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A List of Astronomy Jobs

Astronomy, the study of celestial bodies, doesn't provide many job options. According to the American Astronomical Society (AAS), only about 6,000 professional astronomers work in North America as of July 2010, while every year more astronomy Ph.D.'s graduate and look for jobs. Astronomers usually spend 16 years in universities, going through undergraduate school, graduate school and two postdoctoral appointments. They also often have careers in colleges and universities.

Academic

According to the AAS, about 55 percent of professional astronomers work in universities, colleges or university-affiliated observatories and laboratories. Recent astronomy graduates often start by working in postdoctoral research positions and research associateships, working their way up to become senior professors. These astronomers spend their career on research and teaching, although teaching often takes much of their time. They often belong to a physics department or an astronomy department.

Government

According to AAS, about one-third of professional astronomers work with the federal government or observatories and laboratories supported by the federal government. Astronomers at government agencies work on research areas set by their employers, which include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Astronomers at national observatories and laboratories often have more freedom on research areas.

Private

Ten percent of professional astronomers work in the business or private sector, according to AAS data. They might work in the aerospace field, instrumentation, or spectral observation.

Public Service

Astronomers can also work in planetariums or science museums, providing knowledge to the general public. Even before fully graduating, astronomy students might be able to secure these jobs.



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