Astrophysicists typically have doctorates in either astronomy or astrophysics. Their coursework includes nuclear physics, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, atomic physics, statistical mechanics, computer science, galactic astronomy, radiation astrophysics and electromagnetism. Astrophysicists often complete post-graduate fellowships and find an area of specialization.
Aspiring astrophysicists typically obtain bachelor's degrees in astrophysics, but their bachelor's degrees can be in other fields, such as astronomy, physics, mathematics and chemistry. However, a bachelor's degree alone qualifies an astrophysicist to work only as a research assistant or technician. As aspiring astrophysicists work toward their doctorates, they are likely to spend their summers working on research programs and internships to acquire additional training and experience. Astrophysicists should expect to spend six to 10 years in college, depending on whether they also want to obtain a master's degree.
Continuing education is necessary for astrophysicists to stay up-to-date with their constantly changing field. Much of this is obtained through participation in conferences and seminars. Astrophysicists also need solid communication and writing skills to be able to write and present the research papers required in their jobs. Astrophysicists tend to find jobs at scientific research centers at universities or government agencies, but some also work at planetariums and biotechnology companies.