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Are you passionate about ensuring the safety and reliability of the world’s most lethal and cutting-edge weaponry? Does the idea of creating technology and then working out its impacts excite you? Do you thrive in dynamic environments where innovation meets rigorous safety standards? If so, you might want to consider joining the team at Lockheed Martin (LM), global leaders in advanced weapon systems development!

Position overview and background:

As a Safety Engineer specializing in advanced weaponry systems, you will play a critical role in ensuring we pass the checks and balances we’ve helped Federal Governments develop. You will collaborate very closely with multidisciplinary teams of engineers, scientists, and analysts to assess, mitigate, and manage risks associated with our most innovative products (however we expect any capabilities insights you discover along the way will be kept from your colleagues).

You might be a good fit if you:

  • Thrive on rigorously testing SOTA lethal weaponry, to ensure their safety and compliance.
  • Enjoy working closely with PR & Comms - as needed you will be asked to appear on various podcasts and give presentations to the weapons Safety community, whom we work very closely with.
  • Have experience in organizations with a flat hierarchy. For example, our CEO works extremely closely with the board.
  • Have industry connections. We maintain close ties with our independent auditors, many of whom used to work at LM!
  • Can predict with 100% accuracy that you won’t ever be interested in moving into different areas of the company. We hire the smartest and most conscientious talent specifically for our Safety teams, and assume they’ll never want to move into weapons capabilities advancement.

Annual Salary (USD)

Multiply the not-for-profit equivalent by 7X.

Join Us:

Apply here by June 16, 2026 (after which it will probably be too late).

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Working as a safety engineer at Lockheed Martin is a great idea! If for no other reason than career capital. Working for a few years as a junior safety engineer at Lockheed Martin can probably be a great skill-building opportunity that will later place you well for working at a high-impact startup like Open Asteroid Impact.

Of course this is an April Fool's day post, but I actually think that Lockheed Martin isn't a great choice for this parody, since (unlike something like a cigarrette company, where the social impact of pretty much any job at the company is going to be "marginally more cigarrettes get sold"), some of the military stuff that Lockheed works on probably very positively impactful on the world, and other stuff is negatively impactful.  So it seems there would be a huge variance in social impact depending on the individual job.

Some examples of how it's tricky to assess whether a given military tech is net positive or negative:

  • Lockheed Martin makes the GPS satellites, which:
    • contribute massive levels of positive economic externalities for the whole world (large positive impact on global development -- literally like 2% of global GDP is directly enabled by GPS...)
    • also enables precision-guided weapons like JDAM bombs instead of the dumb bombs of yesteryear (ambiguous impact -- great that you can cause less collateral damage to hit a given target, but obviously that perhaps encourages you to bomb more targets)
    • little-known fact, the GPS satellites also contain some nuclear-detonation detection hardware -- ambiguous impact since I don't even know the details of what this system does, but probably good for the USA to know ASAP if there are suprise nukes going off somewhere in the world??
  • Not sure if Lockheed specifically makes submarines or submarine-based nuclear missiles, but these were actually immensely helpful for reducing nuclear risk, by creating a robust "second strike" capability, and reducing the "use it or lose it" pressure to preemptively first-strike.  So it strikes me that working on stealthier submarine technology could actually be a great, morally virtuous career choice for reducing nuclear risk.
  • Similarly, I've heard that spy satellites (which Lockheed does make, I think?) were helpful for nuclear risk in the cold war, since once the USA and Soviet Union could see each other's nuclear silos from space, each nation now had an additional way to verify that the other was adhering to arms-control agreements.  This made it easier to make new arms control agreements and ultimately reduce nuclear stockpiles.
  • Anti-ballistic-missile defenses for intercepting nukes in-flight -- is this good (because after all, you are preventing some city from being nuked) or bad (because now you just broke the balance of deterrence, and maybe encourage your enemy to build and launch twice as many nukes to overwhelm your missile defenses)?  Probably bad, but idk.
  • Most of the above examples are nuclear-related, which is kind of a topsy-turvy world where sometimes bad-seeming things can be good and vice versa.  Meanwhile, in the domain of normal weapons, like fighter jets or bombs or tanks or machine guns or whatever, it seems more straightforward that filling the world with more weapons --> ultimately more people dying, somewhere, somehow.  But even here, there are lots of uncertainties and big questions.  The US sent a lot of weapons to Ukraine to help them fight against Russia.  Is this bad (longer war = more Ukrainians and Russians dying, would've been better to just let Ukraine get defeated quickly and mercifully?), or good (making Russia struggle and pay a heavy price for their war of aggression = maybe deters nations from fighting other offensive wars of conquest in the future)?
  • Lockheed spends a lot of R&D money pushing the envelope on cutting-edge technology like drones and hypersonic missiles, which I often think is bad because it is probably just promoting an arms race and encouraging China / Russia / everyone else to try and match our investments in killer drones or whatever.  But if you are sufficiently enthusiastic about America's role in geopolitics, you can always make the classic argument that American hegemony is good for the world (ensure trade, promote democracy, whatever) -> therefore anything that makes America stronger relative to its adversaries is good.  I don't think this argument is strong enough to justify harmful arms races in things like "slaughterbot"-style drones or hypersonics.  But I do think that the US is on net a force for good in the world (at least in the sense of value-over-replacement-superpower), so I do think this argument is worth something.

All the above isn't a criticism of your post at all -- I've just had this military-jobs-related rant pent up in my head for a while and your post happened to remind me to write it up.  I unironically think it would be interesting and helpful (albeit not a top priority) for an EA organization like 80K to engage more deeply about some of these topics (the general quality of discourse around Lockheed-style jobs is very rudimentary and dumb, basically just overall "military-bad" vs "military-good"), and give people some detailed, considered advice about navigating situations like this where the stakes seem high in terms of both upside and downside of potential career impact.

One crucial consideration that might actually end up vindicating the overall "military-bad" vs "military-good" framing -- maybe I do all this detailed thinking and decide to become an engineer working on submarine stealth technology, which is great for reducing nuclear risk.  But maybe if I do that, I actually just free up another Lockheed engineer who isn't a super-well-informed 80,000 Hours fan, and instead of submarine stealth tech, they get a job working on submarine detection technology (which is correspondingly destabilizing to nuclear risk), or hypersonic missiles that are fueling an arms race, or some other terrible thing.  Since most Lockheed engineers aren't EAs, maybe this means the career impact of individual roles really does just reduce to the average career impact of the Lockheed company (or career specialization, like "stealth technology engineer") as a whole.

Final random note: Lockheed salaries are, to my knowledge, not actually exceptional... programmer salaries at most military-industrial places are actually about half that of programmer salaries at "tech" companies like Google and Microsoft: https://www.levels.fyi/?compare=Microsoft,Google,Lockheed%20Martin&track=Software%20Engineer

Engienering at LM might be better than engineering LLMs

Brother I was about to obliterate you in the comments, you full on got me. Thank you & happy April 1 🍻

Thanks for the feedback huw! At LM we know that insights can come from anywhere and thank you for making the effort. In particular, we think about obliteration all the time, one could say it even drives us. I've passed your details onto our Recruitment team: "huw appears strongly values aligned with LM. Please tell him to feel free to apply for one of our graduate positions, where presumably one can feel better working on capabilities since 'someone else will just take the job anyway': https://www.lockheedmartinjobs.com/job/aguadilla/software-engineer-fire-control-weapons-early-career/694/53752768720 "

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