What classes should I take to become an astronomer?
This question was asked by a high school student in Utah whose favorite memory of her childhood is stargazing with her cousins while spending summers camping at Natural Bridges State Park. She hopes to one day stargaze for a living. #astronomy #planetary-science #outer-space #star-gazing
What Classes to Take – High School
- Math, science, computing – Getting a broad science and math background regardless if you are going into the sciences or not will provide you with useful skills that transcend any discipline. Taking classes that provide a solid foundation in how to research, write, and present papers are invaluable. Becoming a skilled communicator on paper and in person will always serve you well. Choose electives and outside organizations that will round out your education. If you are certain that astronomy is the field for you, then be prepared to dedicate time to accomplishing your end goal.
Individuals aspiring to be an astronomer must acquire a bachelor’s degree, typically in physics, astronomy, astrophysics or a related field. A bachelor's degree in astronomy includes courses in physics, astronomy, calculus, algebra and statistics. Graduates with an astronomy degree may qualify for positions as technicians or research assistants.
Jobs for Non-Astronomers
- For individuals who like the field of astronomy, but don’t want to be an astronomer – what type of jobs are available? EVERY KIND – there are telescope operator technicians, there are trades (carpenters, electricians, machinists etc.), there are administrators, there are engineers (hydraulic, electrical, structural, computer, etc.), there are educators, and there are grounds keepers and janitors. The list goes on. Most observatories, laboratories, colleges, and universities have employment pages to search through for jobs that may fit your skill set.
- A student may earn a post-graduate degree in astronomy in one of two ways. She may obtain a master’s degree and be qualified to teach astronomy in middle school or high school. She may also qualify for a job in applied research and development in the manufacturing or medical field. A student may also obtain a Ph.D., which increases the eligibility for a basic research position. Earning a Ph.D., which takes from five to seven years, affords the student the greatest chance of finding work. Most universities will only consider hiring candidates who hold this credential. Ph.D. holders may find work with the U.S. government or the private sector in research fields.
- After graduation, most astronomy Ph.D. holders begin their career with a post-doctoral research position at colleges, universities and other institutions, according to the American Astronomical Society. These positions typically last two to three years, according to the bureau. Here he works with experienced scientists to learn the finer aspects of his field. Initially, experienced scientists closely monitor his work, but as he gains deeper understanding, the new scientist conducts his work with less supervision.
- Astronomers must possess skills relating to analytical thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, speaking and writing. Astronomers must solve complex equations, develop working theories, and convey this information verbally and in written reports . He must work with colleagues, who may be working on various aspects of the same project, to cultivate new ideas or make discoveries.
All the Best!!