Astronomers study the totality of the universe, including the solar system, galactic, and extragalactic systems, extrasolar planets, and much more. Individuals aspiring to become astronomers need to have excellent knowledge of physics and mathematics. The profession is known to be lucrative, with the average salary standing at USD 100,000 annually.
This study of celestial objects has helped mankind make space travel and satellite communication possible. The research done by astronomers has also played a crucial role in the development of many medical instruments. NASA employs a large number of astronomers to work on their aerospace technology and space mission programs.
Education and Job Description
If you are looking to make a career in astronomy, then you need to start by enrolling in a four-year bachelor's degree program. The coursework will include the study of the solar system, use and study of observational equipment and techniques. However, this is just basic preparation. To get gainful employment, students need to enroll for a master's degree program that lasts for two years. For career advancement and to get research positions, students are required to complete a doctoral program and acquire a Ph.D. in astronomy.
The job involves studying the different aspects of galaxies, stars, planetary systems, and other extragalactic objects. Astronomers work as researchers and have to interpret data collected by observatories. At times, they have to work from remote locations, by staying at observatories. The study of planets, formation of stars, and understanding their structural details are some of the most difficult tasks that astronomers undertake.
Making a career in the field of astronomy isn't that easy. You need to be highly qualified and have keen analytical skills. The average salary stands at USD 95,000 annually at the entry-level. Astronomers mostly work in the field of research and a large percentage of them work on government projects. The department of defense also hires astronomers and the salaries can average at around USD 110,000 annually.
Astronomers help chart flight plans and coordinate on projects regarding satellites and are hired by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Their unique ability and knowledge of space, coupled with their mathematical and physics acumen makes them an integral part of mission control. Astronomers get compensated substantially for the work they do and are paid salaries that may touch the USD 150,000 mark.
According to reports, an astronomer will earn a median salary of USD 110,000 annually in a state like California. For a state like New York, the salary can range between USD 110,000 to USD 135,000 annually.
Astronomers have to use some of the latest technology in telescopes to do their job. They also have to rely on hi-tech computers to help them interpret large volumes of data collected by satellites. The astronomer's compensation for this tedious job is quite comparable to other professions. They get around USD 98,000 annually. Individuals with just a bachelor's degree in astronomy get paid less than their counterparts with a Ph.D.
Astronomers also work in museums and assist with managing and developing planetariums. Some opt for teaching jobs and are well compensated. The salary is highly lucrative and according to the bureau of labor statistics, the job outlook for this profession is going to see a positive trend in the coming years.