How to Become an


The complete career guide to be an Astrophysicist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $110,220
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • Get to Travel
    Career Attribute
  • Green Jobs
    Career Attribute
  • Investigative
    Career Attribute

Astrophysicists, also known as astronomers, research and study cosmic phenomena like celestial objects, planets, stars, black holes and all of outer space in general.  They study the physics of the universe as well as the interaction between the objects that occupy it.

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What is an Astrophysicist?

The following responsibilities are common for Astrophysicists:

  • Calculates orbits to determine a celestial bodies’ size, shape, brightness and possible age
  • Collaborates with other astronomers to execute different research projects
  • Presents research findings to other scientific audiences and writes papers and proposals for scientific journals
  • Develops instruments, telescopes and software for astronomical observation and analysis
  • Measures infrared, gamma, radio and x-ray emissions from sources in outer space

A Day In The Life

Astrophysicists use their comprehensive knowledge in physics and astronomy to study outer space and the components in it.

They use telescopes and other instruments on land to observe different celestial bodies.  They will also gauge and study radio and gamma waves, infrared light and x-ray signals from extraterrestrial sources.  Based on their studies, research and findings, they will propose theories on topics pertaining to how the universe operates.  They then present their data and findings to various scientific communities in conferences and forum discussions.  They also write and publish papers on their research and findings in numerous scientific journals.

While they are not working on their theories or research papers, these individuals must fund raise for additional research or teach at colleges and universities while others direct planetarium observatories.

Typical Work Schedule

This is a full-time position, typically spent in an office or observatory, with varying hours depending on the area of research they are studying and a particular project they may be working on.

Projected Job Growth

This career path is expected to slowly increase in the coming years.  Federal budgets for space exploration are expected to increase over the next few years as well.

Typical Employers

The majority of astrophysicists work for colleges or universities.  While the rest are typically employer by the government doing research and development projects and some also are employed by planetariums.

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How To Become an Astrophysicist

A Bachelor’s degree in astronomy or astrophysics will qualify and individual for most entry-level positions.  In addition to taking classes like physics, calculus, chemistry and must acquire the skills to solve complex mathematical equations. A Master’s degree is required for research assistants and consulting positions.  A doctorate degree in astrophysics is necessary for individuals pursuing work as a teacher or researcher at a college or university or work in any government research positions.

These individuals must posses certain and specific skills for this position.  They must possess a high aptitude for mathematics, superb analytical skills are also required in order to carry out and complete detailed and complex science experiments.  They must also have high competency, logic and reasoning skills for critical thinking while evaluating their work.  Lastly, communications skills, especially in reading, writing and speaking are also vital because they must present their research findings to the scientific community and write grant proposals and also write papers for scientific journals.

Astrophysicist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Astrophysicist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Astrophysicist's can make an average annual salary of $110,220, or $53 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $68,680 or $33 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #47 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Astrophysicist. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Astrophysicists

  • 56.3%   Doctorate
  • 16%   Masters
  • 22.2%   Bachelors
  • 2.2%   Associates
  • 3%   College
  • 0.1%   High School
  • 0.4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Astrophysicist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of --- jobs for a total of 1,900 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a --- change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #594 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Astrophysicists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 600 --- ---
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 500 --- ---
Federal government, excluding postal service 500 -100 ---

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