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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: Professor, Astronomer, Astronomy Professor, Research Scientist, Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy Professor, Scientist, Assistant Professor, Astrophysicist, Lunar and Planetary Institute Director

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Related Occupations  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

  • 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.

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

Calorimeters — Differential scanning calorimeters
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
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
Telescopes — Automated telescopes; Optical telescopes; Very large array VLA telescopes; Very long baseline array VLBA telescopes

Technology used in this occupation:

Analytical or scientific software — Adaptive optics AO simulation software; Software Bisque CCDSoft; Starcal *; Visual Numerics PV-WAVE
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 *
Object or component oriented development software — C++; Python
Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel

* Software developed by a government agency and/or distributed as freeware or shareware.

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Knowledge

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.

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Skills

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.

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Abilities

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.

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Work Activities

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.

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Work Context

Electronic Mail — How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
Duration of Typical Work Week — Number of hours typically worked in one week.
Freedom to Make Decisions — How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
Structured versus Unstructured Work — To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
Face-to-Face Discussions — How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
Level of Competition — To what extent does this job require the worker to compete or to be aware of competitive pressures?
Spend Time Sitting — How much does this job require sitting?
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
Telephone — How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

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Job Zone

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)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
61   Post-doctoral training
30   Doctoral degree
  Master's degree

This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:

Physics/Astronomy — Astronomy and Astrophysics; Astrophysics; Planetary Astronomy and Science

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Credentials

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Interests

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.

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Work Styles

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.

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Work Values

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.

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2013) $53.10 hourly, $110,450 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2012) 3,000 employees
Projected growth (2012-2022) Average (8% to 14%) Average (8% to 14%)
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 900
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2012)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 wage data external site and 2012-2022 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

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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 external site. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

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