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Research opportunities for physics/astronomy?

What kind of jobs can I get into after college that will allow me to research astrophysics/astronomy? I don't want to teach, I'd rather research and publish scientific papers. astrophysics science physics research astronomy

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Greg’s Answer

That's kind of the dream for a lot of grad students, but I'm afraid the reality is fairly bleak. The vast majority of astrophysical research takes place in the context of tenure-track academic positions (or in the grad-student and postdoc steps leading up to that), which entails teaching; see my answer here for some thoughts on the difficulties even of that. Research positions without teaching requirements tend to be both less permanent (i.e., "soft money," i.e., you need to self-fund via successful grant proposals) and lower on the totem pole (i.e., under the direction of faculty--for example, research-associate positions). There are also staff members associated with observatories, but my understanding is that their roles are usually technical support (operations), not any kind of original research.

One of the few exceptions is (or was) Tony Tyson at AT&T Bell Labs, but he's the only one I ever heard of, and I rather doubt the position will exist after he retires. AT&T isn't really known for astronomy. ;-)

Great summary of the situation, Greg! Francis O'Donovan

Gregs answer is very informative Folasade Oluwabamiwo

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Chris’s Answer

You can definitely do research without teaching, either after Bachelors or PhD degrees. I've seen students work in labs as assistants after graduation. If you really love the research you can continue your studies in a PhD, and continue thereafter as a postdoctorate under the direction of a Principal Investigator in academia. The pay won't be very high, think around $40k for a postdoc.

I'm not sure what kind of jobs exist outside of academia, perhaps in government and government contractor companies, but there is certainly opportunities outside of academia to do research (which would not be published because of confidentiality) in order to help government/companies develop technology.