Careers

If you are interested in space, there are lots of different careers out there. One of them will be right for you. You could be an astronaut! You could explain orbits to primary school children! You could use satellites to study climate change on Earth!

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What are you interested in?

In this section we’ve highlighted different interests you may have and the space careers that could be a good fit. Most jobs in space involve having a background in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM), but there are many paths into these careers.

Of course, if you choose not to follow a career in this area, that doesn’t mean that you can’t stay involved. Amateur astronomers look at space as a hobby rather than a career. Many discoveries from amateur astronomers lead to the expansion of our knowledge of the cosmos. If you’d like to see what you can do to get more involved, we’ve got a few suggestions for you!

Your career path

Although there are many ways to end up with a career in astronomy or space, most people follow a common path.

Astronomy is about the physics of the Universe - the way stars and galaxies work. It is an unusual science because it deals with extremes. From massive galaxies to tiny atoms. Temperatures ranging from millions of degrees in the centre of a star to 3 degrees above absolute zero in the vacuum of space. So, astronomers need to understand lots of different bits of science.

Therefore, at school it is important to get good qualifications in physics and maths, it could also be useful to know some chemistry.

You usually need a degree in either astronomy or physics to become an astronomer. Since astronomy contains a lot of physics, many universities now offer degrees in astrophysics, which combine both. 

As astronomers do research, they need to have a lot of knowledge and experience. Most will have two or more degrees; as well as your first, "normal" degree, you would then go on to get a Doctorate or PhD. This is where you begin to do research of your own and specialise in a certain area of astronomy.

Once you have your PhD, you can then look around for a job as a professional astronomer. Astronomers work in all sorts of places including universities, observatories and space-agencies. Astronomy is popular all over the world. Most astronomy groups are made up of people from many different countries and backgrounds.


Learn about some of our career heroes:

Name Nationality Research Areas

Colombian

Meteorite Craters, Planets, Moons

Irish

History of Astronomy, Biographies, Spectroscopy

British

Mathematician and Computer Scientist

British

Materials Science, Satellites

British

History of Science, History of Astronomy, Broadcasting

British

Radio-Astronomy, Artificial Intelligence

Irish-British

The Sun, Sunspots, Magnetic Storms

American

Archaeoastronomy, Ancient Astronomy in the Americas, Mayans

British

Education, Skills, Human Spaceflight, Exploration Science

American

Astrobiology, Exoplanets

American

Solar Physics, Rockets

British-New Zealander

Galaxies Evolution, Cosmology

American

Black Holes, Elliptical Galaxies, X-ray Emission, Data Archives

American

Extraterrestrial Life, Planetary Science

Mexican-British

Supercomputer Simulations, Galaxy Formation

American

Space Exploration, New Technology

Canadian-American

Jupiter’s Moons, Comets

American

Computer Programming

Chinese

Meteorite impacts

Dutch

Astronomer & Planetary Scientist

Chinese

Imaging and Sensing, Conservation, Science and Art

Emirati

Aviation

American

Earth’s Upper Atmosphere

American

History, Cultural Studies of Astronomy, African Indigenous Astronomy

British

Radio-Astronomy, Pulsars

American

Space Flight, Politics

American

Exoplanets

British

Weather Forecasting, Tropical Climates

Japanese

Engineering, Planetary Exploration

German

Relativity, Black Holes, Quantum Theory, Stars, Comets

American

Rocket Flightpaths, Trajectories, Orbital Mechanics

South African

Nuclear Physics, Astronomy, Sustainable Development

American

Chemical Engineering, Medicine

British

Mechanical Engineering, Satellites

American

Aerospace Engineering, Aerodynamics

Japanese

Neutrinos, Detectors, Particle Physics, Cosmic Rays

Burmese-American

Deep Space Exploration

British-American

Astronaut, Meteorologist

Italian

Mechanical Engineering, Aviation, Aeronautics

Nigerian-British

Radio Astronomy, Galaxies, Crab Nebula

Mexican

Nebulae & Star Birth

British

Cosmology, Theoretical Physics

Indian-American

Stellar Evolution, Black Holes

South African

Extragalactic X-ray Binaries, Radio Astronomy

British

Electrical Engineering, Renewable Energy, Public Engagement

British

Flight Dynamics, Aviation

American

Meteorites, Moon Rocks

Russian

Medicine, Spaceflight

Puerto Rican

Sonification, Black Holes

German

Astronomy, Radiation


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