Astrophysics is a branch of astronomy that uses laws of physics and chemistry to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. The main goal in the study of astrophysics is to discover how the universe works, how it all began, and is there life on the planets around the other stars. Today’s topic- Is Astrophysics a Good Career?
CAREERS IN ASTROPHYSICS
If you have done your major in astrophysics then you can become a scientist or researcher or lecturer in the field. The majority admire becoming an astrophysicist. If you want to teach the subject, you can become a lecturer, but you can become a researcher or a scientist if you aspire to do research work.
An astrophysicist acts as a researcher, they analyze and evaluate the celestial bodies and phenomena. If you wish to become an astrophysicist you should be aware of their duties, these are listed below:
- Building theories and testing those theories using research techniques.
- Perform scientific experiments to explore the universe.
- Knowing all the recent developments in your field.
- Providing your contribution to your field.
- Developing programs and figuring out ways to assist research.
If you wish to pursue a career in astrophysics, you have to at least have a master’s degree; most employers and research roles prefer a doctoral degree.
- Bachelors Degree
It is the first step in this career path and you should take coursework in maths or science which will prepare you for further studies. You can take up internships and fieldwork experiences that will benefit you in your career.
You can pursue your bachelor’s degree in astrophysics or the following subjects:
- Astrophysics and Astronomy
- Earth Sciences
- Physics and Maths
- Computer Sciences
- Liberal Arts
There are plenty of great colleges offering these subjects. If you wish to pursue a career in astrophysics, you can plan accordingly during high school and apply to your desired program.
- Masters Degree and PhD
You will have to opt for a major in astrophysics, good grades provide good opportunities further. You should do as many internships to gain experience in the field you desire to work in, in the future. You can either go for the master’s program and then pursue Ph.D., or you can go for an integrated program combining both.
After completing your doctoral program you have to build an impressive resume or a cover letter to send out for job applications. You will have to build an impressive resume, highlight all your experiences and achievements, provide all the necessary details and briefly describe your experiences and position of responsibilities.
The next step is to apply for the astrophysicist position in places you want to work. Apply to all your desired research workplaces and prepare for the interview. If you want to teach in a school or college you can apply in those respective places. You can also work in a government office which suits your education and interests.
American Astronomical Society
It is an organization of all the people working in the field of astronomy. You can join it to build up connections with fellow professionals in their field.
The average salary is around $76,000 per year. Some salaries may also range from $14,000 – $150,000 per year. Your salary will vary according to your role and the organization you are working in. During the beginning of your career, your salary will be comparatively lower, with passing years and gained experience you will progress and the salary will also improve. If you choose to teach, your salary will depend on whether you are working in a school or a college and that may vary according to where you work.
It is beneficial if you possess certain skill sets other than good grades for you to succeed in your career as an astrophysicist, some of these are listed below:
- Problem-Solving – During research work, there will be plenty of problems, a positive approach and problem-solving approach are helpful to handle those situations.
- Analytical – As an astrophysicist you work on various research projects and being analytical helps you tackle any problems and observe large sets of data, it is also helpful in gathering and enlisting various data.
- Mathematics – Mathematics is a necessary subject when you want to pursue a career in astrophysics. Physics is applied mathematics, during research work there is the usage of the subject in various aspects. Thus if you want to be an astrophysicist or teach astrophysics you have to opt for mathematics as it’s used in theories and research.
- Teamwork – During research work, you have to interact with a team of fellow researchers and also report data of your research so that other professionals in your field can have access to that information.
You will also be working with various technical equipment and computers which will require a good knowledge of those and analytical skills. With previous internship experiences, you can make it a little easier for yourself in the later stages in these aspects.
As a student of astrophysics you can diverge into the following field of work:
- Higher Education
- Research Lab
- Aerospace Industry
- Government Facilities
If you don’t want to pursue higher studies and want to work straight after your bachelor’s or master’s degree then you can go work for technical positions in technology-based companies like Microsoft, Google, oracle, apple, and many more. You can also work as a data analyst because you develop analytical skills during your course.
Other Areas of Work
If you don’t wish to work as a researcher after completion of your higher studies then you can go for the following profiles to work in:
- Atmospheric Scientist
- Plasma Physicist
- Mechanical or Aerospace Engineer
- Technical Writer
- Public Relations
- Data Analyst
- High School Teacher
In astrophysics, you acquire knowledge of various subjects like statistics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer programming, and plenty of other management skills. This can help you go for various job opportunities apart from research and development.
Astrophysics is a vast field, your options are not limited. After your education is completed you can work in various organizations in various roles. Most people opt for research-related roles, they start working as research assistants after masters for gaining experience. You also have to complete at least one fellowship after completing your doctoral degree, as most of the research facilities prefer people with fellowship experience for permanent faculty positions.
If you are curious about astronomical studies, this field is perfect for you. Some of these options are teaching, working as a physicist, data analyst, you can go in management and technical writing. Depending on your interests you can go into a specified field within the profession. You will have to report your findings and observations to others and keep yourself updated with the latest information.
Whether a career option is good for you or not is only dependent on your interests, if you love the subject and are passionate about working in the field then you can succeed in the field of astrophysics. You will be devoting a large amount of time studying and it is a long way to reach your goal but patience is the key in the field of research.
- What skills are essential to succeed in this field?
Good knowledge of physics and maths is essential to succeed in this field, apart from this a fair knowledge of computer programming is also necessary.
- What does a typical day look like for an astrophysicist?
They usually spend their time in research-related work and this includes analyzing and interpreting data and also working with research teams on various projects.
- What are some benefits of being an astrophysicist?
An astrophysicist is a regular paid employee and thus has benefits like sick leaves, paid vacations, medical insurance, and pension plans.
- Does astrophysics require a lot of maths?
Astrophysics is based on highly mathematical physics. Thus, it is important to have a good knowledge of mathematics to succeed in your career in astrophysics.
- Where do astrophysicists work?
Astrophysicists work at government departments like NASA and the department of defense. Some work at private research agencies to teach at universities.