Astronomer

Astronomers use scientific methods to study the origin and make-up of the universe.

Average salary (a year)

£13,000 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 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. Your degree will usually need to be a first or upper second-class.

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), including English, maths and a science
  • 3 A levels, including maths and physics
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

More information

Further information

You'll find more advice on careers in astronomy from the Royal Astronomical Society.

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
  • you will be expected to use a computer confidently as part of this job.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In observational astronomy, your duties might include:

  • collecting data from satellites and spacecraft using radio and optical telescopes
  • developing new instrumentation and maintaining existing equipment
  • developing software to interpret the images captured by satellites
  • analysing data and testing theories

In theoretical astronomy, your duties might include:

  • creating complex computer models to develop theories on the physical processes happening in space
  • analysing the results of past observations to develop new predictions
  • making observations and testing theories
  • analysing data to help develop our understanding of events in the universe

Working environment

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

Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into related careers like aerospace or satellite research and development.

You could also use your skills in systems analysis, software engineering, teaching, scientific journalism or accountancy.

Training 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

Access to Science Level 3

  • Provider: Kensington and Chelsea College
  • Start date: 11 September 2019
  • Location: London

Pre-Access to Science & Nursing

  • Provider: COLLEGE OF WEST ANGLIA
  • Start date: 02 September 2019
  • Location: King's Lynn

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