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Astrophysics careers

  1. Nov 2, 2016 #1
    I am currently studying Physics, Chemistry, Maths and further maths at A level, and I am interested in going to university and studying astrophysics. However I was wondering how can you get a job in this field of science after you get your astrophysics degree? I have done some research and discovered that there are only a few jobs available so getting a positions must be very competitive. If anyone could offer any advice I would be very grateful.
    Thanks Julia
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2016 #2


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    If you decide to study astrophysics, you should be fully prepared both emotionally and practically for the strong likelihood that you will not end up in an astrophysics research position. For the practical aspect, you should develop skills that are useful in other kinds of jobs (e.g. programming and data analysis). Keep your eyes open for fields and positions that use those skills, and learn something about them along with astrophysics. Then you will be prepared whichever way things turn out.

    If you end up working at an investment bank or something like that, will you consider the years that you spent studying astrophysics and doing research as a Ph.D. student to have been a waste of time, or an interesting phase of your life?
  4. Nov 5, 2016 #3
    Because of the competition? I'm only a sophomore, still deciding what direction I want to go in, but I love Astrophysics, its really whats drawn me into this area. If I can't do research are there still industry related jobs for astrophysics so I can be at least somewhat in this field? I'm just trying to think ahead long term for what I want and what my focus is.
  5. Nov 5, 2016 #4

    George Jones

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    Yes, the number of qualified applicants is much greater than the number of positions available.
  6. Nov 5, 2016 #5


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    The way the common argument goes is that astrophysics is a field that's predominantly restricted to academia. The typical professor will train about ten graduate students over his or her career. One of those students will, on average replace him or her. You also have a handful that will disperse to teaching colleges, or get positions in national labs. But there isn't a lot of industrial demand for astrophysics per se. So the odds are still that after completing the PhD you'll end up in another field and this won't be a function of how smart you are or how hard you work because once you're in the pool of PhD graduates, it's more or less a given that you're smart and hard-working.

    That said, I don't think the picture is necessarily as grim as it's often made out to be. There are tangential fields. I don't really know much about the space physics field, but there are obviously industrial applications for satellites, so you might be able to get into that, depending on what you develop your expertise in. Or if you develop strength in astronomy imaging you might be able to transition into medical imaging or some other kind of industrial imaging. Going into medical physics specifically would require some additional training, but that's an option too.
  7. Nov 5, 2016 #6
    I definitely don't want to end up in medical physics, I have too many family members involved in the medical field and its a little soured for me. Thank you for your thoughts, I'm trying to go into this with my eyes as wide open as possible. I'm not afraid of a challenge but I also haven't settled on any one area yet.
  8. Nov 9, 2016 #7
    Thanks guys, this is all very useful. I think that I would find it very interesting, however it would be disappointing for me as obviously I would rather be studying astrophysics. I am willing to accept that even if I do work very hard I may not get the position that I want though.
  9. Nov 9, 2016 #8
    I like your spirit Julia00. No doubt Astrophysics is a niche field of study but a really dedicated person might always find some way to get arelevant opportunity. At least you will not regret that you did not try. Best wishes for you.
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