ASTRONOMERS use the principles of physics and mathematics to learn about the universe including the sun, moon, planets, stars, and galaxies. Almost all do research. They also apply their knowledge to problems in navigation, space flight, and satellite communications, and to develop instruments and techniques to observe and collect astronomical data. Almost all astronomers do research. Some are theoreticians who study the structure and evolution of astronomical objects. Others analyze data from observatories and satellites, and write scientific papers or reports on their findings.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $115,500 average per year ($55.50 per hour)
- A small occupation (1,800 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow moderately (1.6% per year)
A doctoral degree is the usual educational requirement for ASTRONOMERS, because most jobs are in basic research and development. Additional experience and training in a post-doctoral research assignment is helpful in preparing astronomers for permanent research positions. Those planning a career in astronomy should have a very strong physics background. An undergraduate degree in either physics or astronomy is excellent preparation, followed by a Ph.D. in astronomy. Many astronomy Ph.D. holders ultimately teach at the college or university level.