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Life As an Astronomer

Job Description: Observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.

Astronomer Responsibilities

  • Analyze research data to determine its significance, using computers.
  • Teach astronomy or astrophysics.
  • Raise funds for scientific research.
  • Direct the operations of a planetarium.
  • Collaborate with other astronomers to carry out research projects.
  • Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources.

Things an Astronomer Should Know How to Do

Below is a list of the skills most Astronomers say are important on the job.

Science: Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Active Learning: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Mathematics: Using mathematics to solve problems.

Other Astronomer Job Titles

  • Institute Scientist
  • Space Sciences Director
  • Physics and Astronomy Professor
  • Astrophysicist
  • Astronomer

Is There Going to be Demand for Astronomers?

In the United States, there were 2,000 jobs for Astronomer in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 10% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 200 new jobs for Astronomer by 2026. The BLS estimates 200 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Astronomers in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Astronomer are Arizona, Washington, and Texas. Watch out if you plan on working in Hawaii, Maryland, or Texas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Do Astronomers Make A Lot Of Money?

The typical yearly salary for Astronomers is somewhere between $57,490 and $165,770.

Salary Ranges for Astronomers

Astronomers who work in District of Columbia, California, or Hawaii, make the highest salaries.

How much do Astronomers make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Arizona $104,100
California $113,130
District of Columbia $123,640
Hawaii $126,170
New Mexico $78,910
Texas $107,350

What Tools do Astronomers Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Astronomers:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Web browser software
  • Python
  • Structured query language SQL
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • SAS
  • Linux
  • IBM SPSS Statistics
  • R
  • National Instruments LabVIEW
  • Apache Hadoop
  • Formula translation/translator FORTRAN
  • Software development tools
  • Interface definition language IDL
  • C++
  • Visual Numerics PV-WAVE

How do I Become an Astronomer?

What kind of Astronomer requirements are there?

Astronomer Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become an Astronomer?

Astronomer Work Experience

Where Astronomers Are Employed

Astronomer Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Astronomer Industries


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz. via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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