To become an astronomer, you must complete an undergraduate, graduate and a PhD program in astronomy, physics or a related subject. After obtaining a PhD, aspiring astronomers typically undertake a postdoctoral position, which focuses on research and writing within a specialty topic.
- Earn an undergraduate degree
Enroll in a four-year course in astronomy, astrophysics, physics or a related field. Complete coursework that's attractive to graduate institutions, such as atomic physics, nuclear physics, quantum theory and statistical mechanics. Consider a minor in computer science, as the bulk of astronomy work is done via computer platforms.
- Enroll in a PhD graduate program
Upon successful completion of a bachelor's degree, enroll in an astronomy graduate program, which results in a PhD in your chosen specialty. Generally, the first two years of an astronomy graduate program involves advanced-level coursework. The remaining years consist of research projects under the supervision of working astronomers.
- Secure a postdoctoral position
After obtaining a PhD, most students enroll in a postdoctoral position at a university or private institution. These positions allow freshly graduated students a chance to further their specialty by conducting research and publishing papers. There is no standard time frame for this position.
- Establish professional association membership
Due to the highly competitive nature of this career path, join a professional association, such as the American Astronomical Society, to solidify your credentials. Membership enhances networking, internship and career opportunities.