By Bridgette Hernandez
Astronomy is a career choice of people who have a passion
for it. However, it is not a typical career direction. What some astronomy
students fear is will they be able to find a job in their field of expertise. Another
career aspect that can puzzle them is what they can do with a degree in
Astronomers may not be as numerous as economists for
example, but there are different career paths they can follow. If you are
wondering where astronomy majors can take you in the future, here are a few
career paths you can consider.
1. Science Museums
Science museums provide a link between the general public
and astronomy. Therefore, astronomers that work in science museums are
dedicated to present astronomy to the audience. Aside from the broad knowledge
of astronomy, this job position requires an ability to communicate effectively
and clearly. The relationship with the public is a very important aspect.
Even though most astronomers who work in this field do have advanced
degrees, it is not a necessity. If you have an undergraduate major in
astronomy, for example, you can find a job in support positions.
2. College or University Professor
Teaching is a rewarding job and working as a college or
university professor is one of the most popular choices for astronomers. The American Astronomical Society (AAS)
claims that around 55% of professional astronomers decide to work as faculty
members at universities and colleges. This position doesn’t just require
teaching but research and scientific projects as well.
To pursue this career path you need a Ph.D. and
recommendations. In addition to working as a professor in astronomy
departments, you can also teach in physics departments. Because of your
training, you can cover different courses and be a part of different
departments. You might also have an opportunity to teach both astronomy and
Carole Haswell, a Professor of Astrophysics, Head of Astronomy
and Exoplanet investigator at the Open University explained for writes UK’s Royal Astronomical Society why
she loves her job, “Watching and giving
presentations on new research results. Helping students succeed, and
occasionally feeling I’ve made a difference. Being able to hold up a candle for
rationality. Being paid to read and write and to think about beautiful
astronomical images and possible new space missions.”
3. Private Companies
The private sector might offer less secure employment, but
it offers higher diversity as well as higher compensation. Astronomers that
don’t have Ph.Ds. will have more options in the private industries. When you
think about private companies who need astronomers your first guess is probably
Aerospace companies. The aerospace field needs astronomers to stay ahead of the
competition through extensive research. Spaceflight companies can also require
astronomers. Besides them, you can also find a job in consulting firms.
A job in consulting firms can demand data processing,
management positions, designing and manufacturing scientific equipment, writing
software, and others. Working in a private sector can give you more challenging
opportunities and a chance for professional growth. That can be a compromise
for a lack of job stability.
4. Government Laboratories
Some professional astronomers find employment in government
laboratories or federally supported laboratories. These government agencies can
be the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US. Naval
Observatory, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), etc. General requirements
include a Ph.D. in astronomy or physics and sometimes a specialized field of
Governmental agencies can give astronomers time to devote to
the research of personal interests, however, their research tasks are usually
closely defined by the agency. Employers usually have specific goals and
objectives that the employees need to complete so astronomers have to adapt
their work to the agency’s interests.
5. Science Writing
Be a part of research teams and take on the role of the
writer. If you don’t mind spending your time writing about what you love,
science writing may be just for you. The styles of writing you can engage in
- Research proposals
- Professional journal manuscripts
- Topical reviews
- Articles for Astronomy
Besides transmitting facts, as a science writer, you have to
be able to compose a well-woven and convincing story. Anthony Pierce, a science
writer at BestEssaysEducation,
shared his experience, “I got into
science writing when I was an astrology student. I started writing college
essays in the fields of physics and astronomy and it led me to a career as a
science writer. Now, I contribute astronomy-related articles to different
scientific magazines and writing services.”
6. Observatory Scientist
Observatories can be the place that evoked your love for
astronomy. If you have dreamed of working in one of those incredible places you
can achieve that. As an observatory scientist, you would enhance the scientific
productivity of the observatory. You’ll do that through collaboration with
guest observers, developing observing projects, and helping in achieving their
Communication skill is a benefit for this position since
- Present scientific results at conferences and workshops
- Handle communication with guest observers
- Resolve any issues that occur between the observations
performance and publication of results.
This job can be truly thrilling, dynamic, and exciting. If
this is what you look for in a career, an observatory scientist can a great
choice for you.
7. Scientific Computing
Computer science and Astronomy is a combination that
promises numerous employment options. The rise in digitalization is what
demands a high need for computer science experts. When you add training in
astronomy to that, you’ll get a new perspective in interdisciplinary work.
You’ll be able to use computational expertise and problem-solving
skills to uncover the mysteries of the universe. Some astronomy departments
offer this combination while in others you might need to seek some computing
courses on your own.
Astronomy is an exciting field and contrary to popular opinions,
it does offer a variety of career paths. You might not be able to recognize
your ideal job at first, but knowing what awaits you can be a huge relief.
Some students know right
away what they want to do when they graduate while others tend to experiment
with different jobs until they find the right fit. Either way, what’s important
is that you work in the field that you love.
Bridgette Hernandez is
a Master in Anthropology and a freelance writer. She found her purpose in
writing as it gives her an opportunity to exchange ideas and share her
knowledge with others. Currently, she is working as a contributor writer at GrabMyEssay and TrustMyPaper.
She also does some editing at ClassyEssay,
and SupremeDissertations. Bridgette
likes to expand her fields of expertise by attending international conferences
and taking courses on different subjects. In her free time, she volunteers at a
local animal rescue.