Jump to content

sgl_imaging_challenge_2021_annual.thumb.jpg.3fc34f695a81b16210333189a3162ac7.jpg

Astronomy jobs?


Recommended Posts

I was wondering what kind of jobs there were in the astronomy world, that didn’t require a PhD..

I’m a newly graduated student in physics with space science, who got their first telescope a few months back and since started to actively involve myself in the stargazing hobby and community, and I’ve loved every minute of it! However I’m now at the daunting position of being thrown out into the world of work, and I’m hoping I can find something that involves this amazing subject.

My problem is most jobs that utilise my degree require a higher level of qualification; masters, PhD etc.. something that I am not yet prepared to do. So I’m turning to you good people who have been in this community far longer than I, for any possible ideas. 

The one that springs to my mind first is a telescope store, though I fear I don’t have enough knowledge or experience of telescope equipment to be a sales advisor in such a shop (though I am a fast learner!). The second idea, which I’d love to do, would be astronomy journalism, but again I imagine a journalism qualification is required. 

Are there any other astronomy related jobs out there that people can think of, that might be possible for me to apply for? 

Many thanks! 
Ben

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Ben.

I hate to sound negative, but having been in the astronomical business I have become aware that it's almost impossible to jump into any astronomy related jobs, they all seem to require either very high academic qualifications or significant experience or even both.  Those with good PhD's find it hard enough to break into the subject professionally and those that are fortunate enough to do so will tell you that it's not all swanning about in famous observatories using exotic equipment.  More often, still stuck in the UK "number crunching" on fairly narrow subject data.

I would give more thought to other scientific orientated occupations that may have better openings, ones that may give you more time to indulge your current astronomical interest whilst gaining experience for the future.  Best of luck with whatever you do.    😀

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

A tricky one for sure.  Just on the astronomy journalism thing, I do not think a qualification in journalism is a necessity.  In fact I read so much inaccurate nonsense from "science" journalists who don't have a qualification in the relevant subject, that I would argue at least, that the background in science is what should be valued. If you are able to source some work in this space, be aware that almost certainly will be freelance, paid per article, and the compensation is not high.  I have written some equipment reviews for Astronomy Now and for 2,000 words and 4-6 photos, it might be £300-350 in pay.  I write because I enjoy it, not because of the money.

 

As for other jobs, I know someone who did get a job at the Royal Observatory Greenwich holding a BSc in Physics + Astronomy, as a public engagement astronomer so a higher degree is not always needed.  I am not sure how many other venues around the country may also have such positions.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, Peter Drew said:

Hello Ben.

I hate to sound negative, but having been in the astronomical business I have become aware that it's almost impossible to jump into any astronomy related jobs, they all seem to require either very high academic qualifications or significant experience or even both.  Those with good PhD's find it hard enough to break into the subject professionally and those that are fortunate enough to do so will tell you that it's not all swanning about in famous observatories using exotic equipment.  More often, still stuck in the UK "number crunching" on fairly narrow subject data.

I would give more thought to other scientific orientated occupations that may have better openings, ones that may give you more time to indulge your current astronomical interest whilst gaining experience for the future.  Best of luck with whatever you do.    😀

 

 

Don’t worry you haven’t disappointed, as it was what I was expecting! From the searching I’ve done there really are very few opportunities for someone with just a BSc in this field. I figured I would give this website a shot as you never know... 

I will have a think about what kind of jobs could offer what you suggested. Thanks very much!

Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, DirkSteele said:

A tricky one for sure.  Just on the astronomy journalism thing, I do not think a qualification in journalism is a necessity.  In fact I read so much inaccurate nonsense from "science" journalists who don't have a qualification in the relevant subject, that I would argue at least, that the background in science is what should be valued. If you are able to source some work in this space, be aware that almost certainly will be freelance, paid per article, and the compensation is not high.  I have written some equipment reviews for Astronomy Now and for 2,000 words and 4-6 photos, it might be £300-350 in pay.  I write because I enjoy it, not because of the money.

 

As for other jobs, I know someone who did get a job at the Royal Observatory Greenwich holding a BSc in Physics + Astronomy, as a public engagement astronomer so a higher degree is not always needed.  I am not sure how many other venues around the country may also have such positions.

I have read that astronomy journalism is a bit of a dying breed with reducing success. Not sure why that is the case. I thought it to be quite a dream job if the money was there but doesn’t seem to be the case. 

I will take a look at public engagement astronomers to see if anything is available. I do live quite close to Jodrell Bank so something there might be possible. I’ve also thought about outreach but I thought that was more voluntary work?

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is professional astronomy, in which a PhD is the first baby step, and amateur astronomy done for a living (which is what I do) and then there's retail in which the key skills are retail skills aligned with product knowledge. As DirkeSteele says, I don't think a specific journalism qualification is needed to become an astronomy writer. I've been employed to write a dozen or so articles without one but, more significantly, my late friend Alan Longstaff made a living out of astronomical journalism. As far as I know he had never studied journalism. But... he had a first degree in biology, a PhD in neuroscience, a hefty qualification in maths and another first class degree in astronomy. In short he was a heavyweight scientist with the kind of authoritative grasp that made him attractive to publishers.

Olly

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ben it may be worthwhile searching the UK ATC vacancy listings; similarly some universities recruit into non Phd/research positions in their Physics/Astronomy departments (St Andrews University being one I know  to do so).    Did your university or at least university department not offer career events ?  Most university departments have industrial contacts and offer career events which are generally a good starting point. 

https://www.technologysi.stfc.ac.uk/Pages/United-Kingdom-Astronomy-Technology-Centre.aspx

Jim 

Edited by saac
Link to post
Share on other sites

If astro journalism is of interest to you, you might want to consider starting a blog, vlog or YouTube channel. If you're good at it and engage your audience, you'll quickly build a following and can easily monetise your platform. It might not pay the bills but could add a little pocket money and get you started in the direction you are interested in.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Science communication could be an option for you. I did a degree in astronomy but found that sharing my passion with others was more fun than research! I've worked on loads of interesting projects, spent 10 years running the planetarium in Bristol, and now do astronomy writing as a freelancer, mostly for ESA. So it is possible to make a career out of it, although it's a competitive field -- and Covid is really hammering the sector, with science centres slashing budgets and making redundancies :(

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Wow thank you everyone for the advice! Not had much success since but I will continue to look out for opportunities.. sadly the weather has been so bad for me the last few weeks I’ve not even been able to get my scope out and enjoy the hobby either. Autumn weather is terrible where I live :( 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.