As astronomy is considered a subfield of physics, astronomers often work closely with physicists. Most astronomers apply themselves to research and development, while a smaller number conduct basic research for the primary purpose of increasing scientific knowledge.
To become an astronomer, certain educational steps are required. With a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in astronomy, a scientist may assist astronomers or work in a museum planetarium program. In order to be a practicing astronomer, a doctorate degree is essential.
Astronomers who work with the Federal government may also need security clearance in order to acquire their jobs.
Most astronomers complete extensive research. They analyze large amounts of data acquired through satellites and computers, and write detailed scientific reports. A smaller number of astronomers operate land or space-based telescopes, usually working as a member of a team of scientists evaluating the data received from their observations.
Museums employ astronomers to oversee planetariums and develop educational materials and programs for the public. Astronomers who require funding often have to write grant proposals to cover their research.
An astronomer might undertake any of the following:
Most astronomers spend the majority of their time in laboratories and offices. Some of these scientists do travel or spend nights observing the sky. Other astronomers spend time working with new technology that can lead to improvements in equipment for observing and analyzing information.
Most funding for research programs that employ astronomers is derived from Federal programs and one particular program, the America COMPETES Act.. In light of this Act, astronomers can anticipate greater opportunities, particularly in the area of research. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job opportunities for astronomers is expected to increase by 16%, which is a greater increase than most professions.
With a salary range from $45,000 to $156,000, the average wage for an astronomer is around $101,000. Salary levels assume that the astronomer has a Ph.D.