8 Careers for Astronomy Grads
So you studied astronomy. What's next?
Astronomy is the oldest of all the natural sciences. It applies elements of physics and mathematics to study the planets, stars, and galaxies above. Astronomy majors explore fascinating questions about the formation of the universe and the celestial bodies within it.
In this degree program, students split their time between observing the skies and developing their theoretical understanding of astronomy. They take courses in geochemistry, cosmology, geology, and observational astronomy. They gain expertise with telescope operation, computational methods, and more.
Along the way, they also develop a valuable set of transferrable skills. Astronomy majors graduate with strong abilities in problem solving, computation, and graphical and statistical analysis. They know how to work with abstract ideas, perform complex calculations, and communicate their results clearly. Finally, they are detail-oriented, curious, and critical thinkers who are unafraid of tackling life's biggest questions. Together, these qualities prepare them well for many careers. Lets take a look at a few of the most common ones.
This article will be covering the following careers:
|Career||Avg Salary||Satisfaction||Your Match|
|Computer Systems Analyst||$55k||3.1/5|
|Air Traffic Controller||$104k||3.3/5|
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Becoming a professional astronomer usually requires a PhD. But it can open some exciting doors. Some astronomers work in the aerospace sector. They support astronauts and engineers—researching, designing, and operating probes, cameras, satellites, and more. Others work as government researchers—one of the most lucrative career options for an astronomy major.
An astronomer is a scientist who focuses primarily on the study of space, which includes the stars, the planets and the galaxies above us.
2. Exhibit Designer
Do you remember the first time you saw a telescope? Or the feeling you got when you learned that the stars are millions of lightyears away? By working at planetariums and museums, astronomy majors can help others discover that same curiosity and passion. As exhibit designers, they'll create shows for people of all ages—bringing cutting-edge science to the public in an accessible and engaging form.
An exhibit designer is someone who creates displays and fixtures for large exhibitions, shows, businesses, museums, libraries, and galleries.
3. Computer Systems Analyst
Astronomy majors graduate with sharp computer skills and an analytical mind. Both of these qualities prepare them well for a career as a computer systems analyst. In this job, they'll work with organizations to create more efficient, productive computer systems. Part business, part IT, part research—this can be an intellectually rewarding job for an astronomy grad.
Computer Systems Analyst
A computer systems analyst is someone who analyzes a company's current computer systems and procedures, and then figures out a way to have the company operate in a more efficient and effective way by providing technology design solutions.
4. Air Traffic Controller
Becoming an air traffic controller requires additional training and certification. But a degree in astronomy is an excellent foundation. Air traffic controllers help aircrafts of all shapes and sizes navigate the skies above. They use technology to view all air traffic in a given area, then coordinate that traffic to ensure all flights can land, pass, or take off as safely as possible.
Air Traffic Controller
An air traffic controller is an individual responsible for directing aircraft in an orderly manner within the global air traffic control system.
5. Aerospace Engineer
Again, this career requires additional training. But for the right person, the payoff will be worth it. Aerospace engineers design, test, and build all kinds of aircrafts and spacecrafts. Astronomy majors already possess many of the technical skills, as well as the math and physics knowledge, needed to succeed in the career. Plus, they're fascinated by the mysteries of outer space—a passion that can take them far.
An aerospace (or aeronautical) engineer, is someone who designs aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, missiles, and systems for national defense.
6. Data Analyst
Astronomy majors' computational and analytical skills are in high demand across a wide range of industries. For this reason, pursuing a career in data analysis can be a natural next step. Data analysts gather, organize, and interpret data of all kinds. By exploring everything from sales numbers to health statistics, they help their employers draw meaningful conclusions and more informed business decisions.
A data analyst is someone who collects, processes and performs statistical analyses of data.
7. Software Engineer
Although a degree in computer science is an asset in this role, it isn't a must. Most employers are looking for software engineers with strong coding skills and an excellent foundation in problem solving and logical thinking. With a bit of self-study, astronomy majors will be well on their way to creating video games, accounting software, and everything in between.
Software engineering is a branch of computer science which includes the development and building of computer systems software and applications software.
Becoming an academic is one of most common career paths for an astronomy major. As faculty members at colleges or universities, they'll conduct research, publish academic papers, and teach astronomy courses. Depending on the school, they may also wind up teaching math or physics courses. Either way, this career can be mentally engaging and socially rewarding for many astronomy graduates.