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All About Astronomers

Astronomer Definition Observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.

Life As an Astronomer

  • Develop instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis.
  • Direct the operations of a planetarium.
  • Develop and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation.
  • Serve on professional panels and committees.
  • Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources.
  • Develop theories based on personal observations or on observations and theories of other astronomers.

What an Astronomer Should Know

Astronomers state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Science: Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Active Learning: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Mathematics: Using mathematics to solve problems.

  • Physics Professor
  • Observatory Director
  • Institute Scientist
  • Associate Professor
  • Assistant Professor

Is There Job Demand for Astronomers?

There were about 2,000 jobs for Astronomer in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 10% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 200 new jobs for Astronomer by 2026. The BLS estimates 200 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Astronomers in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Astronomer are Arizona, Washington, and Texas. Watch out if you plan on working in Hawaii, Maryland, or Texas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Astronomer Average Salary

The typical yearly salary for Astronomers is somewhere between $57,490 and $165,770.

Salary Ranges for Astronomers

Astronomers who work in District of Columbia, California, or Hawaii, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Astronomers in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Arizona $104,100
California $113,130
District of Columbia $123,640
Hawaii $126,170
New Mexico $78,910
Texas $107,350

What Tools do Astronomers Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Astronomers:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Web browser software
  • Python
  • Structured query language SQL
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • SAS
  • Linux
  • IBM SPSS Statistics
  • R
  • National Instruments LabVIEW
  • Apache Hadoop
  • Formula translation/translator FORTRAN
  • Software development tools
  • Interface definition language IDL
  • C++
  • Visual Numerics PV-WAVE

How do I Become an Astronomer?

Learn what Astronomer education requirements there are.

Astronomer Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Astronomer Work Experience

Where Astronomers Work

Astronomer Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Astronomers employed by various industries.

Astronomer Industries


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz. via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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