Summary Report for:
19-2011.00 - Astronomers
Observe, research, and interpret astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge or apply such information to practical problems.
Sample of reported job titles: Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Astronomer, Astronomy Professor, Astrophysicist, Lunar and Planetary Institute Director, Physics and Astronomy Professor, Professor, Research Scientist, Scientist
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments.
- Analyze research data to determine its significance, using computers.
- Develop theories based on personal observations or on observations and theories of other astronomers.
- Collaborate with other astronomers to carry out research projects.
- Present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for scientific journals.
- Raise funds for scientific research.
- Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources.
- Teach astronomy or astrophysics.
- Develop instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis.
- Review scientific proposals and research papers.
- Serve on professional panels and committees.
- Develop and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation.
- Calculate orbits and determine sizes, shapes, brightness, and motions of different celestial bodies.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Atomic absorption AA spectrometers — Atomic absorption AA spectroscopes
- Binoculars — High powered binoculars
- Calorimeters — Differential scanning calorimeters
- Desktop computers
- Digital cameras — Wide-field mosaic charge-coupled device CCD cameras
- Digital readout recorders — Baseband recorders
- Infrared spectrometers — Fourier transform infrared FTIR spectrometers
- Interferometers — Optical interferometers
- Ionization chambers — Electron beam ion traps EBIT
- Laboratory evaporators — Thermal evaporators
- Laboratory mills — Ball mills
- Notebook computers — Laptop computers
- Personal computers
- Photometers — Tilting filter photometers
- Polarizers — Solar telescope filters
- Radarbased surveillance systems — Doppler Rayleigh laser imaging ranging and detecting LIDAR systems; Laser imaging detection and ranging LIDAR systems; Resonance fluorescence laser imaging detection and ranging LIDAR systems
- Radio antennas
- Radio frequency transmitters or receivers — Planetary radar transmitters
- Scientific calculator — Scientific calculators
- Spectrographs — High resolution spectrographs; Low resolution imaging spectrographs; Multi-object spectrographs MOS
- Spectrometers — Ebert-Fastie spectrometers; Near-infrared imagers and spectrometers NIRI; Pulsar processors; Wideband pulsar processors (see all 7 examples)
- Telescopes — Automated telescopes; Optical telescopes; Very large array VLA telescopes; Very long baseline array VLBA telescopes (see all 14 examples)
- X ray diffraction equipment — X ray diffractometers
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — Adaptive optics AO simulation software; Software Bisque CCDSoft; Starcal; Visual Numerics PV-WAVE (see all 13 examples)
- Data base user interface and query software — Spectroscopy databases
- Development environment software — Abstraction plus reference plus synthesis A++; Formula translation/translator FORTRAN; Interface definition language IDL; National Instruments LabVIEW
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Avis Fits Viewer; IRIS
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Object or component oriented development software — C++; Python
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
- Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- 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.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Memorization — The ability to remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
Detailed Work Activities
- Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
- Provide technical information or assistance to public.
- Direct scientific activities.
- Collaborate on research activities with scientists or technical specialists.
- Develop theories or models of physical phenomena.
- Review professional literature to maintain professional knowledge.
- Instruct college students in physical or life sciences.
- Develop software or applications for scientific or technical use.
- Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 97% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 97% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 91% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 50% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 58% responded “Extremely important.”
- Level of Competition — 42% responded “Extremely competitive.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 55% responded “More than half the time.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 66% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 50% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 42% responded “Very important.”
- Contact With Others — 48% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Letters and Memos — 34% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Public Speaking — 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 38% responded “Important.”
- Time Pressure — 58% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
|Title||Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).|
|Related Experience||Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.|
|Job Training||Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, sports medicine physicians, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and controllers.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: IAR
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2014)||$50.68 hourly, $105,410 annual|
|Employment (2014)||2,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Slower than average (2% to 4%)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||400|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Physicists and astronomers . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.