Top 21 Jobs for Astronomy Majors (Plus Education Requirements and Average Salaries)
Updated March 10, 2023
Careers in astronomy require advanced knowledge of math and science concepts, and in some cases, specialization in computer programming and engineering. Whether you're currently an astronomy major or you're considering a career in astronomy, you may wonder which jobs are available for you. In this article, we discuss 21 popular jobs available if you have an astronomy degree ranging from lowest to highest earning potential.
Popular jobs for astronomy majors
There are a variety of jobs that astronomy majors might consider upon graduation. Here are some of the most popular jobs with salaries:
National average salary: $30,409 per year
Primary duties: Journalists with a background in science are well-versed in complex topics, understand industry jargon prevalent in academic journals, have excellent writing skills and often have first-hand experience conducting scientific research. Some work as freelancers while others are employed by publishers who produce science-related content. In addition, science journalists often have access to valuable contacts, which enhances the quality of their stories.
Education requirements: Bachelor's degree in a science-related field
Related: Learn About Being a Journalist
National average salary: $34,299 per year
Primary duties: Technical writers have expert-level knowledge regarding specific fields of science and math. Astronomy majors who choose to become technical writers craft complex documents—including research and grant proposals—and work with scientists to publish the latest findings based on research performed in the field.
Education requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college and prior experience with technical writing
Read more: Your Guide to Technical Writing Careers
National average salary: $37,466 per year
Primary duties: Research assistants work as part of a team to collect, analyze and record data related to scientific research. They typically work under the guidance of a senior researcher and assist with a variety of lab duties. Often, they prepare reports and grant proposals to aid in their studies.
Education requirements: Bachelor's degree relevant to a specialty
National average salary: $46,000 per year
Primary duties: Today, aspiring astronomers must possess knowledge of modern coding languages to perform the work required and remain competitive in their field. Programmers write, debug, and test code to analyze many forms of data in the scientific realm, which helps companies and organizations find solutions to their problems.
Education requirements: Associate or Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science, Mathematics or a related subject
Read more: Learn About Being a Computer Programmer
National average salary: $63,826 per year
Primary duties: Science teachers are often remembered for their hands-on class experiments. In addition to experimentation, their primary role is to teach students about scientific concepts through engaging lectures and demonstrations. They work with children in educational settings from elementary school to high school, and sometimes make a guest appearance at local museums where they help the general public learn more about science.
Education requirements: Bachelor's Degree in Science Education and in some cases, a master's degree. A teaching certificate is also required.
Related: Learn About Being a Teacher
National average salary: $75,957 per year
Primary duties: Astronomy majors may become sales managers who work in a variety of environments. Their responsibilities include organizing and leading sales teams who collaborate to achieve sales goals. This role usually involves frequent traveling and time developing client relationships. Sales managers act as mentors to their team members and monitor sales objectives constantly to promote high productivity.
Education requirements: Undergraduate degree in a related field with proven sales experience
National average salary: $76,348 per year
Primary duties: Business analysts help companies find solutions to any challenges they may be facing. They work with stakeholders to identify business needs, assess the impact of change, manage projects and design technical solutions to achieve company goals.
Education requirements: Master's Degree in Computer and Information Science or another business-related field
Read more: Learn About Being a Business Analyst
National average salary: $77,626 per year
Primary duties: Press officers serve as the main media contact for organizations when communicating with journalists and other professionals regarding company initiatives, campaigns and other events. They monitor media coverage and write press releases, as well as schedule interviews with key stakeholders.
Education requirements: Bachelor's Degree in Communications, Political Science or related field
Related: Learn About Being a Publicist
National average salary: $84,462 per year
Primary duties: Associate professors teach students in a higher education setting, such as colleges and universities. They prepare and give lectures based on information in the course syllabus, answer student questions, administer exams and sometimes participate in scientific research with other professionals in their chosen field.
Education requirements: Bachelor's degree in a science-related field, then completion of a doctorate
National average salary: $86,137 per year
Primary duties: Meteorologists study the Earth's atmosphere to forecast weather conditions. They use complex mathematical and physical formulations to analyze their research. The results help government agencies and other organizations make informed decisions that help them achieve their business goals.
Education requirements: Master's Degree in Meteorology or Climatology
National average salary: $87,987 per year
Primary duties: Planetarium directors typically have an extensive background in astronomy. They oversee all aspects of the planetarium and its museum exhibitions. They work with other museum personnel to ensure a high level of enjoyment, safety and educational experience for museum patrons.
Education requirements: A Bachelor's Degree in Astronomy or Physics is preferred, or equivalent educational and professional experience. Many directors have master's and doctorate degrees, though this is not always required for the position.
National average salary: $88,861 per year
Primary duties: Research scientists use critical thinking and technical skills to discover the unknown in various subfields of science. They work alone and alongside other scientists (and lab assistants) to perform scientific research, then present their findings in meetings, lectures and industry publications.
Education requirements: Master's degree in a science-related field, plus the pursuit of a doctorate in some cases
National average salary: $89,547 per year
Primary duties: Electrical engineers develop, design and test a wide range of electrical systems that solve business problems. They use their advanced knowledge of physics and mathematics to successfully manufacture electromagnetic devices and discover new ways to implement electrical power.
Education requirements: Master's degree in Electrical Engineering
National average salary: $94,110 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Primary duties: Climatologists study long-term weather patterns in specific areas of the world. Their studies span many decades and often focus on a 30-year cycle. They often work outside collecting soil samples, though much of their time is spent indoors analyzing data and presenting their research to the community.
Education requirements: Master's Degree in Meteorology or Climatology
National average salary: $98,659 per year
Primary duties: Astronomy majors often have a strong research background when they transition to business-minded professionals. Senior consultants help their clients achieve business development goals, track existing projects and find ways to increase efficiency and promote positive interpersonal relationships in the workplace. Often, consulting firms guide astronomy professionals to government agencies for industry-specific work.
Education requirements: Master's degree or higher in a related field
National average salary: $101,308 per year
Primary duties: Aeronautical engineers design spaceships and satellites, as well as space missions. They have an advanced math and science background, and extensive knowledge regarding space exploration and how rockets interact with the Earth's gravitational pull.
Education requirements: Aspiring aeronautical engineers must earn a bachelor's degree in the matching field or in a relevant field that is either engineering or science-related. Some students begin relevant coursework in high school, which includes advanced math, science and computer courses.
National average salary: $111,090 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Primary duties: Astronomers are scientists who study elements of the universe and perform research to understand how it works. They examine the planets, sun and stars, galaxies and other aspects of the solar system and record their observations. There are several subfields of astronomy which include planetary, solar, stellar, galactic, extragalactic, as well as cosmology.
Education requirements: Master's Degree in Astronomy and in some cases, a doctorate
National average salary: $119,580 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Primary duties: Astrophysicists have extensive knowledge of physics, math and science concepts. They analyze objects in space and form theories about their astronomical relationships. Using advanced mathematical skills, they test these theories and how they relate to the laws of the universe. In addition to research, they must write grants to receive funding for their projects, as well as create presentations and write scientific articles for industry publications.
Education requirements: Bachelor's Degree in Astronomy, Astrophysics or related field and pursuit of relevant graduate degree, or master's degree
19. Data scientist
National average salary: $122,313 per year
Primary duties: Data scientists collect, extract meaning from, and interpret large sets of structured and unstructured data for the organizations they are employed by. Part of their job involves cleaning and validating the data to ensure total uniformity. They present the results of findings to key stakeholders in an effort to pursue new opportunities.
Education requirements: Bachelor's Degree in Data Science, Computer Science or closely related field. Master's degree is often preferred, with experience as a data analyst or network architect.
Read more: Learn About Being a Data Scientist
National average salary: $125,280 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Primary duties: Physicists perform scholarly research in a variety of scientific fields. Astronomy majors who become physicists may work with astronomers and other experts in the industry to test theories that produce new findings. They often work in educational settings and specialize in fields like astrophysics and quantum mechanics.
Education requirements: Master's Degree in Physics or related field
Related: Learn About Being a Physicist
21. Patent attorney
National average salary: $178,889 per year
Primary duties: Patent attorneys represent and assist clients throughout the patent process. They ensure their clients receive the exclusive rights as inventors of the patented products and may file oppositions, if necessary. They communicate with researchers, inventors and other lawyers regarding all issues related to patents.
Education requirements: A Bachelor's Degree in Physics, Biology or Chemistry qualifies students for the Patent Bar Exam, though many pursue additional schooling in order to prepare for the field and licensing exam.
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