Astronomy & Astrophysics
Types of Degrees Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors Are Getting
The following table lists how many astronomy and astrophysics graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.
|Education Level||Number of Grads|
What Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors Need to Know
In an O*NET survey, astronomy majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.
Knowledge Areas for Astronomy Majors
Astronomy majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:
- Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
- Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Skills for Astronomy Majors
A major in astronomy prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:
- Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Abilities for Astronomy Majors
Astronomy majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:
- Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
What Can You Do With a Astronomy & Astrophysics Major?
Below is a list of occupations associated with astronomy:
|Job Title||Job Growth Rate||Median Salary|
|Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors||9.9%||$90,860|
|Natural Sciences Managers||9.9%||$123,860|
|Physics Postsecondary Professors||10.2%||$90,800|
Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Astronomy & Astrophysics?
At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of astronomy majors is as follows:
|Race/Ethnicity||Number of Grads|
|Black or African American||16|
|Hispanic or Latino||82|
Students from other countries are interested in Astronomy, too. About 7.6% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:
- South Korea
How Much Do Astronomy & Astrophysics Majors Make?
Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary
Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that astronomy and astrophysics students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree made a median starting salary of $27,700 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $27,700 (25th percentile) and $27,700 (75th percentile).
Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a astronomy degree.
Salaries According to BLS
Astronomy majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $103,830 to $125,280 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.
To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.
Amount of Education Required for Careers Related to Astronomy & Astrophysics
Some careers associated with astronomy require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.
Find out what the typical degree level is for astronomy careers below.
|Education Level||Percentage of Workers|
|High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED)||0.2%|
|Some College Courses||0.2%|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||0.4%|
|Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master.||2.6%|
|Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level.||0.9%|
Online Astronomy & Astrophysics Programs
In the 2018-2019 academic year, 151 schools offered some type of astronomy and astrophysics program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.
|Degree Level||Colleges Offering Programs||Colleges Offering Online Classes|
|Certificate (Less Than 1 Year)||12||0|
|Certificate (1-2 years)||1||0|
|Certificate (2-4 Years)||0||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Research)||50||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice)||0||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Other)||0||0|
Is a Degree in Astronomy & Astrophysics Worth It?
The median salary for a astronomy grad is $111,090 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.
This is 178% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,423,800 after 20 years!
Top Ranking Lists for Astronomy & Astrophysics
Explore Major by State
Majors Related to Astronomy & Astrophysics
You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to astronomy.
|Major||Number of Grads|
|Geological & Earth Sciences||9,522|
|General Physical Sciences||4,527|
|Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology||1,072|
|Other Physical Science||503|
*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.
- College Factual
- College Scorecard
- National Center for Education Statistics
- O*NET Online
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers First Quarter 2020
More about our data sources and methodologies.
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