What carrier pays more per year, Astrophysics or Astronomy?

I love astronomy and simply considering going into that field. But astrophysics also is in my interest. Yes, i know the difference and like both. So what will decide my future? Money. Which one is economically wiser to chose?

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5 Responses to “What carrier pays more per year, Astrophysics or Astronomy?”

  1. eri said:

    ‘Career’. They’re basically the same thing – very few astronomers can get away without doing a lot of physics these days. The days of observing something and reporting on it without trying to interpret it are past. And neither of them pay well considering how long you’ll be in school – 8-12 years of college, and then most people spend the first 5 years or so after the PhD doing various post-doc positions, which pay about 40k a year. If you can get a faculty job, that starts out between 40k and 70k, but those are hard to get – there are far more PhDs who want to teach than there are jobs for them, and many are teaching making 20k a year without benefits (yes, with a PhD). And NASA doesn’t pay a lot more, if you can get that job – there are even fewer of those. In fact, a lot of astronomers leave the field to make more money elsewhere within 10 years of getting their PhD – they simply can’t get a job in their own field.

  2. GeoffG said:

    They are essentially the same thing — no one makes any distinction between them nowadays. And nobody chooses either because of the big bucks! If you want to make money, become an engineer.

  3. Archuria said:

    astrophysics by a country mile, though a major component of astrophysics is astronomy so you won’t be missing out anyway, astrophysics uses total knowledge of the universe and planets to determine logic and math for our planet for scientific and commercial uses.

  4. Kjun said:

    Astronomists discover stuff. Astrophysicists find out how it works.

    Therefore, the astrophysics section tends to pay more, but it is considerably more difficult work.

    You’ll have to do more fringe science than normal science that tends to drive people to a Doc-Brown-from-back-to-the-future level of insanity. namely my physics teacher from high school.

  5. Erica s said:

    Astronomy is a general term, astrophysics being a specialty. I am a professional astronomer and cosmologist (another specialty), but first and foremost, I am a physicist, and that is my PhD. A lot of my time is spent in teaching astronomy and the remainder in cosmology research. As someone else mentioned, don’t go into it for the money, there is very little, unless you are good enough to write something like A Brief History of Time. We can add slightly to grant money and salary by such things as “talking head” stuff for the Science Chanel etc., but TV companies don’t pay a lot, and most of us are wary of being taken out of context in many cases. TV loves the spectacular, and is liable to overdo such subjects as the end of the world. Do it, like most of us, for the love of the job, and an unshakeable curiosity about the Universe. I would not change a thing!

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