Astrophysicist Salary: Opportunities & Income

In summary, the conversation discusses the opportunities and salary for a PhD astrophysicist worldwide. It is mentioned that the salary for astrophysicists is not as high as that of doctors, but it is still a good, upper middle class salary. The conversation also touches on the idea of pursuing a career in astrophysics for the passion rather than for the salary. It is suggested that if money is the main motivating factor, then another career should be considered. Some other potential career options within the field of physics are also mentioned. Overall, the conversation highlights the importance of following one's passion and considering the intangible benefits of a career.
  • #1
thinkies
249
0
Hey guys/girls,

I was wondering if some of you can tell how good are the opportunities for a phD astrophysicist worldwide and exactly how much do they get paid. One thing that's bothering me is that we study for phD level and from what I've heard, astrophysicist don't really get as much as a doctor. Doctors often make 10-20 TIMES more then astrophysicist. ON TOP, my parents are *kinda* forcing me to take biology and become a doctor, they believe i will 'ruin' my life and even waste time...without earning a lot(beside,almost everyone in my family is a doctor...=.= )...

Any thoughts about this?! I am so confused and frustrated...

Thanks.
 
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  • #2
Most professors make good, upper middle class salaries. There are many shorter paths that also lead to good, upper middle class salaries, though, so you should only pursue astrophysics if it's a passion, and you just cannot imagine yourself doing anything else.

- Warren
 
  • #3
Doctors often make 10-20 TIMES more then astrophysicist.
That's not really the case, but it's probably something like 5-10 times depending on the astrophysicist and the doctor's specialty.
 
  • #4
Still, does that mean there is really no way that you can actually have an increase of salary? at least 100 000$/year ^.^...

Is there any other branch related with astronomy that makes more then astrophysicists?

Thanks ^.^
 
  • #5
Hey guys, just wondering, is it ok if someone does physics (with no particular astronomy background)phD and get hired for many *key* positions in astronomy.Just thinking, this way, since astronomer doesn't pay much (not at least 200 000 $/year,which is what most of the doctors in my family make)it'll open more gates to me, like other jobs(can someone also list those kind of jobs, I really have low knowledge regarding that).

Thanks once more and sorry bumping this thread again ^.^ ...
 
  • #6
Some professors reach the $100k mark, sure.

If money is a primary motivating factor for you, you really shouldn't consider anything academic. The truth is that getting a PhD in physics is at least a 10 year commitment (starting in undergraduate school) during which you're hardly paid enough to eat. After you get the degree, you might spend years working visiting professorships or post-doctorate positions, again barely making enough money to eat. Once you finally break into the upper-tier schools -- if you do -- you might eventually make $100k/year.

I think it's pretty apparent that you don't care enough about the field to invest ten to fifteen years of your life to get to $100k/year. You're already asking us if there are other jobs which pay more.

Physics isn't a way to get rich. Give it up. Find another career.

- Warren
 
  • #7
Well, if you work in academics, you are not going to earn as much as a Doctor (I assume medical doctor.) It's just a fact of life. You won't be poor, but I have my doubts that you'll earn over 200,000 per year as an astrophysics. But hey, I know money is important thing to consider, but you should also consider the intangible things that come with being an astrophysicists. For starts, how cool would it be to say you are one?

You can double major in biology and physics. If you feel that you want to make more money as a doctor go that route, but if you find your love to be in space, go that route. Hell you might be able to do astro-biology or something,
 
  • #8
My one friend just got offered 75k to work for cisco entry level, as a comp eng( working as a programmer) on the east coast and its not that expensive to live where he's at, not bad for a 4 year degree.
 
  • #9
enjoy what you do for a living because most likely you will be doing it for a long time. I would rather make decent money($70,000) and like what I do than make $300,000 and absolutely hate what I do.
 
  • #10
chroot said:
Some professors reach the $100k mark, sure.

If money is a primary motivating factor for you, you really shouldn't consider anything academic. The truth is that getting a PhD in physics is at least a 10 year commitment (starting in undergraduate school) during which you're hardly paid enough to eat. After you get the degree, you might spend years working visiting professorships or post-doctorate positions, again barely making enough money to eat. Once you finally break into the upper-tier schools -- if you do -- you might eventually make $100k/year.

I think it's pretty apparent that you don't care enough about the field to invest ten to fifteen years of your life to get to $100k/year. You're already asking us if there are other jobs which pay more.

Physics isn't a way to get rich. Give it up. Find another career.

- Warren
Hi,thanks for your response. I was simply asking for an alternate way, however, it seems there's not really much of path that may lead to more $. Astronomy is what I like, I am not giving top priority to money, so I will likely be going in physics...Thanks though :).
 
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  • #11
PowerIso said:
Well, if you work in academics, you are not going to earn as much as a Doctor (I assume medical doctor.) It's just a fact of life. You won't be poor, but I have my doubts that you'll earn over 200,000 per year as an astrophysics. But hey, I know money is important thing to consider, but you should also consider the intangible things that come with being an astrophysicists. For starts, how cool would it be to say you are one?

You can double major in biology and physics. If you feel that you want to make more money as a doctor go that route, but if you find your love to be in space, go that route. Hell you might be able to do astro-biology or something,

Thank you for your response. Any ideas of careers open to me in double majoring biology and physics? For a double major physics, do you know in what kind of astronomy department I can get into (same thing for bio, any list)?...And um...how long is that going to take,double major in those fields (biology and physics).

Thanks :D
 
  • #12
john16O said:
enjoy what you do for a living because most likely you will be doing it for a long time. I would rather make decent money($70,000) and like what I do than make $300,000 and absolutely hate what I do.

Of course, money is not my top-commitment...;)
 
  • #13
AND why does a f***** doctor make more then an astrophysicist, both of them require same hard work, just different fields. Lack of people in astrophysics?...o.0
 
  • #14
thinkies said:
AND why does a f***** doctor make more then an astrophysicist, both of them require same hard work, just different fields. Lack of people in astrophysics?...o.0

No its not that, its just that the field of medicine is something that is in use every single day, while on the other hand the field of astrophysics is something that people would want for enjoyment (as in reading about it or just to know how the solar system works, not a top need).
 
  • #15
This is random...but is there something called double-master degree for biology and physics...or is the same as double major...^.^
 
  • #16
But also, since i am going to uni quit some years after(im only in 9th!), i was wondering if time can be a key-leader in pure astrophysics jobs...lets say demands get higher by 2025(year where i will be holding a phd in astrophysics)...?u know...with all those super claims of stuff with space related things that going to happen by then..

Any thoughts?
 
  • #17
Um as far as my understanding goes, you can only do one Masters degree at a time! But if I could suggest something:

Seeing as your parents would love you to become a Doctor, and you want to become an astrophysicist, why not do both at the same time? Basically some Universities if not all allow a merged program between a Masters/PhD. and an MD degree. In other words you study a bit for your Masters and then you end and study/finish your Medical Degree and then go back and finish your masters/PhD.

Usually you will find these programs under the title of PhD./MD Program or Masters/MD Program.

Hope this has helped a bit.
 
  • #18
thinkies said:
But also, since i am going to uni quit some years after(im only in 9th!), i was wondering if time can be a key-leader in pure astrophysics jobs...lets say demands get higher by 2025(year where i will be holding a phd in astrophysics)...?u know...with all those super claims of stuff with space related things that going to happen by then..

Any thoughts?

Well as demand for a certain job increases, there will be more jobs offered and you will get a job easier. But in terms of Salary increases, it is possible but don't quote me on that. Although there is a big possibility if you are one of the first to enter the high-demand industry, you could demand they give you a certain salary seeing as there is/could be a limited amount of astrophysicists (I hate spelling this word lol). I have seen this happen, so I am sure of this!

It is great that your already thinking of what to do when you finish High school, seeing as your only 9th grade but don't let this worry you too much. Believe me I entered high school with basically no idea of what I wanted to do! By the 11 grade I had chosen something to do with medical or biological research. So don't worry, you might be able to get more information later on.
 
  • #19
thinkies said:
AND why does a f***** doctor make more then an astrophysicist, both of them require same hard work, just different fields. Lack of people in astrophysics?...o.0

Because physicians go to school for 8 years and on top of that have another 4-6 years in residency training before they make any real money. On top of that physicians leave medical schools in debt in the range of $150,000+, are constantly sued, and pay 30% of their incomes toward malpractice insurance premiums. Some physicians who specialize in high risk surgery/procedures spend $10,000 a month to cover their a$$ with insurance.
 
  • #20
gravenewworld said:
Because physicians go to school for 8 years and on top of that have another 4-6 years in residency training before they make any real money. On top of that physicians leave medical schools in debt in the range of $150,000+, are constantly sued, and pay 30% of their incomes toward malpractice insurance premiums. Some physicians who specialize in high risk surgery/procedures spend $10,000 a month to cover their a$$ with insurance.

That is also true when you sum it all up it really does end up being a very small difference between an MD and a PhD.

But I think if your studying general/Family Medicine then you only study around 4 to 6 years with 2 years in residency. Not sure though.
 
  • #21
BioCore said:
Um as far as my understanding goes, you can only do one Masters degree at a time! But if I could suggest something:

Seeing as your parents would love you to become a Doctor, and you want to become an astrophysicist, why not do both at the same time? Basically some Universities if not all allow a merged program between a Masters/PhD. and an MD degree. In other words you study a bit for your Masters and then you end and study/finish your Medical Degree and then go back and finish your masters/PhD.

Usually you will find these programs under the title of PhD./MD Program or Masters/MD Program.

Hope this has helped a bit.

ABOSLUTELY WHAT I HAVE IN MIND! How long, combined all that, is it going to take me?

Master in biology + phD physics
 
  • #22
You're only in ninth grade. It's cool that you're asking questions about this stuff, but don't even think about making any "decisions" yet. It's pointless.

- Warren
 
  • #23
If I were you, Id throw in a nobel prize or two for good measure.
 
  • #24
@thinkies, depends really on how fast you want to finish. I have heard from some people that they finished their Masters in one year, others more. It is really up to how much effort and time you put in that determines how much time you spend on a degree.
 
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  • #25
To answer a question he posed earlier here. You can typically finish a double major in 4 years or if you started college a bit behind, 5 years. As for a program that will mix biology and physics, consider biophysics.

Anyway, don't worry. You're young enough to not worry to much about what your major should be or what you want to be but old enough to start finding out. When I was your age, I wanted to be a lawyer, but meh I'm now doing math. Things change, embrace it.
 
  • #26
thinkies said:
AND why does a f***** doctor make more then an astrophysicist, both of them require same hard work, just different fields. Lack of people in astrophysics?...o.0

Well as one of my friends (a fellow physics grad student) said, "when doctors mess up, no one dies." Let's face it, medicine is just a lot more useful to society than astrophysics. It's true that an astrophysicist's research may lead to the idea that leads to the idea that leads to some new technological marvel. But doctors need to save lives every day, which requires a whole lot of innovation, and leads to technological advancement a lot faster thanan astrophysicist's work. I might concede that astrophysicists are smarter...though as an astrophysics grad student myself I'm obviously biased. However, at the end of the day people need medical doctors way more than they need us.

Anyway to answer your question, I can give you some hard figures from my school. My thesis advisor (tenured professor) makes $90,000/year. The assistant professor in my research group makes $80,000/year. Of course my research group is really comprised of physicists masquerading as astronomers (I do high energy astro, which is really more physics than astro), so maybe their salaries are slightly higher than that of most astronomers. For example, there's full professor in my department who does regular astro, who makes $80,000/year. There's also an older woman in my department who makes $100,000/year, but she's ~60, so maybe it's because she's been around for awhile.

So if my physics & astronomy department is representative of most departments in America, these should tell you the sort of salary you can expect to make as an astrophysicist. You won't be rolling in dough, but it's more than enough for a very comfortable life. We who do academics do have a few advantages over doctors too. We can come and go as we please, we don't have to carry beepers around, and we get to contribute to scientific scholarship full-time (no life saving to get in the way). Resident physicians work 60 hours per week because they have to. We work 60 hours per week because we love what we do. Personally I very much enjoy analyzing data to look for information about stellar evolution, soldering preamplifiers, and yes, even doing my statistical mechanics homework. And even my measly graduate stipend is more than enough for me to get by (yes that's right, we effectively get paid to do our homework in graduate school). It's also the sort of job from which you never have to retire, if you don't want to. There are a lot of old physicists in my department. I think quite a few of them are probably going to die before they quit physics.

Does this sound appealing to you? If so, then sign up in a few years. But if not, then I'd recommend running away while you still can. It's an arduous and rewarding path, but it doesn't have much financial incentive. You don't want to want to waste 9-10 years on something that won't fiscally pay off.
 
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  • #27
Thanks for the answers above. As for me not worrying taking decision, I really have to worry. Next year, in 10th grade, there will be 3 kinds of math, among them i will have to chose ONE. Each deal with particular branches. Theres this math classe called Math AND techno-science ad there's this math class called Math AND Science (<-- This category includes all typical topics related with science). Now how will this affect my classes? The way I will learn math. If i was to chosee math and science, the toughest math class, I will be thought lots of stuff, such pre-calculus starting in my 10th! and much more (specially other stuff that'll develop my competency, such is evaluating problems,proving,etcetc)...So see why its important..

And the problem, let's say i want pursue physics in college, I will have to choose math and science, whereas if i was to choose biology, i THINK i will have techno-science math,right?
Or would math and science deal with biology+physics(this,of course is only high school, it'll get more complicated in college...)..
 
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  • #28
Also, since a phD in physics typically takes around 10 years/or more, is it possible that within those 10-15 years whatsoever I end up with a master in biology AND a phd In physics.

Having 2 classes same day, biology+physics (im not too keen with biophysics...im more of a space guy..)Im sure this will demand effort, but I am quit a hard working guy...

Thanks.
 
  • #29
one last question, sorry for the spam ^.^, but biology doesn't deal with math right? OR else i will end up with a brain hemorrhage (or whatever you call that)...though i love math with physics ;)...
 
  • #30
You're in the 9th grade mate, when I was your age I never imagined I'd end up doing mathematics for the rest of my life. It's never going to pay much but it satisfies my ego. In the end that's what its about. But I decided what I'd do only a few weeks before my first public exam whereas it stuck for good.
Double majors are a good option, not certain how it works where you are but usually a BSc level physics degree(with specialisation in astrophysics in the 3rd and honours year) can go along with the general medicine option and that'll take you 5+ years(most likely 6 or 7). Add to that the practitioner residency of 2 or 4 years and you have a career to go with a fascination.
However you'll need to work harder than most and have an aptitude for medicine!
 
  • #31
yasiru89 said:
You're in the 9th grade mate, when I was your age I never imagined I'd end up doing mathematics for the rest of my life. It's never going to pay much but it satisfies my ego. In the end that's what its about. But I decided what I'd do only a few weeks before my first public exam whereas it stuck for good.
Double majors are a good option, not certain how it works where you are but usually a BSc level physics degree(with specialisation in astrophysics in the 3rd and honours year) can go along with the general medicine option and that'll take you 5+ years(most likely 6 or 7). Add to that the practitioner residency of 2 or 4 years and you have a career to go with a fascination.
However you'll need to work harder than most and have an aptitude for medicine!

Any ideas how much it'll take me *MASTER* in *biology* + *phD* in *physics(astrophysics/astronomy specialization)*?

Is it possible that I earn both degrees in a typical 10-15 years? (Lets say, starting from college, i take medicine + physics,both classes every day until the end of my university)...? Is it possible? thanks
 
  • #32
thinkies said:
AND why does a f***** doctor make more then an astrophysicist, both of them require same hard work, just different fields. Lack of people in astrophysics?...o.0

Not to offend, but I can go my whole life without even thinking about astrophysics, but let me try passing a kidney stone at 3 in the morning...Oy Vey! Money is a measure of what society thinks something is worth.

And, of course, doctors long ago recognized the need to control entry and practice in their profession. If they wore hard hats, we'd say they have a union shop.
 
  • #33
  • #34
thinkies said:
my parents are *kinda* forcing me to take biology and become a doctor,

I don't know where you are, but in the USA at least, getting into medical school is a very competitive process. One of the things admissions committees look at is motivation. They want solid indications that you have an internal drive to become a doctor, that you want to do medicine for its own sake and for helping other people, not because you're after the money or because you're being pushed into it.

I've served on the committee that interviews pre-medical students at my college and writes letters of recommendation for them for their applications to medical schools. One of the key factors we evaluated was motivation.
 
  • #35
jtbell said:
I don't know where you are, but in the USA at least, getting into medical school is a very competitive process. One of the things admissions committees look at is motivation. They want solid indications that you have an internal drive to become a doctor, that you want to do medicine for its own sake and for helping other people, not because you're after the money or because you're being pushed into it.

I've served on the committee that interviews pre-medical students at my college and writes letters of recommendation for them for their applications to medical schools. One of the key factors we evaluated was motivation.

I love biology, but not as much as physics. I am a motivated person And $ is NOT my primary goal. Its just a fact I have to consider. And i do like helping people, I've done some couple of works such as raising for money for old people foundation (something like that), unicef, other works etc ;)...
 

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