What is the future job outlook for careers in astronomy?

It is very hard to know or even imagine so much can happen. There will be many astronomers retiring from the Baby Boom cohort in the next 20 years. This will make room for the astronomers in the 'Baby Boomlett', but we will never reach a point where everyone that wants to become an astronomer, and makes it through graduate school with a PhD, will be able to find long term employment. Astronomy is just too popular compared to the number of stable 'tenured' jobs available in government labs and academe.

Right now, there are three times more PhD astronomers than there are stable jobs. I see this perhaps shrinking to perhaps two times...but not much lower. This means that young PhDs will always have some hard decisions to make after they have gotten their degree 23 years after Kindergarten! That's a long time to stay in school while your non-astronomy friends are out there making big bucks.

Copyright 1997 Dr. Sten Odenwald

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