Are 100% of astronomy majors employed?

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20 Responses to “Are 100% of astronomy majors employed?”

  1. Brainspore says:

    (as Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “There are no street physicists”)

    That explains why you don’t see more people with cardboard signs reading WILL POSTULATE MATHEMATICAL MODELS OF QUANTUM MECHANICS FOR FOOD.

  2. technogeekagain says:

    The astronomy major I know best has gotten a second degree in library science and is working as a research librarian…. but that change happened well before the downturn.

  3. zuben says:

    “Just because they’re employed, doesn’t mean they’re employed as astronomers and astrophysicists.”

    This. I had to get a day job.

  4. Jason Frakes says:

    As an Astronomy major I was told my junior year of college that if you had a PhD you had a 25% chance of getting a job in Astronomy.  So while I am an Astronomy major that is employed, I was also smart enough to not play the 25% odds and went into IT

  5. Jay Kusnetz says:

    Just look at what happened to Brian May. Poor guy didn’t even get to finish his PHD before he had to drop out to get a job in a rock band.

  6. diot says:

    I work with a bunch of astronomers and astrophysicists. We’re writing advertising software for the internet.

  7. daveagp says:

    Someone in DC told me that some universities are able to get alumni to come work back for a week or so (say, orientation or homecoming) and that with careful timing this can improve the appearance of the statistics.

  8. awjt says:

    They’re all at Google Universe™, massaging interstellar data.

  9. MrEricSir says:

    No street physicists? Maybe not, but I’ve seen a street astronomer in San Francisco.  He sets up a telescope on clear nights various places around town, and shows people the moon or planets and requests a tip.

  10. Bill Gawne says:

    A lot of us are employed in fields like aerospace engineering, IT, systems engineering, etc… 

  11. George Herbert says:

    *(cough)* And a lot are employed at various national labs, modeling *other* high-energy phenomena…

  12. Chemjobber says:

    A statistical critique of that study is found here: http://codeandculture.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/useless-majors-or-small-majors/

  13. hypersomniac says:

    50 % of English Majors become Realtors.

  14. I have degrees in physics and astronomy and I am working on a PhD in astronomy. I am so theoretically employable there is no need to run the experiment.

  15. penguinchris says:

    A friend of mine who is really into astronomy instead chose to major in physics, and got a job essentially right out of university.

    I think a more interesting survey would be determining how many people are in situations like that – they love astronomy, but realized (or were convinced by someone) that there was very little chance of a future in it if they majored in it, and decided to pursue something else (with perhaps the idea that maybe they’d go to grad school for astronomy later).

    And as others have noted, there must be a higher percentage of astronomy majors working outside the field than is being reported here. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s wrong to include those in grad school as being employed – because realistically, that’s the only option for a lot of people who study esoteric things (including me, apparently, for studying aspects of geology that have nothing to do with the geology-based industries).

  16. Neuron says:

    Where can you get an undergraduate degree in astronomy and astrophysics? It’s too specialized. You really need a physics degree before you can do much astrophysics.

  17. stand says:

    I use my BS in Astronomy to cast horoscopes! :)

  18. Klaus Æ. Mogensen says:

    I have a bachelor’s degree in Astronomy & Physics. I have been unemployed exactly one month of my life, but necer employed in astronomy or physics. I have been a professional futurist, specializing in technology’s impact, for more than 10 years now.

  19. bklynchris says:

    I asked a buddy with an undergrad in astronomy from MIT about this.  He asked me to, “define employed”.

  20. Ryan Lenethen says:

    Cause and Causality. It could very well be that the universe is causing them to be employed, or is could just be that folks that have an interest in astronomy are brighter on average, likely have more than a bit of science type background, and are more sought after, or more employable. I know I took as many astronomy electives as I could manage in university, and would have taken more, if I could. I don’t own a telescope or anything, so I wouldn’t call it a hobby, as I was always more interested in the theroy than what you might call the “practical” side. I took Compuer Science and Geography to eventually go to collage for GIS. I currently work with GI and IM systems. I was hired the Monday after my final year, and have never been unemployed. Oh and I am not saying that I am brighter or more employable myself :) though it kind of sounds that way! If I have learned anything it is that there are plenty of people out there that know more than I, or are smarter than myself, and that you are not at smart as you sometimes think you might be. In any case 0% is no doubt a statistical FAIL, but I am not surprised that it would be much lower than the “norm”.

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