How to Get a Job Working at an Observatory

By   September 6, 2015

The Primary Observatory Jobs

The majority of the people working at observatories are going to be the astronomers themselves. However, there will also be support positions and technician positions at observatories. There are also community outreach positions and educational positions at many observatories, and plenty of people will try to get these. Observatories are great job environments, and a lot of people understandably want to get jobs there. These people will often have education in similar fields as the astronomers themselves. They just won’t have as much advanced education. Naturally, observatories are also going to hire custodians and receptionists. The custodians and receptionists that work at observatories are going to have a more pleasant work environment compared to a good portion of their peers. Still, education is everything when it comes to working at an observatory.

Working One’s Way Into An Observatory

The majority of people who work at observatories are going to have degrees in astronomy or physics. The astronomers themselves will typically have doctoral degrees in astronomy. Many of the technicians, educators, and support staff members are going to have undergraduate degrees in astronomy or in physics. Some of them may have Master’s degrees. They won’t necessarily be able to leverage their Master’s Degrees into more highly-paid positions, although that could be possible. Their Master’s Degrees may allow them to stand out among the competition.

observatoryHowever, there are plenty of people in the job market that have degrees in physics or astronomy, especially at the undergraduate level. People who have doctorates in astronomy will be limited in terms of their job opportunities. If a given job requires a doctoral degree in astronomy, the people who have Master’s degrees or Bachelor’s degrees shouldn’t even try to compete for them. The astronomers with advanced degrees all around the world will be competing for those jobs, and they will get them. However, when it comes to the lower levels, there are ways to shift the competition in one’s favor.

For one thing, undergraduates ought to try to find a way to get internships at observatories before they complete their degrees or shortly after they complete their degrees. Many of these internships will be unpaid, but they can provide very valuable experience for the people who eventually want to be able to work at observatories. The astronomers themselves will have acquired practical experience over the course of getting their doctorates in the first place. The people who want to act as support staff or community outreach staff should find a way to get their own practical experience. Some of them may get volunteer work opportunities. One way or another, people should make sure that they have experience at observatories before they are even hired.

The Observatory Hierarchy

While astronomers will earn more than the people elsewhere on the observatory hierarchy, they will also have accumulated more debt in many cases. Both groups are going to be working in the same high-tech, clean, stable working environment. An undergraduate degree and an internship can make all the difference for the people who are trying to get there.

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