Astronomer

Take a trip into the universe!

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Degree

First you'll go to college for four (or maybe five) years to get a bachelor's degree. A bachelor of science (BS) in astronomy is best, but you can still get into grad school with a bachelor of arts (BA), or a degree in physics or even other fields. Then comes grad school or five or six years. There are a very small number of jobs available for people who only have a Master's degree in astronomy, primarily in public outreach and teaching. Unless you have a very specific idea of what you want to do, and you're sure you can do it with just an M.S., you should plan to get a PhD.

Job description

Astronomers are sometimes called astrophysicists. They use the laws of physics and mathematics to learn about the nature of matter and energy throughout the universe, which includes the sun, moon, planets, stars, and galaxies. In addition, astronomers apply their knowledge to solve problems in navigation, space flight, and satellite communications. They also develop the instruments and techniques needed to observe and collect astronomical data.


Pay Scale

Median—$97,320 per year

Where You'll Work

Many astronomers work in colleges and universities where they do research and teach astronomy. Some work in observatories, planetariums, and museums where they help to explain what is known about the universe to the public. Some astronomers primarily gather and analyze large quantities of data from observatories and satellites. They usually only spend a few weeks each year making observations with telescopes.