appropriate user name, given the last sentence. I think every engineer has that moment at some point. $\endgroup$ Feb 4 at 21:12

I can't tell you a specific job, but I can help you narrow it down quite a bit.

The best way to start answering this question is to go look at the job openings that Space-X currently has listed, and what the requirements are for those jobs.

You can also go to third party websites like indeed.com that list the same jobs, but with better search functions.

  • If you look at those job listings, all of the Electrical Engineering positions require at least a bachelors degree in electrical engineering. A master's degree appears to be preferred but not required.

  • In order to be hired for an Electrical Engineering position at SpaceX you would need to be able to obtain your degree while working. Without that you can't get the job.

  • Choosing the right location could be beneficial. For example SpaceX does launches for the Air Force from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Having an Air Force job in or around Cape Canaveral might get you in a position to work with and see first hand SpaceX specific hardware. You may also have the opportunity to associate with their employees.

  • When I was a kid, and when in college, I was always building electronics hobby projects. That experience put me way ahead when I was obtaining my EE degree. While obtaining your degree, having a job that required you to actually work on electronic hardware might really help your understanding of the concepts. A maintenance or test technician job might be a good fit for that.

  • Many of the jobs appear to require a security clearance. Having the clearance already when you attend an interview would be a huge bonus. So picking an Air Force job that requires clearance would be useful. For example a maintenance tech job that had you troubleshooting classified hardware might require a clearance.

  • The job requirements must not conflict with your ability to attend classes. For example if you attend classes in person, you can't have a job that keeps re-deploying you to new places all the time. If you attend online classes you can be anywhere with reliable internet access.

  • Also, from the descriptions SpaceX appears to be seeking highly motivated individuals, so make sure that's a good fit for you.


As an employee of SpaceX for many years, I can tell you that military experience is not something that goes very far in who they hire. Also, I can't think of anyone I knew there who had an electrical engineering degree. Your best shot at landing an engineering role at SpaceX is to get a mechanical engineering degree and have a strong interest in rocket science. For instance, if you have a mechanical engineering degree and also have a YouTube channel where you build and launch rockets. When you apply for the position, they give you the opportunity to show things like a YouTube channel or other social media that displays your talents outside of work experience and education. They look for X factors. They say they get over 30,000 applications per year, so it gets difficult to choose between 100 engineers who look the same on paper. Showing your passion for what they do goes a long way.

  • $\begingroup$ Did you know anyone who came from Big Aerospace? $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Feb 4 at 20:56

If I were you, I would do anything to do with repairing stuff. Airplane mechanic, ordinance technician, etc. There's a huge amount of demand for that kind of person.

If that isn't your thing, you could try to work at one of the various command centers, such as the C-SPOC (Space Track).

Just take a look at the Air Force careers website, start picking something that sounds like you would like, such as pretty much anything at the Electrical/ electronics section, and go from there!

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    $\begingroup$ a friend of mine studied mechanical engineering and now she's part of a lab where they work on jet engine prototypes for one of the largest companies, so it can definitely happen. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Feb 4 at 14:23

(What does "some sort of electrical engineer" mean?)

To become an electrical engineer, one must go to college and get a degree in electrical engineering.

And EE is hard; flunking HS means that you missed out on vital math fundamentals.

That being the case, I'd start by getting your GED (if you really meant that you flunked HS) and then going to a community college and taking all the math courses you can.

Then go to college for electrical engineering.

(If you want to work for SpaceX, then based on the @Kristoffer answer, substitute "mechanical" for "electrical".)


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