Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are interested in becoming an astrophysicist, concentrate on classes in mathematics and science (especially physics). If they are available, take classes at an advanced level to better prepare for challenging college courses. English and speech classes are also important because astrophysicists must write up their results, communicate with other scientists, and lecture on their findings. Finally, make sure you are comfortable working with computers either by taking a computer science class or by exploring on your own.

Postsecondary Training

An advanced degree is highly desirable for a career in astrophysics. A few who have bachelor's degrees in physics, astronomy, or mathematics may work as research assistants in the field. To do your own research or teach, you should have at least a master's degree, with a Ph.D. preferred for full astrophysicists.

Other Education or Training

The American Astronomical Society offers career workshops on employment options in astronomy, landing a job, and other topics. Contact the society for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for astrophysicists. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

A solid background in mathematics and physics will be helpful for aspiring astrophysicists.

Because astrophysicists deal with abstract concepts and faraway celestial bodies, an active imagination and the ability to draw logical conclusions from observational data are helpful traits. Some research can be tedious and take long periods of time; astrophysicists must be patient in their work and have the ability to remain focused and meet deadlines.

Astrophysicists who have a natural curiosity about why things occur no doubt enjoy their work most when research or experiments culminate in a discovery that will help them and others in the field gain a larger understanding of the universe.