Education and Training Requirements
Are you signed up for freshman year earth science? This and related courses will provide you with a solid foundation for your future career. Other classes to consider are biology, chemistry, computer science, physics, geology, botany, and mathematics. Also consider nonscience courses such as speech, and English, or any classes that can sharpen your communication skills. What's the point of knowing everything there is to know about algae or hydrothermal springs if you can't convey your ideas to others?
Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary science, and as such, scientists, researchers, and educators working in this field come from a variety of educational backgrounds, with undergraduate degrees ranging from biology to chemistry to astronomy. Some astrobiologists, especially those doing laboratory work, may find employment with a bachelor's degree. However, the majority of top researchers, and certainly those teaching at universities, have earned or are in the process of completing their Ph.D.'s. A small number of universities—such as the University of Washington (https://depts.washington.edu/astrobio/wordpress/), Arizona State University (http://astrobiology.asu.edu/Astrobiology/Home/Home.html), and the University of Colorado (http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/life/) offer graduate programs or course work in astrobiology or related fields. Also, annual conferences for astrobiology graduate students, such as the one held by Arizona State University, can provide information on new programs starting at other universities.
Other Education or Training
Workshops, conferences, webinars, online courses, symposia, and other continuing education opportunities are provided by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, American Society for Microbiology, and the American Physiological Society (including its Professional Skills Training Program, which promotes the development of important professional skills among minority graduate and postdoctoral students). Contact these organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
There are no certification or licensing requirements for astrobiologists.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Aspiring astrobiologists should participate in at least one internship during college to gain valuable experience, explore career options, and allow them to make industry contacts, which could lead to a job offer after graduation.
Astrobiologists must be systematic in their approach to solving problems. They should have probing, inquisitive minds and an aptitude for biology, geology, chemistry, astronomy, microbiology, molecular biology, biogeochemistry, oceanography, and mathematics. Patience and imagination are also required, since they may spend much time in observation and analysis. Astrobiologists must also have good communication skills in order to gather and exchange data and solve problems that arise in their work.