• Question: How long does it take to get a job in astronomy

    Asked by Sheldon Cooper to Ryan, Nicolas, Lisa, Leah-Nani, katiesparks, Hannah, Angus, Aisling on 8 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Ryan Cutter

      Ryan Cutter answered on 7 Nov 2018:


      For me, after A-levels I did 4 years at university to get my Masters and then started my PhD (which is another 4 years in the UK).
      One of the cool things about astronomy is that you don’t need super specialised equipment to do it as a hobby; so you can learn a lot of practical skills you need for astronomy in your garden or in a club! Showing that you have interest in your area outside of school is helpful to argue you case when applying for positions as well 🙂

      Great Question,


    • Photo: Hannah Middleton

      Hannah Middleton answered on 12 Nov 2018:

      Hello Sheldon,
      That’s a tough question to answer as I think it depends a lot on the job and also a bit on luck too!
      My job is as a “post-doctoral” researcher and the position is for 3 years. Before this, I did an undergraduate degree which took 4 years and a PhD which took another 4 years. I think that to be an astrophysics researcher, this is a fairly typical path. I’m not too sure what I want to do after this job yet, but if I decide to look for a permanent astrophysics researcher job then that can take some time and people often do several shorter contracts one after the other.
      But a job in astronomy doesn’t have to mean being a researcher, it could be in for example science communication, in space technology / designing or operating telescopes, or even working in a museum. How long it takes really depends on the job – some astronomy jobs you can get into straight after doing a university degree without having to do a PhD.

    • Photo: Nicolas Labrosse

      Nicolas Labrosse answered on 12 Nov 2018:

      Hello Sheldon,
      It’s a good question, and I believe Ryan and Hannah have answered it already nicely. It will depend on what exactly you would like to do. If you are unsure of what type of astronomy job you would like to prepare for, you could take a look at this booklet prepared by the Royal Astronomical Society available from https://ras.ac.uk/node/14325 (the direct link to the booklet is https://ras.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2018-05/Final%20Careers%20Booklet%20high%20res.pdf).
      It’s a fantastic area to work in!
      Best wishes,