A screenshot from Star Trek: Lower Decks season 2, episode 10, "First First Contact", showing Lieutenants Kimolu and Matt smiling.

6 Jobs I’d Love to See More of on Star Trek

Every starship captain thinks he's a lawyer, huh?

What’s the first thing that comes to your head when you think of jobs on a starship in Star Trek? The most common ones are probably Captain, First Officer, Chief Medical Officer, maybe Science Officer or Engineer depending on your preference. The Bridge crew certainly gets their fair share of time in the sun but what about the hundreds of other crewmen aboard a space vessel? With Star Trek: Lower Decks, we’re seeing more lesser-known positions and dirty work of a starship but there are still so many unexplored areas of work in this post-scarcity “utopia”.

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Let’s rank the most unexplored and explained quadrants of the Star Trek canon for the work aboard a starship that we’d love to go in for a closer look at.

Ship’s Counselor

(Paramount+)

At the lowest point on this list, we have Ship’s Counselor, mostly because it’s arguably the job on this list we’ve seen the most screen time dedicated to. Between seven seasons, a few movies, some guest appearances, and a spinoff, Commander Deanna Troi is likely the first person many Star Trek fans picture when they think of the title, especially since Troi’s introduction in The Next Generation was the first time the role existed onscreen.

And yet, aside from Troi and the brief stint of Ezri Dax on Deep Space 9, we’ve barely seen anything resembling a ship’s counselor in Star Trek since. The few times we’ve seen counselors in modern Trek, like Discovery’s Hugh Culber or Doctor Migleemo from Lower Decks, it’s in addition to being a chief medical officer, or as “the worst counselor in the fleet” respectively. As one of the roles that is specifically interested in the general well-being and psyche of a starship’s crew, it’s a really unique way to get at those inner thoughts that come with occasionally holding the fate of the galaxy in your hands. No pressure!

The Janitor

A screen capture of Star Trek: Wrath of Khan that shows a janitor cleaning behind Kirk and Spock.
(Paramount Pictures)

This one is not low on the list because it’s a crappy job, I promise. In fact, the only reason this custodial position is so low on this list is that there isn’t a clear consensus from Trekkies on whether it actually exists. We can see examples of cleanup crew in shots like the one above from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and more recently in the anthology series Short Treks episode “The Trouble with Edward.” But we also have examples like The Next Generation episode “Up The Long Ladder,” where Riker says that “the ship will clean itself” and multiple instances in Star Trek: Discovery where cleaning drones come out to clean up messes after a misused phaser or torpedo.

a screenshot from the Star Trek: Short Treks episode "The Trouble with Edward" , where a janitor is cleaning up Tribbles.
Do the ships clean themselves or not, Star Trek? (Paramount+)

It’s entirely possible that the answer here is that a combination of lower-ranked crewmen and technology is responsible for keeping a starship spick and span. It’s possible that Riker saying the ship will clean itself is just code for saying “Ah, let the ensigns clean up the mess, that’s not my job”. Especially after we’ve seen some of the increasingly gross work that gets done on Lower Decks.

Mess Officer (Chef)

A promotional image for Star Trek: Voyager featuring Neetlix holding a soup ladle and a serving apparatus piped out of a cooking pot.
(Paramount+)

Ah yes, the starship cook. Often mentioned in passing with lines like “my compliment to the ship’s cook” or to “report to the chef” while rarely ever being named or shown. The regular Mess Officers of a starship are pretty wide on the popularity spectrum, with Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager being one of the most disliked characters by many fans to The Next Generation‘s Guinan, a series favorite. Neelix is arguably the only time we actually see a Mess Officer as an actual cook, though, and he answers one of the most common questions we see across Star Trek as a franchise: What’s the point of a cook when you have replicators?

It’s hard to overstate how much food brings people together as a communal activity and why it makes for a great way to explore different facets of characters in Star Trek. There’s a reason why Captain Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is often talking to his officers while making a meal, and why it makes him so compelling! Now if we could just get another chef on a ship that actually has a name, unlike SOME Trek prequels …

Cetacean Ops

A screengrab from Star Trek: Lower Decks of Lieutenant Matt from Cetacean Ops
My reaction when you almost made whales extinct (Paramount+)

Ok, I did this one on porpoise. The concept of Cetacean Ops, or navigation operated by marine mammals like dolphins and whales, is something that dates back to the conception of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the original blueprints for the Enterprise-D, a cetacean navigation lab is listed on Deck 13, and this also get some background chatter and display in a few TNG episodes. It’s only with Lower Decks that we see Cetacean Ops for the first time with Lieutenants Kimolu and Matt serving aboard the Cerritos in the episode “First First Contact”.

What does this mean for the command structure of Starfleet? Is there an entire ship filled with dolphins and whales? Are there dolphin captains out there? There’s nothing in the rules that says a whale can’t fly a ship and Star Trek denying us this is cowardice, actually.

JAG Core (Attorneys)

Yetide Badaki as Neera in episode 202 “Ad Astra per Aspera” of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
(Paramount+)

The courtroom drama scenes of Star Trek are hard not to love for challenging the utopian ideals of the Federation. Some of the best and most poignant episodes in franchise history come out of legal questions, like The Next Generation‘s “Measure of a Man” and “The Drumhead”, and the most recent example of “Ad Astra Per Aspera” from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

This is easily one of the aspects of the show that’s just begging for even more screen time. What are the ramifications of the ruling that Data is not the property of Starfleet? Who’s fighting those battles for the autonomy of beings across the galaxy? Also, why do so many starship officers think they can just represent themselves or their fellow crew in court? All of the above is why, even though we do already have multiple examples of this career in Star Trek, it still ranks so high on this list. But not quite as high as …

Inspector General OR Internal Affairs

A screencap from Star Trek: Deep Space 9 of Luther Sloan.
(Paramount+)

Arguably the most interesting role we know by name and yet know so little about is Starfleet’s Internal Affairs. Also referred to by the title of Inspector General, these officers are quite simply tasked with investigating misconduct, criminal activity, and any other major security threats to the Federation. Sounds like an exciting guest character opportunity for a storyline, right?

Except we’ve never actually had anyone from Internal Affairs shown in Star Trek in earnest. Sure, we’ve got plenty of officers under the banner of Starfleet Intelligence, including the secretive black ops Section 31 initiative. But in the two named examples we have, Luther Sloan from Deep Space 9 is actually our introduction to Section 31 and Commander Dexter Remmick from TNG is actually just a collection of brainworms. (“Conspiracy” is a wild episode.) So what does this department actually do?

Imagine, if you will: A noir procedural set in the world of Star Trek where Internal Affairs officers are sent to investigate different ships and starbases when reports of foul play come in that needs someone to look into it and figure out what went wrong. Throw in a legal proceeding here and there and you’ve just made Law and Order: Star Trek —but with a lot less copaganda messaging! You can have that one Paramount, but also, call me if you do pick this up.

(featured image: Paramount+)


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Author
Joan Zahra Dark
Joan Zahra Dark (they/them) is a freelance writer, organizer, and interdisciplinary artist. They love talking about queer comics, stories that can only be told through interactive mediums, worker cooperatives and gay robots. They’re based in Queens, NYC.