FIGURE 4.13 Number of postdoctoral (red), faculty (green/yellow), and research (blue/cyan) positions advertised from 1992 to 2008. Shading indicates the number of positions in each category at U.S.-based institutions after such data became available in 2003. The faculty category is divided into tenure track (green) and non-tenure track (yellow) positions; the research category is divided into research (blue) and support (cyan) positions. Data from the American Astronomical Society.

FIGURE 4.13 Number of postdoctoral (red), faculty (green/yellow), and research (blue/cyan) positions advertised from 1992 to 2008. Shading indicates the number of positions in each category at U.S.-based institutions after such data became available in 2003. The faculty category is divided into tenure track (green) and non-tenure track (yellow) positions; the research category is divided into research (blue) and support (cyan) positions. Data from the American Astronomical Society.

Although training in astronomy for astronomers is valuable, in practice at least 20 percent of astronomers leave the profession for other careers following the Ph.D., the postdoctoral, and even the faculty/research position level. Careers outside astronomy and astrophysics are available that make use of the technical expertise gained through an astronomy education, and astronomers are demonstrably employable in a large variety of professions, such as computer science, data systems, image processing, detector technology, and medical technology, as well as other physical sciences.

Implications for Employment and Training

Training in astronomy research is good preparation for a wide range of careers. Experience in finding innovative solutions to new problems and familiarity with cutting-edge techniques and tools have very broad appeal to employers, and an



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement