Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics Job Prospects for Astrophysics Career

  1. Sep 29, 2010 #1
    I am currently a freshmen who is planning on getting a graduate degree in Physics, but specializing in Astrophysics. Since I am not going into this field for the money, I do not care if you are brutally honest with me ha ha.

    I was wondering if someone within this field has a percentage of how many people actually get a research position after they obtain the phd? For instance, I am looking for a percentage of how many people go into industry, post doc, and/or finance after they graduate(Just your personal opinion is all I am asking for)

    How many years would you say the average Astrophysicist stays as a post doc before landing an academic faculty position? Are there research positions outside of academics or not? I know that this field is extremely competitive so I would like to know what I am getting myself into. Any input would be great thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2010 #2
    Immediately after graduation about half the people end up going into post-docs and half do something else. If you look at the situation after five years, about 20% are in tenure track faculty positions, 50% are doing something science-related that isn't tenure track, and 30% are doing something outside of astronomy.

    One of the interesting findings by a professor that keeps track of these things, is that even among people that end up doing astrophysics-related work, people that are tenure track are a minority. There are rather large numbers of people that get work (researcher at national lab) that aren't tenured academic positions.

    Standard is two three year post-docs. You might get a third post-doc. After that, you are not getting tenure track unless you do something unconventional.

    Most astrophysics research positions are in fact non-tenure track positions. There are a lot of people that work for national labs. Also people end up doing support services. Someone ends up managing the department's computers but as part of his contract, he does some research on the side.

    The big problem is that people in graduate school aren't giving information about what jobs are available. In graduate school, you'll be next to professors so there is this incorrect idea that the *only* job available is that of a professor, and that's not true.
  4. Sep 30, 2010 #3
    Thanks for all of the information.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook