Obtaining an astronomy degree requires a great deal of schooling. Since astronomy is a science that relies heavily upon math, excellence in mathematics and science is necessary. Many students wishing to become astronomers begin reaching science and math goals as early as high school. During high school years, basic high school calculus should be mastered, along with basic science courses.
At the college or university level, students seeking an astronomy degree should either obtain a bachelor of science in astronomy degree, or a bachelor of arts degree. Whole most future astronomers tend to obtain a bachelor of science degree, some bachelors of arts students may also be admitted to astronomy programs at the graduate level.
While education is important, research may be more important. Following college or university, prospective astronomers should find a way to gain field experience. This experience can be obtained by internships, working on data analysis, finding computer programming jobs, or seeking instrument building positions.
National astronomy observatories often offer internships to recent graduates, and these opportunities should not be overlooked. Astronomy graduates must also attend graduate school where further astronomy-related courses are taught. Once a doctoral astronomy degree has been obtained, astronomers can look for jobs in all kinds of places.
Most astronomers accept positions at academic institutions. Becoming an astronomy teacher allows astronomers to research, learn, and teach what they have learned to eager students. Other places to look for astronomy positions include observatories, government, and laboratories. While finding high-paid astronomy jobs may be difficult, astronomers are highly sought-after for a number of other reasons.
Many research facilities often employ astronomers as management consultants. Consultants with science backgrounds are useful when it comes to technical data, and complex research projects. Opportunities within the management consultant field are scarce, though they are often available for those that excel within their field.
The key to obtaining a well-paid astronomy position is through research. Astronomers that make a point of publishing sound research tend to gain a lot of attention within the astronomy field. By building a solid reputation, some astronomers manage to make themselves invaluable to various types of employers.
Skill-wise, astronomers must have excellent math and physics skills. Also, astronomers should have strong computer programming skills. Computers are widely used within the astronomy field, which is why computer courses are necessary in order to obtain an astronomy degree. Lastly, astronomers must also have superb writing skills, since a large portion of time will be spent drafting grant proposals.