# Physics Astronomer Salary

1. Apr 20, 2017

### Gjmdp

When watching astronomer salaries here in Physics forums, it makes clear that they don't get paid much, like 50k on average if you are a super star of Physics. Now, when I watch sites like http://www1.salary.com/Astronomer-Salaries.html and
https://www.sokanu.com/careers/astronomer/salary/ it seems like they get paid more than 104k.
Is that I'm misunderstanding something?

Now, with brilliant astronomers, like Kip Thorne, Leonard Susskind, Alan Guth, Mac Low & lots of them, it happens that I could take them like beggards if I didn't know who they are! Is there any reason in particular? Don't take me wrong, I respect every and all of these people, but it's just an impresion I have. Is it that astronomers don't get even paid?

Thanks, as always.

2. Apr 20, 2017

### Staff: Mentor

Can you post a link to a specific thread or post where you saw a figure like that?

3. Apr 20, 2017

Staff Emeritus
And why you think people like Lenny Susskind are astronomers?

4. Apr 21, 2017

A new assistant professor in physics at a small teaching-oriented college in a rural area of the US might start at $50k. 5. Apr 21, 2017 ### ChrisVer "beggars" - I don't think academia pays well... at least if you try and compare it with (similar) positions in the industry then you will see that being an academic is not an option... at least not if the only thing you want to count at the end of the month is the bills in your pocket. Now if you criticize their appearance, that's another thing... There's no dress-code for work... without a dress-code, you allow anyone to go around in any outfit or appearance they feel like (not changing). 6. Apr 21, 2017 ### TeethWhitener A PhD astronomer working for some place like NASA will probably get paid roughly what the rest of the PhDs in the government get paid: ~$100k +/- $30k depending on where they are in their career and cost of living/locality adjustments. Gov't salaries are publicly available and standardized for the most part. PhDs start at GS-11 or GS-12 which have base rates of$50-60k, but if you're working in, say, Houston, locality pay will bump that up to $70-80k. 7. Apr 21, 2017 ### Choppy There are a lot of factors at play when one looks at salaries for a given career. When you're looking at something academic in nature like "astronomer" remember that salary is usually a data point for someone who is at the height of his or her career. Whereas in a profession like engineering, you might start out earning a salary at 23 years old after completing an undergraduate degree, to become a professional astronomer, you have to do a PhD - earning very little money until you are almost 30. Then you compete for temporary post-doctoral positions, earning a little more than you did as a grad student, but not a lot - probably something comparable to the starting salary of that 23 year old engineer. Then you compete for assistant professor positions. If you make it as a tenured professor, you're probably into your forties, but then can report the$100k+ salaries that you're seeing on the salary survey sights. And even then there's the question of whether you're looking at a median or a mean. Some prestigious positions may skew the mean value for everyone else. The post probable salary might be much smaller that what's reported.

And don't forget sampling bias. Where did these numbers come from - a survey of actual salaries, or were they self-reported by people "claiming" to be astronomers. What definition of "astronomer" did they use and is that consistent with what you're envisioning?

8. Apr 22, 2017

### Gjmdp

9. Apr 22, 2017

Staff Emeritus
You got some very good questions about exactly waht you are asking. You declined to answer them, instead pointing us to a comic strip. Do you really want an answer?

10. Apr 22, 2017

### Gjmdp

Well sorry. I just wanted to show something that was curious. Just that. I didn't consider that my response could make such answer. Sorry for the inconveniences.

11. Apr 22, 2017

### Staff: Mentor

I think this is simply a caricature of the well-known stereotype of the professor who simply doesn't care about clothes regardless of whether he can afford "good" clothes. Clothing doesn't necessarily correlate to wealth. I myself never wore a suit and tie when lecturing. I never wore jeans, either, but that was mainly because it simply wasn't the custom among the other professors in my building. When I was a graduate student, I wore jeans. Now that I'm retired, I happily wear jeans and sweatshirts, or shorts (depending on the weather) most of the time.

12. Apr 22, 2017

### ChrisVer

and you did that in USA? just imagine Germany (more renowned for the weird dressing styles)

13. Apr 22, 2017

### Staff: Mentor

I don't think I had any professor normally lecturing in suit and tie (Germany). If they had some important meeting with funding agencies the same day, it could happen, but it was not the typical outfit.