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What is an Astronomer?

Job Description & Duties Observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.

Life As an Astronomer

  • Study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments.
  • Calculate orbits and determine sizes, shapes, brightness, and motions of different celestial bodies.
  • Analyze research data to determine its significance, using computers.
  • Serve on professional panels and committees.
  • Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources.
  • Develop and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation.

Things an Astronomer Should Know How to Do

These are the skills Astronomers say are the most useful in their careers:

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.

Types of Astronomer Jobs

  • Space Sciences Director
  • Assistant Professor
  • Physics and Astronomy Professor
  • Analytical Sciences Director
  • Institute Scientist

Is There Going to be Demand for Astronomers?

In the United States, there were 2,000 jobs for Astronomer in 2016. 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. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 200 job openings in this field each year.


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.

Average Astronomers Salary

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


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

How much do Astronomers make 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

Tools & Technologies Used by Astronomers

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 to Become an Astronomer

What education is needed to be an Astronomer?


How many years of work experience do I need?


Who Employs Astronomers?


The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.



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

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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