Friday, May 21, 2010

Astronomer is one of the least popular professions(?)

The Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics Blog has a post on the most and least "popular" jobs in the United States. Most popular is led by Retail Salespersons (4,209,500 making a median annual salary $20,260), Cashiers (3,439,380 at $17,820), and General Office Clerks (2,815,240 at $17,220.) My profession, Astronomers, makes the "least popular" list at 1,240 (median salary $104,720.) That puts it just below the 1,520 Models and above the 1,170 Geographers.

In a briefing a few weeks ago I was told there are more like seven thousand astronomers, so a lot of people are missing from the list, starting with graduate students who make a lot less than $100K/yr! Astro Better posted this link, and Kelle noted that "Physics and Astronomy" is counted separately. That's me, so I don't count as an astronomer in this calculation. I'd drag down the median salary anyway :)

One thing students do need to keep in mind is that this list does suggest that your chance of becoming an astronomer is comparable to the most chance of becoming a model. There are lots of beautiful, talented people just like there are lots of smart, talented people, and it's hard to make it. However, people with advanced technical degrees do well in general.

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