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Career and Education Opportunities for Astronomers in Boston, Massachusetts

For those living in the Boston, Massachusetts area, there are many career and education opportunities for astronomers. 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 $42 per hour or $86,771 per year in Massachusetts, 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: national radio astronomy observatory director, astrophysicist, and space sciences director.

The Boston area is home to 151 schools of higher education, including five within twenty-five miles of Boston where you can get a degree as an astronomer. The most common level of education for astronomers is post-Doctoral training. You can expect to spend at least four or five years studying to be 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 Boston 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

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Cambridge, MA

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a large school located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 10,299 students and an admission rate of 12%. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a master's degree and a doctor's degree program in Planetary Astronomy and Science which graduated zero and two students respectively in 2008.

Wheaton College - Norton, MA

Wheaton College, 26 E Main St, Norton, MA 02766. Wheaton College is a small college located in Norton, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,657 students and an admission rate of 43%. Wheaton College has a bachelor's degree program in Astronomy.

Wellesley College - Wellesley, MA

Wellesley College, 106 Central St, Wellesley, MA 02481-8203. Wellesley College is a small college located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,344 students and an admission rate of 36%. Wellesley College has 2 areas of study related to Astronomer. They are:

  • Astronomy, bachelor's degree which graduated 2 students in 2008.
  • Astrophysics, bachelor's degree which graduated 3 students in 2008.

Harvard University - Cambridge, MA

Harvard University, Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138. Harvard University is a large university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 22,800 students and an admission rate of 8%. Harvard University has 2 areas of study related to Astronomer. They are:

  • Astronomy, master's degree and doctor's degree which graduated eleven and nine students respectively in 2008.
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree which graduated 3 students in 2008.

Boston University - Boston, MA

Boston University, One Silber Way, Boston, MA 02215. Boston University is a large university located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 31,669 students and an admission rate of 59%. Boston University has 2 areas of study related to Astronomer. They are:

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

LOCATION INFORMATION: Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts photo by Ahonc

Boston is situated in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. It has a population of over 609,023, which has grown by 3.4% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Boston, 136, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Boston are valued at $216,200 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, twenty-three new homes were constructed in Boston, down from forty-eight the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Boston are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, educational services, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 29 minutes. More than 35.6% of Boston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 15.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Boston is 8.2%, which is less than Massachusetts's average of 8.4%.

The percentage of Boston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.0%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Brighton Congregational Church, Leslie Lindsay Chapel and Universalist Meeting House are some of the churches located in Boston. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Episcopal Church.

Boston is home to the Metropolitan Water Works Pumping Stations and the Mystic Pier 1 as well as Schoolboy Stadium and Liberty Square. Shopping centers in the area include Legion Shopping Center, Longwood Galleria Shopping Center and Neponset Circle Shopping Center. Visitors to Boston can choose from Federalist Restaurant, Eco-Logical Solutions and Omni Parker Hotel for temporary stays in the area.