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What can a professional astronomer do?

Many professional astronomers have faculty positions at universities and colleges or are affiliated with universities and colleges through observatories and laboratories. In academia, teaching and research are the major areas of activity. Some professional astronomers are employed by the federal government directly (e.g., NASA) or by federally supported national observatories and laboratories (e.g., National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory).  A Ph.D. degree in astronomy or physics is generally required for these positions. There are opportunities while earning your BS to work at these observatories and labs in astronomy and physics Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs. We encourage undergraduates who wish to pursue a Ph.D. degree in astronomy or related fields to double major in both astronomy and physics.

Individuals with M.S. and B.S. degrees in astronomy & astrophysics may also find employment at observatories, planetariums, science museums where they may assist in computational and observational research programs or participate in public education programs. At least one past OSU astronomy major used her training as a stepping stone to a career in science journalism.

The possibilities are wider than you think! There are many opportunities to work in industry after any stage of education. You will have a strong background set of skills that gives you the ability to succeed in software, data science, banking, and even creative endeavors in video games and theme parks. When you finish your degree you will be able to do much more than astronomy and you can use that foundation for the rest of your life.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics offered by The Ohio State University is excellent preparation for graduate study in astronomy and other physical sciences, as well as a solid grounding for becoming a teacher in the physical sciences at the primary and secondary levels.