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I'm interested in switching careers to the astronomy field(s)

  1. Jan 26, 2014 #1
    Hi everybody!

    I've recently decided to make a substantive change in my life, and leave the legal profession for the astronomy world.

    I am not all too keen on accruing debt or working in a legal capacity. But I 'm figuring that there must be a decent-sized body of support personnel (associated with collection/analysis of data, deployment of tools, laboratory work, or otherwise) that help to make all of the wonderful discoveries in astronomy possible. So I am hoping I can leverage my existing skills or never-ending interest in learning on the job to fit into the community somewhere.

    I am a lawyer with a great deal of exposure to data science. I manage big data projects in which I oversee the structuring of data, use of analytics, optical-character recognition, and other processes in order to achieve a very high degree of accuracy in databasing for the purpose of discovery in investigations and litigation. This requires me to build teams of lawyers and technologists, lead the development of tools, discover search errors/exceptions and instances where data has not been integrated properly along the way, and many other things. It is a good job, but my calling is elsewhere, and this is my intelligence-gathering phase prior to the jump! While I have no formal training in the sciences, this is more than a hobby for me -- I spend most of my free time studying math, physics, and growing my understanding of astronomy, and I am a keen astrophotographer.

    I'm interested in your thoughts, but specifically -- for those who work in the astronomy community -- what do you do, what is your educational background, and what do you do day-to-day? What are some of the support positions that people don't necessarily hear about, for example, in the data sciences, photography, or development of tools? How might I be able to work in the astronomy community?

    Thank you in advance for any information that you can provide!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Here's the problem - virtually every one of those positions is held by a PhD astronomer. They may not require a PhD astronomer, but there are still plenty of them out who are willing to take it.
  4. Jan 26, 2014 #3


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    ...because the field is *flooded* with people who are overwhelmed by their passion for the field.

    OP, you've chosen what could be a very rocky path. If you chose to follow through with this, self-study isn't nearly enough. You need bona fides. And you'll have to start with math - lots and lots of math.

    Have you taken calculus yet?
  5. Jan 26, 2014 #4


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    Don't quit your day job. Buy yourself a telescope.
  6. Jan 27, 2014 #5
    Agree with SteamKing.
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