"Practical" astrophysics. Hi, just a lowly undergrad hoping for some of the wisdom here to rub off. I have always had a keen interest in astrophysics and have considered giving a colder look at long-term prospects for an academic path in theory/computation in said field. Long-term stability looks as fuzzy and insecure as ever and I've been thinking of other paths that may improve my chances without having to give up on academia entirely (don't live in the US btw, but I'm open to the EU & Canada possibly, assuming I don't renew my US residency status). What about a more "instrumentation"-oriented career path in astrophysics? As in developing particle detectors/telescopes for ground and space observatories, ground control for space probes, etc. Is there a well-worn road to this type of work for physicists or is this more tailored for HEP, electronic & aerospace engineers? Do physicists that do this kind of work generally get to lecture university students and publish in journals as part of the job? Do you also get to work/publish anything theory-related? Are the long-term prospects in this area better or worse than my (possibly naive) interest in phenomenological astrophysics (cosmic rays, solar physics, etc)? Also, I will have to choose one of the following two electives in the spring semester this year, which one should I take given my situation? : "astrophysical fluid dynamics" (appealing theory-wise, and an easy grade-booster according to other students) or "acquisition-transmission of signals & images" (brand new course on electronic communications, may involve some programming which I am weak in, but will probably be beneficial). Any help is greatly appreciated.