Your Road to Becoming an Astronomer
If you want to become an astronomer, congratulations!
You have decided on a fascinating career path. But your interest and excitement alone will not get you there! It would help if you had the aptitude for it. You will need a solid foundation right from the school level.
Selecting your subjects in school
Astronomy is mostly based on physics, mathematics, and chemistry. So, an aspiring astronomer should have a good aptitude in these subjects.
Astronomy is a science that deals with a lot of extremes. It is about vast galaxies, massive celestial bodies but also deals with microscopic sub-atomic particles. If you find these concepts interesting, you are already on the right path.
In your A level, you will have to choose physics, mathematics, and chemistry. A solid foundation in physical sciences is mandatory for any aspiring astronomer.
At the university level
There are certain specific qualifications you should have for a career in astronomy. Your majors are essential. Once you have chosen an unrelated field, coming back to physics or astronomy will mostly be difficult. So, get into the field only if you are sure about your interest in explorative science.
The good thing about majoring in physics is – you may eventually decide not to become an astronomer. That would not affect you much. Physics majors will still be able to find well-paying jobs in academia, laboratories, and other such places. People with a degree in science are most likely to find well-paid jobs.
The skills you learn are useful for a variety of jobs. So you can safely choose not to get into hard-core astronomy in the future.
To become an astronomer, you need a degree in astronomy or physics. Many universities also combine the two sciences and offer a degree in – astrophysics.
Once you have an in-depth knowledge of physics and astronomy, you will understand how both of them are interrelated. Good knowledge of physics and mathematics will help you in reaching your goal.
Astronomy is a research-oriented field. One needs to have a significant amount of knowledge and experience. Therefore, it is common for astronomers to have multiple degrees. Most of them will go ahead and complete their doctoral studies, as well.
After your first college degree, you will have some clarity on the subject. You may then choose to do a P.hD where you can choose to specialize in one of the fields within astronomy.
After earning your P.hD, you can start looking for jobs in your field. Astronomers work in universities, observatories, government agencies like NASA or ISRO. If you are not able to find employment within your country, you can look beyond the boundaries too.
Keep in mind that astronomy is a challenging field. The process of becoming an astronomer is quite lengthy. One needs to have perseverance. Only if you are determined enough, will you be able to last.
So choose your career path carefully. If you are already sure, we hope this article helped you understand how to become an astronomer.
While studying for this astounding profession, it won’t hurt to watch the night sky occasionally. Visit a website like ExoplanetScience and browse their selection of telescopes and start with stargazing like a real astronomer!