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Astronomer

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All About Astronomers

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

Daily Life Of an Astronomer

  • Analyze research data to determine its significance, using computers.
  • Present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for scientific journals.
  • Develop instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis.
  • Serve on professional panels and committees.
  • Teach astronomy or astrophysics.
  • Study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments.

Astronomer Skills

Astronomers state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

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.

  • Astronomy Professor
  • Associate Professor
  • Institute Scientist
  • Astronomer
  • Astrophysicist

Astronomer Employment Estimates

There were about 2,000 jobs for Astronomer in 2016 (in the United States). 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.

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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.

Salary for an Astronomer

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

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

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Astronomers 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

Tools & Technologies Used by Astronomers

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 to Become an Astronomer

Individuals working as an Astronomer have obtained the following education levels:

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What work experience do I need to become an Astronomer?

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Who Employs Astronomers?

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The table below shows the approximate number of Astronomers employed by various industries.

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References:

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

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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