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What is an Astronomer?

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

Life As an Astronomer

  • Serve on professional panels and committees.
  • Calculate orbits and determine sizes, shapes, brightness, and motions of different celestial bodies.
  • Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources.
  • Review scientific proposals and research papers.
  • Present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for scientific journals.
  • Develop and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation.

What Every Astronomer Should Know

These are the skills Astronomers say are the most useful in their careers:

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.

Types of Astronomer

  • Professor
  • Space Sciences Director
  • Astronomy Department Chair
  • Physics and Astronomy Professor
  • Institute Scientist

Job Opportunities for Astronomers

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. There will be an estimated 200 positions for Astronomer per year.


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.

How Much Does an Astronomer Make?

The average yearly salary of an Astronomer ranges between $57,490 and $165,770.


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 & Technology 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 to Become an Astronomer

Learn what Astronomer education requirements there are.


How many years of work experience do I need?


Where Astronomers Are Employed


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



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

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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