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In astronomy what is the average duration of doing postdocs?

  1. Jan 13, 2016 #1

    I read that in astronomy a PhD lasts an average of 6.1 years.

    But what about postdoctoral research?

    In astronomy, what is the average duration of doing postdocs before finally getting a real job? (a job as an astronomer; not reconverting to another field to get a job in this other field)

    Thanks in advance for your answers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2016 #2


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    From my experience, it seems that most people do either 1 or 2 postdocs, each one lasting 2-3 years. If they don't find a "real job" after 2 postdocs, they probably aren't going to, and they look in other fields. Others may have different experiences.
  4. Jan 14, 2016 #3
    I also wondered about this:
    Suppose that your parents were rich and provided you with more than enough money to live for as long as you wanted, which means that you have no pressure to quit your postdocs to get a job in a different field than astronomy in order to earn more money.
    Would it be possible to continue doing postdocs after postdocs... even if you can't get a permanent position after one or two postdocs you continue doing many many postdocs... for 10 years... maybe even for 15 years... and then, with all this research experience that you have accumulated, surely you will find a permanent position.
    Would this be possible? Is this really a 100% sure way to get a permanent position as a researcher in astronomy? Or would this highly increase your chance of getting a permanent position but still not give you 100% certainty of getting a permanent position?
    Or is there a flaw in my reasoning somewhere? Maybe you won't get a permanent position after doing 10 to 15 years of postdocs because having made so many postdocs would look extremely weird? Or maybe for some reason it's impossible (or very hard) to be accepted to more postdocs after you have already completed two postdocs?
  5. Jan 14, 2016 #4


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    I would not even say that it increases your chances. Many tenure track positions specifically ask for a maximum number of years since obtaining your PhD and those who do not are often going to prefer younger candidates. The clear question is going to be "why did this person not get a fixed job earlier?" The hiring committees are generally going to look at your production and compare it to your active time, not just look at your total production without regard for how long it took you to get there.

    Of course, I am talking in general terms. There may be exceptions.
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