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Astronomy as a career

  1. May 26, 2015 #1
    Is this realistic or really just a fantasy career that almost no one ends up doing?

    I would love to learn about space and the universe, but just feel those jobs a extremely rare.

    Can anyone give me any realistic advice on how to getting a job as an astronomer?

    Thank you all!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2015 #2

    e.bar.goum

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    This is a question that is often asked, and I always find it (personally) a bit funny, because most of the people I see every day are physicists and astronomers. There's selection effects for you! :wink:

    However, a reasonable estimate for the number of astronomers in the world is about 10 000. (Going by IAU membership lists and the like). This isn't a particularly large number in terms of of the number of people in the world! But, obviously, not everyone wants to be an astronomer. Being an astronomer isn't about winning the job lottery - there's plenty you can do to to increase your chances in each stage of your education.

    (As an aside: There are plenty of downsides to academia as a career. I wouldn't describe it as a "fantasy". This is one reason why there are lots of people in the world with the interest and abilities to be scientists, but aren't.)
     
  4. May 27, 2015 #3

    Chronos

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    All dreams start as just a dream, You have to want it and work for it with unrelenting determination. The limited number of jobs in professional sports does not prevemt kids from aspiring to that goal. It's all about working hard and making good connections along the way. Only talented and dedicated aspirants achieve lofty goals. You probably already know if you have the talent, the dedication is the hard part.
     
  5. May 27, 2015 #4

    e.bar.goum

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    DominoK, Chronos couldn't be more correct.
     
  6. May 27, 2015 #5
    I think he could be more correct. His post is filled with feel good platitudes. One of the most important things to becoming an astronomer is luck.

    Yes, getting a job as an astronomer is a fantasy career. Most PhDs in astronomy and astrophysics never become professionals in their field. Have you read the "So you want to be a physicist" thread? That is a good road map for how to become an astronomer.

    Note what you wrote in your original post, "I would love to learn about space and the universe" - you can do that without having to bank on a career in astronomy after your education.
     
  7. May 27, 2015 #6

    StatGuy2000

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    Then what would you advise the OP to do instead of pursuing an astronomy degree or seeking a career as an astronomer? What do you consider to be a realistic career goal? What degree program would you recommend instead?
     
  8. May 27, 2015 #7
    In his case I would reccomend studying astronomy since that is what he would love to do but don't expect to get a career in it. Stay flexible and be willing to retrain or at least retool after studying astronomy in the university. If that is too uncertain of a career path then choose something different to study. I don't think there is a natural degree program for would be astronomers who want more job opportunities than astronomy or astrophysics provides. Engieering and computer science come to mind as still technical but with more employment opportunities.
     
  9. May 27, 2015 #8

    atyy

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  10. May 27, 2015 #9

    Chronos

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    A college classmate of mine, who doggedly pursued a career in astrophysics ended up with an immensely rewarding career as an accident reconstruction specialist. The skills acquired from earning a PhD in science has innumerable applications in industry for an opportunist - which you must be to even contemplate an exotic career such as astronomer, pro baseball player, or astronaut. It's true only a fortunate few find their dream job. I encourage all young people to follow their heart while in college. There is no guarantee it will lead to where you hope,, but, not achieving your dream is not a fail, not having a dream is.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
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