Astronomer

Alternative titles for this job include Astrophysicist

Astronomers study the origin and structure of the universe, including its planets, stars, galaxies and black holes.

Average salary (a year)

£15,609 Starter

to

£60,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 irregular

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become an astronomer

You can get into this job through a university course.

University

You'll need a degree and postgraduate qualification to work as an astronomer. You'll usually need to have achieved a first or a 2:1 in your degree.

Relevant subjects include:

  • maths
  • physics
  • astrophysics
  • geophysics
  • astronomy
  • space science

You can also do an extended 4-year degree to get a postgraduate qualification like a master of physics. These courses include more independent research and can lead directly onto a PhD.

Many employers will expect you to have completed, or be working towards, a PhD in your specialist area of interest.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths and physics
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information

More Information

Career tips

Join an amateur astronomy group to share your interest, develop connections and get observation experience.

Look out for summer schools like Space School UK.

Further information

You can find more advice on careers in astronomy from the Royal Astronomical Society and SpaceCareers.uk.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of physics
  • analytical thinking skills
  • science skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • concentration skills
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day to day duties will depend on your area of expertise.

In observational astronomy, you could:

  • collect and analyse data from satellites and spacecraft
  • explore space using radio and optical telescopes
  • design new instruments and maintain existing equipment
  • develop software to interpret images and data captured by satellites

In theoretical astronomy, you could:

  • create computer models to test theories about space activities
  • analyse the results of past observations to make new predictions
  • make observations and develop theories
  • analyse data to help build our understanding of events in the universe

Working environment

You could work in an observatory, in a laboratory, at a university or visit sites.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and you may spend nights away from home.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You'll usually start as a post-doctoral researcher before moving on to permanent posts that can lead to becoming a professor.

You can transfer your science skills across lots of careers and sectors, for example:

  • aerospace research and development
  • satellite research and development
  • systems analysis
  • software engineering
  • teaching and lecturing
  • science communication
  • finance

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for an astronomer right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Physics

  • Provider: THE MINSTER SCHOOL
  • Start date: 07 September 2023
  • Location: Southwell

Physics

  • Provider: ST MARGARET WARD CATHOLIC ACADEMY
  • Start date: 01 September 2023
  • Location: Stoke-On-Trent

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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