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Astrophysicist salary

  1. Feb 12, 2008 #1
    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 beleive 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...

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2008 #2


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    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
  4. Feb 12, 2008 #3


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    That's not really the case, but it's probably something like 5-10 times depending on the astrophysicist and the doctor's specialty.
  5. Feb 12, 2008 #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 ^.^
  6. Feb 12, 2008 #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 doesnt 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 ^.^ ...
  7. Feb 12, 2008 #6


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    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
  8. Feb 12, 2008 #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,
  9. Feb 12, 2008 #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.
  10. Feb 12, 2008 #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.
  11. Feb 12, 2008 #10
    Hi,thanks for your response. I was simply asking for an alternate way, however, it seems theres 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 :).
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2008
  12. Feb 12, 2008 #11
    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 gonna take,double major in those fields (biology and physics).

    Thanks :D
  13. Feb 12, 2008 #12
    Of course, money is not my top-commitment....;)
  14. Feb 12, 2008 #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
  15. Feb 12, 2008 #14
    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).
  16. Feb 12, 2008 #15
    This is random...but is there something called double-master degree for biology and physics...or is the same as double major...^.^
  17. Feb 12, 2008 #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 gonna happen by then..

    Any thoughts?
  18. Feb 12, 2008 #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.
  19. Feb 12, 2008 #18
    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.
  20. Feb 12, 2008 #19
    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.
  21. Feb 12, 2008 #20
    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.
  22. Feb 12, 2008 #21
    ABOSLUTELY WHAT I HAVE IN MIND! How long, combined all that, is it gonna take me?

    Master in biology + phD physics
  23. Feb 12, 2008 #22


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    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
  24. Feb 12, 2008 #23
    If I were you, Id throw in a nobel prize or two for good measure.
  25. Feb 12, 2008 #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.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2008
  26. Feb 13, 2008 #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.
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