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Career and Education Opportunities for Astronomers in Santa Clara, California

If you want to be an astronomer, the Santa Clara, California area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. The national trend for astronomers sees this job pool growing by about 16.0% over the next eight years. Astronomers generally observe, research, and interpret celestial and astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge and apply such information to practical problems.

The average wage in the general category of Physical Sciences jobs is $40 per hour or $82,624 per year in California, and an average of $38 per hour or $78,733 per year nationwide. People working as astronomers can fill a number of jobs, such as: astronomy professor, lunar and planetary institute director, and astronomy department chair.

The Santa Clara area is home to thirty-five schools of higher education, including three within twenty-five miles of Santa Clara where you can get a degree as an astronomer. Given that the most common education level for astronomers is post-Doctoral training, you can expect to spend at least four or five years training to become an astronomer if you already have a Bachelor's degree, or at least eight to ten years starting with a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Astronomer

Astronomer video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, astronomers observe, research, and interpret celestial and astronomical phenomena to increase basic knowledge and apply such information to practical problems.

Astronomers study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments. They also collaborate with other astronomers to carry out research projects. Equally important, astronomers have to raise funds for scientific research. They are often called upon to design theories on the basis of personal observations or on observations and theories of other astronomers. They are expected to present research findings at scientific conferences and in papers written for scientific journals. Finally, astronomers design and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation.

Every day, astronomers are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to read and understand documents and reports. It is also important that they write clearly and communicate well.

It is important for astronomers to calculate orbits and decide on sizes, shapes and motions of different celestial bodies. They are often called upon to direct the operations of a planetarium. They also design and modify astronomy-related programs for public presentation. Somewhat less frequently, astronomers are also expected to direct the operations of a planetarium.

Astronomers sometimes are asked to teach astronomy or astrophysics. and measure radio and x-ray emissions from extraterrestrial sources. And finally, they sometimes have to study celestial phenomena, using a variety of ground-based and space-borne telescopes and scientific instruments.

Like many other jobs, astronomers must be able to absorb the factors involved and a problem and provide a well thought out solution and have an achievement oriented outlook with an eye towards personal and professional growth.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Santa Clara include:

  • Atmospheric Scientist. Investigate atmospheric phenomena and interpret meteorological data gathered by surface and air stations, satellites, and radar to prepare reports and forecasts for public and other uses.
  • Chemist. Conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or chemical experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge.
  • Environmental Health and Safety Specialist. Conduct research or perform investigation for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or the health of the population. Utilizing knowledge of various scientific disciplines may collect, synthesize, and take action based on data derived from measurements or observations of air, food, and other sources.
  • Geological Specialist. Study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the earth. May use geological, physics, and mathematics knowledge in exploration for oil, gas, or underground water; or in waste disposal, land reclamation, or other environmental problems. May study the earth's internal composition, atmospheres, and its magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces. Includes mineralogists, crystallographers, and seismologists.
  • Hydrologist. Research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters; study the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, movement through the earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Astronomer Training

University of California-Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

University of California-Santa Cruz, 1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064. University of California-Santa Cruz is a large university located in Santa Cruz, California. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 18,508 students and an admission rate of 81%. University of California-Santa Cruz has 2 areas of study related to Astronomer. They are:

  • Astronomy, master's degree and doctor's degree which graduated three and two students respectively in 2008.
  • Astrophysics, bachelor's degree which graduated 18 students in 2008.

Ohlone College - Fremont, CA

Ohlone College, 43600 Mission Blvd, Fremont, CA 94539-0390. Ohlone College is a large college located in Fremont, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 11,083 students. Ohlone College has a less than one year and a two to four year program in Astronomy which graduated two and zero students respectively in 2008.

Cabrillo College - Aptos, CA

Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA 95003. Cabrillo College is a large college located in Aptos, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,822 students. Cabrillo College has an associate's degree program in Astronomy.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Santa Clara, California

Santa Clara, California
Santa Clara, California photo by Coolcaesar

Santa Clara is located in Santa Clara County, California. It has a population of over 110,200, which has grown by 7.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Santa Clara, 158, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Santa Clara cost $196,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, forty-three new homes were constructed in Santa Clara, down from eighty-five the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Santa Clara are computer and electronic products, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is computer and electronic products, professional, scientific, and technical services, and construction. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 42.4% of Santa Clara residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 16.6%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Santa Clara is 10.9%, which is less than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Santa Clara residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 43.2%, is less than both the national and state average. Peace Lutheran Church, Good News Community Church and Universal Church of the Master are some of the churches located in Santa Clara. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Muslim Estimate.

Santa Clara is home to the Santa Clara Unified School District Office and the Santa Clara Municipal Golf Course as well as Westwood Acres Park and Washington Park. Shopping centers in the area include Moonlite Shopping Center, Fairway Glen Shopping Center and Youth Shopping Center.