NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

  www.jpl.nasa.gov
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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Reviews

Updated August 24, 2014
Updated August 24, 2014
199 Reviews

4.2
199 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Dr. Charles Elachi
Dr. Charles Elachi
129 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Also, great 403b plan and a 9/80 work schedule (in 12 reviews)

  • Compensation and benefits are great, very good work/life balance (in 9 reviews)


Cons
  • Budget cuts are a constant threat (in 4 reviews)

  • Career growth can vary greatly and salary compensation is not the best for the number of hours you may put in (in 4 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Brief

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    Pros

    Hours pay benefits work freddom

    Cons

    control pay responsibility advancement perks

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Too much leeway given to suprevisors

  2.  

    The greatest place I've worked, with tons of super smart, emotionally intelligent folks doing great work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    - work on projects no one else can do, that impact or world, that will be in place forever (e.g. Curiosity on Mars)
    - work with people who are incredibly good at what they do. Great place to learn, regardless of
    - emotional intelligence/mgmt skills are better than other research labs I've worked in
    - way better environment than the several other NASA centers I've worked for/with (no civil service system)

    Cons

    - be prepared to work your arse off if you're on a flight project (it's worth it, so not really a con)
    - if you're in a high demand area (e.g. software) it's a pay cut versus commercial industry
    - there is some bureaucracy, probably on par with traditional companies vs startups, nothing like full NASA center in my experience

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Make a difference in this world and others, for pretty okay compensation.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Intern  in  La Canada, CA
    Current Employee - Intern in La Canada, CA

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an intern for more than 3 years

    Pros

    There are few other places on earth where you can do the sort of work they do at JPL. If space is your thing, you will find something new to be excited about every day.

    Cons

    The pay is not quite as nice as it would be for a similar position in the private sector. There is also quite a bit of institutional inertia.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Fantastic place to work though ultimately it didn't fit with my long-term career goals

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    The organization on the whole is outstanding, particularly on Lab as opposed to satellite offices. There is a strong emphasis placed on mentorship and career growth. People frequently mention that they didn't come here intending to make a career out of it but have found that they stayed for decades.

    Cons

    If you are a contractor as opposed to a JPL employee some of the formal benefits of facilities and mentorship are harder to access. Like all governmental agencies it is subject to the strange whims of people very far removed from the actual implementation.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    An amazing place to work. Relaxed, laid-back, yet professional and challenging. A breath of fresh air in aerospace.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    Current Employee - Senior Principal Engineer  in  Pasadena, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Principal Engineer in Pasadena, CA

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a contractor for less than a year

    Pros

    Working here is like working on a college campus. Not completely surprising since it is really owned and run by Cal Tech on NASA's money. People are far more concerned about the quality of the job you do than on exactly what time you arrive in the morning or whether you wear button-down shirts. Great work/life balance!

    Cons

    1) Parking can be challenging. The lot that is accessible by foot fills up before 8:30 in the morning and the other available lot is literally miles away and requires a shuttle bus to get into work. That's supposed to be fixed soon with a new parking structure however. 2) This is an engineering/scientific/research environment. For a single man, the male/female ratio is dismal.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I've only been here a few months, but so far I have no advice to give. I'm happy with all the management I have seen thus far.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7.  

    Amazing internship experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Academic Part Time  in  Pasadena, CA
    Former Employee - Academic Part Time in Pasadena, CA

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an intern for more than a year

    Pros

    I worked as an Academic Part Time (APX) for just over two years (full time during Summers, half time during school). I learned more in a single summer at JPL than I did in four years of university. I was able to make meaningful contributions to multiple projects (I'll have code flying in space in a few years!). I had incredible mentors that were very enabling of my opportunities. Awesome people everywhere to talk to who were all working on interesting and diverse projects.

    My advice to future APX: I think a lot of the internship experience depends on your mentor. If they're not giving you interesting work then just tell them you want to try doing something more challenging and I'm sure they'll be happy to oblige. I've seen an intern just complacently sit around and fill orders for people because he was too afraid to ask to be given some technical work. Maybe he was just scared they'd realize he didn't know anything? Hint: all (first-time) interns don't know anything at first. Just communicate openly about what you do and do not know, and ask for help or to be pointed in the right direction whenever you can. Good luck!

    Cons

    As an intern, I didn't have to worry too much about the red tape, but I could definitely see it restricting my managers' progress, especially on smaller projects. Everyone working there is really busy so sometimes it was hard to get direction on a project.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There needs to be class E missions for Cubesats. If NASA wants to do Cubesats, they're going to have to be willing to let them have a higher failure rate. $3M in overhead on a $6M project is just absurd.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    flight technician

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Flight Technician  in  Pasadena, CA
    Former Employee - Flight Technician in Pasadena, CA

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a contractor for more than 5 years

    Pros

    The best place of employment ever! the best bunch of people i have ever worked with

    Cons

    can't really think of any sorry

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep doing what your doing

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    OK

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    Pros

    RDO pay location sunshine lucrative

    Cons

    overwork stress long hours summer heat

  10.  

    Perfect for the right situation

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Mechanical Engineer  in  Pasadena, CA
    Former Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Pasadena, CA

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    Hard work pays off and it's a fun place to be during successful launches

    Cons

    Pay is not that competitive

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11.  

    Wonderful environment but don't promote top performers

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant  in  Pasadena, CA
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant in Pasadena, CA

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Compensation and benefits are great, very good work/life balance. Flexible when it comes to days off, I never feel like I will get in trouble for taking a sick day when I need it. People are open to teach and help you understand the ways things work at a government contractor facility. organization has strong values and offers support when you feel something unethical is going on.

    Cons

    There has not been much opportunity to grow regardless of stellar performance. The politics and bureaucracy are through the roof at all levels. Strongly opposed to change, even if it will increase work efficiency and retain top talent.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Promote your top talent or you will continue to loose them to your competitors. Don't you know its more expensive to hire a brand new person that to give your stars a raise and promotion?

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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