Information on a degree in Astronomy?

Right now I'm a year into online college for computer programming and database. I'm worried about job security as alot of jobs are getting outsourced to India and I am deeply interested in other fields. Not only this, but everything in the programming world is boring. Cubicle jobs for big greedy businesses and there's nothing you can really do in programming to make yourself stand out from others. Every piece of code you write has already been written by someone else before. Not only this, but I don't want a job where I will be staring at a computer screen for the next 20+ years.

I've gotten into astronomy in the past year and love it. I bought an Orion XT8 telescope and frequently come here for questions regarding accessories and so on. I've had an interested in space since I was 7 years old. I'm now interested in a possible career in astronomy.

What type of jobs and pay are there for a person with an astronomy degree? Has anyone else here majored in astronomy? I'm just skimming the surface of this subject right now but before I do another 2-3 years of college and am about to finish, I would like to know if a different career area is for me. Anyone got information on an astronomy degree or good websites? I appreciate any responses and help.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Astronomy is divided into two main areas, astronomy and astrophysics. Astronomers, also known as observational astronomers, are mostly based at major observatories, colleges, and research institutions. They use equipment such as optical or radio telescopes to collect and analyze data about stars, planets, and other celestial bodies.

    Astronomers measure properties such as mass, distance, size, and motion of the objects they see in space to test their ideas or hypotheses. They pay particular attention to objects that might crash into the earth, such as meteors. Astronomers also work with other scientists, like meteorologists, to predict weather patterns based on solar activity.

    Astrophysicists, also known as theoretical astronomers, use the laws of physics and mathematics to test theories concerned with matter and energy, as well as atoms and molecules.

    They occasionally test theories on particles in the lab using equipment to smash particles together at high speed to analyze the effect they have on each other. By performing such experiments, they hope to learn about the nature and history of the universe. These experiments may also help them research things like the sun’s energy force and determine how it can be harnessed and used as a power supply on earth.

    A large number of astronomers work as professors of astronomy at colleges across the country. These astronomers have a dual role, as both scientists and educators. In addition to their own studies and research, they must compose and present instructive lectures on astronomy, as well as mentor students and evaluate their work


    Most astronomers work at colleges as professors. They teach classes and work in research labs and observatories. Many others work for government organizations and national observatories. Some work for aerospace firms, museums, and planetariums.

    Salaries for astronomers vary depending on employer, education, and experience. However, the median annual salary for all astronomers in America is around $96,000, with most earning salaries between $45,000 and $150,000 a year.

    The salary for an astronomy professor at a 4-year college can range from $40,000 to $130,000 a year. Professors often do other research projects to increase their income.

    Astronomers who work for the federal government typically receive higher wages. The average salary for astronomers and space scientists who work for the government is around $118,000 a year. A PhD in astronomy is required for most positions in this field. The usual path is to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in physics or astronomy, followed by a master’s degree, and then a PhD. This requires about 9 to 10 years of study. The work doesn’t end there however. PhD graduates must prove themselves by having articles published in magazines or journals before they become well-established.

    Astronomers who work for private companies, planetariums, or museums may be hired with only a bachelor’s degree in science or astronomy. This would also qualify them for support roles in laboratories and observatories.

    Senior applied research positions at private companies usually require a Master of Science degree. This degree may also be enough to teach in some 2-year colleges. However, if you want to teach at a 4-year college or secure a government research position, you will need a PhD

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    Crossbred... seams an apt name considering... a degree in Astronomy is not a fail.

    Most of those on my course had no intention of becoming an astronomer after the degree. The subject is highly prized by employers for the reason others have highlighted. Don't think for one second you will be 'looking' through a telescope though...

    There are not many jobs in the field for research astronomers... Once you have the skills, there is nothing stopping you from creating your own jobs. The Market is booming with the increase in public interest etc, as with anything, it takes an innovative approach to identify unique ways of capitalising on your training.

    I left university after Studying a degree in Observational Astronomy in 2013. I am now self employed and have the freedom to come and go as I please, as for earnings, I do well enough to buy things most others cant... last month I treated myself to upgrade one of my guide telescopes for £1500 , this month I bought myself a new 24mm f1.4L Canon lens, another £1200 (I wonder if Crossbred spanks over a grand each month on stuff he wants with his profits)

    One thing I would say is that Astronomy takes commitment, dedication and the ability to 'research'...

  • 1 decade ago

    A better route is via physics. I majored in physics, and my PhD is in physics. The reason is that physics is a broader education spectrum, and colleges like that. Astronomy is a branch of physics, which encompasses many subjects which are required by many aspects of astronomy. Currently, I am employed as a professor of astronomy in a university, which enables me to carry out research in another branch of astronomy called cosmology. Cosmology is a very physics and maths heavy subject, and delves into the more esoteric parts of our science. Salary is about $120,000 plus a small research grant which enables me to finance assistance from a couple of grad students in my research (at the moment, into M Theory). Without a PhD, jobs are more restricted to computer programming, working as a technician in an observatory, museum or educational establishment. Good luck in whatever you decide to do, but don't go into it for the money! There isn't any.

  • 1 decade ago

    To follow up to what others have said. There is a VERY limited availability of jobs in the field. The website that I've provided below gives a pretty good summary about Astronomy in a practical and job related sense. Basically, there's virtually no jobs in the field right now, most people with such degrees won't end up doing things that directly utilize their university degrees education.

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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Swinburne offers a PhD - they might have a bachelors program as well. However, it won't be highly regarded, because any astronomy program will require physics, and physics requires labs.

  • 1 decade ago

    didnt read the question

    answer: degree in astronomy=fail

    maybe astrophyics or something would work for you, but

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