Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply?
Check out JPL job opportunities to apply on line.
I'm still in school and have no experience; Can I still work at JPL?
We have the following student programs you can take advantage of:
- Academic Part Time - designed to give local area undergraduates and postgraduates an opportunity to prepare for a career with on-the-job training as a supplement to classroom instruction. Students may work at JPL up to 30 hours per week as APT employees as long as they are enrolled in a degree program.
- Cooperative Education - Employment program for college undergraduates designed to give student on-the-job training as a supplement to classroom instruction.
- Summer Employment - Designed for students to be employed by JPL in full-time positions during their summer break
What is the policy on providing seminars, workshops, and training?
JPL strives to ensure employees keep up their skills and acquire new ones by hosting daily seminars, workshops and training all throughout the laboratory. Your are also encouraged to attend external events that you find on your own.
Can I work at JPL if I have a a non-technical degree?
Aside from our pool of talented scientists and engineers, we have positions like business analysts, facilities specialists, human resource practitioners, public outreach communicators, and administrators to ensure our success.
I'd like to come visit JPL and see what it's like.
We offer Visitor Day tours for individuals and families (up to nine persons) several times per month. These tours run approximately once per week on Monday or Wednesday on an alternating basis. All tours are 2-2.5 hours in duration and commonly include a multi-media presentation
How many people work at JPL?
We have about 5,000 full time employees and on-site contractors.
Who are some of JPL's alumni?
Larry Wall, the creator of the Perl programming language. Frank Drake, the creator of the "Drake Equation" for extraterrestrial life. Dennis Tito, the multimillionaire who became the first tourist in space. Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker.
Could you explain your organizational structure?
We are a matrix organization which means that that most people have two bosses. One resides in the programmatic organizations that make direct contact with the organization's customers, and organize and manage work to meet customer expectations. The other boss lives in the line organizations, functional and service organizations that provide the organization with the resources to accomplish the work
How will my performance be measured? By whom?
We have an annual performance review called the 'Employee Contribution Assessment and Planning' (ECAP) which is conducted by your direct supervisor. The ECAP process is a performance management tool to document past performances and to develop future performance and developmental goals to guide employees towards achieving individual, team, and organizational goals.
What's the relationship between Cal-tech and JPL?
JPL is a Federally Fund Research and Deveopment Center (FFRDC) that participates as a NASA center and exists under government-owned facilities, but is staffed by Caltech employees. This means that you become a Caltech employee whose compensation and benefits policies are established by Caltech. This relationship with Caltech allows us to attend Caltech for continued education, offers opportunities to sit in on courses and facilitates it for many JPL employees to be professors at Caltech.