STEM Career Profile: Astronomer
The darkness of the night sky illuminates the countless stars, planets, and more that populate our universe. But have you wondered how we know all this? How can we measure their size, distance, movement, and history, when we are so small and so far away? Part of the answer is the field of astronomy. Astronomers use the science and math that you study in class and point it skywards. They use equations, laws of physics, and more to figure out the universe.
Becoming an astronomer is far from an overnight task. Earning a Ph.D. in astronomy can take five to seven years to complete. On top of that, graduates spend another two to three years researching under the guidance of more experienced astronomers. Those wanting to enter this field should work on their researching skills and ability to analyze data. They should work hard at math and science in school, and also be able to work in a team.
Astronomers do not typically work alone. They are usually working within a team composed of scientists in an office environment. They also use observatories to gaze up at the skies via telescopes. Most are hired to work at colleges and universities, where they conduct research in the field. Those are not the only places you will find astronomers, however. The federal government hires astronomers too, and departments of private research and development may also rely on astronomers.
The Government of Alberta’s Learning Information Service reported in 2015 that astronomers in that particular province make an average salary of $109,525. Astronomy professors in Ontario had an average salary greater than $100 000 in 2014, according to the Ontario Treasury Board Secretariat’s Public Sector Salary Disclosure. The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reported that the number of astronomers in the United States would increase by 3% from the year 2014 to 2024. This is a slow growth rate, partly because astronomers depend greatly on grant money from the government for research.
Nevertheless, the field is filled with excitement and opportunity. The advent of new technologies and discoveries makes this a very exciting time to pursue the subject. Astronomers work hard to develop theories related to our universe and write proposals for research. It can be a thrilling challenge to find ways to test these ideas. This can be followed by extensive analysis and writing scientific papers that are read and reviewed by other experts. This ensures that ideas are accurate and can lead to groundbreaking discoveries. These newfound concepts and understandings of our universe have a profound impact on our lives.
From planets to black holes, from in-depth mathematical formulas to childlike stargazing, astronomy is filled with wonder and awe. By putting greater efforts into your math and science studies now, you can lay the foundation for your future career. The field pushes humanity’s knowledge beyond its supposed limits and helps us realize how vast existence really is. As an astronomer, you can be a part of that grand journey.
Lindzon, Jared. I want to be an astronomy. What will my salary be? www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/career-advice/life-at-work/i-want-to-be-an-astronomer-what-will-my-salary-be/article24512769/
National Careers Service. Astronomer. https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/astronomer.aspx
Study.com. Astronomer: Job Info & Career Requirements. http://study.com/articles/Astronomer_Job_Information_and_Requirements_for_Students_Considering_a_Career_in_Astronomy.html