How do I get an Astronomy Degree?

Harriette Halepis

Obtaining an astronomy degree requires a great deal of schooling. Since astronomy is a science that relies heavily upon math, excellence in mathematics and science is necessary. Many students wishing to become astronomers begin reaching science and math goals as early as high school. During high school years, basic high school calculus should be mastered, along with basic science courses.

Astronomy students often organize field trips that are centered around unusual celestial events, such as eclipses or meteor showers.
Astronomy students often organize field trips that are centered around unusual celestial events, such as eclipses or meteor showers.

At the college or university level, students seeking an astronomy degree should either obtain a bachelor of science in astronomy degree, or a bachelor of arts degree. Whole most future astronomers tend to obtain a bachelor of science degree, some bachelors of arts students may also be admitted to astronomy programs at the graduate level.

Prospective astronomers who want to specialize in radio astronomy should be familiar with the physics behind radio propagation.
Prospective astronomers who want to specialize in radio astronomy should be familiar with the physics behind radio propagation.

While education is important, research may be more important. Following college or university, prospective astronomers should find a way to gain field experience. This experience can be obtained by internships, working on data analysis, finding computer programming jobs, or seeking instrument building positions.

Field experience is an important step in becoming an astronomer.
Field experience is an important step in becoming an astronomer.

National astronomy observatories often offer internships to recent graduates, and these opportunities should not be overlooked. Astronomy graduates must also attend graduate school where further astronomy-related courses are taught. Once a doctoral astronomy degree has been obtained, astronomers can look for jobs in all kinds of places.

Astronomy students often have a fascination with Earth's place in the solar system.
Astronomy students often have a fascination with Earth's place in the solar system.

Most astronomers accept positions at academic institutions. Becoming an astronomy teacher allows astronomers to research, learn, and teach what they have learned to eager students. Other places to look for astronomy positions include observatories, government, and laboratories. While finding high-paid astronomy jobs may be difficult, astronomers are highly sought-after for a number of other reasons.

Many research facilities often employ astronomers as management consultants. Consultants with science backgrounds are useful when it comes to technical data, and complex research projects. Opportunities within the management consultant field are scarce, though they are often available for those that excel within their field.

The key to obtaining a well-paid astronomy position is through research. Astronomers that make a point of publishing sound research tend to gain a lot of attention within the astronomy field. By building a solid reputation, some astronomers manage to make themselves invaluable to various types of employers.

Skill-wise, astronomers must have excellent math and physics skills. Also, astronomers should have strong computer programming skills. Computers are widely used within the astronomy field, which is why computer courses are necessary in order to obtain an astronomy degree. Lastly, astronomers must also have superb writing skills, since a large portion of time will be spent drafting grant proposals.

People with astronomy degrees may work in observatories.
People with astronomy degrees may work in observatories.

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Discussion Comments

halepis

I'm glad that you enjoyed the article (rallenwriter and googlefranz)!

Zenmaster: compare and contrast online schools according to teacher qualifications, student reviews, and course curriculum. Good luck!

zenmaster

How can I find a good online astronomy degree school? I really want to find a reputable one to start my career in astronomy -- can anybody recommend one for me, or tell me how to choose a good one?

googlefanz

This article really helped me out a lot. I had to write a paper on astronomy careers, and had the hardest time finding good astronomy information. This gave me all the information -- thanks!

rallenwriter

Very informative article. I think oftentimes degrees in astronomy get lumped in with underwater basket weaving and things like that, so they don't get the respect they deserve.

I don't know if people get it confused with astrology or what, but so many people just look at you cross-eyed when you say you're getting a degree in astronomy.

Like you said, it takes a lot to refill the astronomy degree requirements, and people shouldn't take it lightly.

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