Astronaut Salary Guide & Career Outlook

A global look at astronaut salaries shows that there is not disclosed salary information for astronauts in all of the countries explored in this article. There are a variety of astronaut programs but they are not all as comprehensive or robust as NASA. The pay in the United States is around $100,000. In Europe, they earn E70,000 ($77,696). Finally, the salary of an astronaut is not stated in Asia, but in China, the estimated salary is CNY799,205 ($116,000).

This astronaut salary and career guide will be different than some of the other salary guides on this site. Broad salaries will be described as well as a more detailed analysis of the space programs in different countries.

How Much Does an Astronaut Make per Year by Country?

Astronaut Salary US Europe China
Hourly Pay $48.07* E27.67* ($30.75) CNY384.23* ($55.79)
Annual Pay $100,000 E70,000 ($77,696) CNY799,205 ($116,000)

Pay information denoted with a (*) indicates the hourly pay was correlated from the annual salary.

Astronaut Salary Influencing Factors

Different countries have various levels of space programs and number of astronauts. None of their information is present in one location. Different countries report their information in various levels and information.

1. Location

How Much Does an Astronaut Make in the US?

Astronaut Salary China Per Year Per Hour
Minimum $64,724 $30.90
Maximum $141,715 $68.13
Bonus/Tip No additional pay No additional pay
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay $64,724 to $141,715

How Much Does an Astronaut make in Europe?

Astronaut Salary China Per Year Per Hour
Minimum E58,848 E28.29
Maximum E84,372 E40.56
Bonus/Tip No additional pay No additional pay
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay E58,848 to E84,372

How Much Does an Astronaut make in China?

Astronaut Salary China Per Year Per Hour
Minimum CNY604,588 CNY290.61
Maximum CNY1,038,778 CNY499.41
Bonus/Tip No additional pay No additional pay
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay No additional pay

2. Experience

All entry level astronauts make less money than those with more experience. In Europe, the average astronaut salary generally increases after their first flight. The experience scales in Europe are between A2 and A4. This scale is set by the Coordinated Organisations which works across European countries. An astronaut can advance from an A2 to an A4 when they transition from recruit to full-fledged astronaut.

In the United States, there are 43 astronauts and they are classified for pay on a government scale from GS-11 to GS-14. Salaries increase as they gain experience and additional training.

3. Industry

It is extremely competitive to be an astronaut. They need an advanced degree, several years of experience, and they have to train their bodies to ensure they are prepared for the rigors of space travel.

Globally, there are 70 space programs. However, only three space agencies are active to the point of being able to send humans into space. There is a huge distinction between the space industry in the United States and elsewhere. In the United States, the military and civilian space industries are different. However, in most other countries, they are not separated.

In Europe, the funding comes from three different sources: the EU, the European Commission, and the European Space Agency. In China, the funding is only partially released and they try to protect their national interest. The first successful mission for China was in 2008 when they did their first spacewalk.

Only 18 of these space programs have some sort of space impact. The other 50 have a space interest but do not have enough funding or development to launch a satellite or other impact.

Schedule & Working Hours

Astronauts have a very unique and interesting job. Even when they are not in space, they train like they are. This includes a very fixed 24-hour schedule because they need to establish a specific circadian rhythm. They even need to control their sleeping environment. For example, they need to sleep in a bag next to a van in order to prepare them to poor ventilation and a lack of oxygen in space.

Bonuses & Benefits

Astronauts who travel into space have a very cool job. The appeal of their job is that they get to see parts of the universe that only a few other people have seen. Astronauts in the United States who are classified as military receive excellent benefits, healthcare and otherwise.

Astronauts especially enjoy the ability to go to schools and tell students all about what it is like to live in space.

It is important to consider some of the cons of being an astronaut. They have to fight and reverse many of the harmful bodily impacts that traveling in space has. Astronauts spend very little of their time in space.

Career Outlook

There are so few astronauts that it is hard to understand their job outlook. It is extremely competitive to become an astronaut. The requirements to be eligible to be an astronaut in the United States are a bachelor’s degree, 3 years of flying experience, and several interviews at Johnson Space Center. The training program takes two additional years.


Astronauts have such a rare position that it is very hard to generate rich salary data. Add to that the fact that many countries try to keep their salary information for astronauts secret, and it is easy to see why a comprehensive astronaut salary and career guide is hard to capture. However, the pay for these professionals is quite high. But their job is also demanding and dangerous. You might also want to consider the position of a pilot as a more accessible career path in the flying industries.

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