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Career Profile: Astronomers

Observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 2,100 people employed as astronomers in the United States. The median annual salary is $119,700. Entry level employees earn approximately $62,410 per year and senior employees earn approximately $189,690 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Review scientific proposals and research papers.
  • Develop theories based on personal observations or on observations and theories of other astronomers.
  • Calculate orbits and determine sizes, shapes, brightness, and motions of different celestial bodies.
  • Serve on professional panels and committees.
  • Develop and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation.
  • Conduct question-and-answer presentations on astronomy topics with public audiences.
  • Direct the operations of a planetarium.
  • Develop instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis.
  • Mentor graduate students and junior colleagues.
  • Present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for scientific journals.
  • Collaborate with other astronomers to carry out research projects.
  • Analyze research data to determine its significance, using computers.
  • Study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments.
  • Supervise students' research on celestial and astronomical phenomena.
  • Raise funds for scientific research.
  • Teach astronomy or astrophysics.
  • Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
2,100
Annual Openings:
200
Increase in Openings by 2030:
5%
Annual Salary Range:
$62,410 - $189,690
Education Requirements:
Master's degree or higher