Skip navigation

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

View report: Summary  Details  Custom

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

Tasks

  • Study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Analyze research data to determine its significance, using computers. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Develop theories based on personal observations or on observations and theories of other astronomers. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Collaborate with other astronomers to carry out research projects. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for scientific journals. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Raise funds for scientific research. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Measure radio, infrared, gamma, and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Teach astronomy or astrophysics. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Develop instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Review scientific proposals and research papers. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Serve on professional panels and committees. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Develop and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Calculate orbits and determine sizes, shapes, brightness, and motions of different celestial bodies. See more occupations related to this task.

Find occupations related to multiple tasks

back to top

Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

  • Atomic absorption AA spectrometers — Atomic absorption AA spectroscopes See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Binoculars — High powered binoculars See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Calorimeters — Differential scanning calorimeters See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Cryostats See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Desktop computers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Digital cameras — Wide-field mosaic charge-coupled device CCD cameras See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Digital readout recorders — Baseband recorders See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Infrared spectrometers — Fourier transform infrared FTIR spectrometers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Interferometers — Optical interferometers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Ionization chambers — Electron beam ion traps EBIT See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Laboratory evaporators — Thermal evaporators See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Laboratory mills — Ball mills See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Notebook computers — Laptop computers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Personal computers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Photometers — Tilting filter photometers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Polarizers — Solar telescope filters See more occupations related to this tool.
  • 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 See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Radio antennas See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Radio frequency transmitters or receivers — Planetary radar transmitters See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Scientific calculator — Scientific calculators See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Spectrographs — High resolution spectrographs; Low resolution imaging spectrographs; Multi-object spectrographs MOS See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Spectrometers — Ebert-Fastie spectrometers; Near-infrared imagers and spectrometers NIRI; Pulsar processors; Wideband pulsar processors (see all 7 examples) See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Telescopes — Automated telescopes; Optical telescopes; Very large array VLA telescopes; Very long baseline array VLBA telescopes (see all 14 examples) See more occupations related to this tool.
  • X ray diffraction equipment — X ray diffractometers See more occupations related to this tool.

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) See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Data base user interface and query software — Spectroscopy databases See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Development environment software — Abstraction plus reference plus synthesis A++; Formula translation/translator FORTRAN; Interface definition language IDL; National Instruments LabVIEW See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Graphics or photo imaging software — Avis Fits Viewer *; IRIS * See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Internet browser software — Web browser software See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Object or component oriented development software — C++; Python See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Word processing software — Microsoft Word See more occupations related to this technology.

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

back to top

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. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this knowledge.

back to top

Skills

  • Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Instructing — Teaching others how to do something. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes. See more occupations related to this skill.

back to top

Abilities

  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • 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). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • 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). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Memorization — The ability to remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged. See more occupations related to this ability.

back to top

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. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this 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. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others. See more occupations related to this activity.

back to top

Detailed Work Activities

  • Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Provide technical information or assistance to public. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Direct scientific activities. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Collaborate on research activities with scientists or technical specialists. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Develop theories or models of physical phenomena. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Review professional literature to maintain professional knowledge. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Instruct college students in physical or life sciences. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Develop software or applications for scientific or technical use. See more occupations related to this activity.

Find occupations related to multiple detailed work activities

back to top

Work Context

  • Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 97% responded “More than 40 hours.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 97% responded “A lot of freedom.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 91% responded “A lot of freedom.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 50% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 58% responded “Extremely important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Level of Competition — 42% responded “Extremely competitive.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Spend Time Sitting — 55% responded “More than half the time.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 66% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Telephone — 50% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 42% responded “Very important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Contact With Others — 48% responded “Contact with others most of the time.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Letters and Memos — 34% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Public Speaking — 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 38% responded “Important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Time Pressure — 58% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.” See more occupations related to this work context.

back to top

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)

back to top

Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
61   Post-doctoral training
30   Doctoral degree
9   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

back to top

Credentials

Find Training

back to top

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. See more occupations related to this interest.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this interest.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this interest.

back to top

Work Styles

  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction. See more occupations related to this work style.

back to top

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. See more occupations related to this work value.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy. See more occupations related to this work value.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this work value.

back to top

Related Occupations

back to top

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2014) $50.68 hourly, $105,410 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 2014 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.

back to top

Job Openings on the Web

Find Jobs Job Banks

back to top

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.

back to top