How do I prepare for a career in astrophysics?

Career and further training as an astrophysicist


We humans often think we already know a lot. As an astrophysicist, you know that this statement is very relative. But if you want to answer the as yet unanswered questions of astronomy and astrophysics, if you have wanderlust to the stars and are more interested in fundamental questions than applied research and technology, then you are in very good hands with research. As an astrophysicist, a doctorate is usually compulsory. The doctoral thesis usually lasts between three and five years. During this advanced training as an astrophysicist, you will deal very intensively with a specific question, such as which energy a new sun emits and which conclusions can be drawn about its origin. With a Dr. rerum naturalis, i.e. a doctorate, you are then very well qualified for research at universities and institutes. The further academic career is so free for you and maybe with the habilitation you will take a small step for humanity, but a big step for yourself. A doctorate qualifies you just as well for a managerial position in the private sector, so you do not commit yourself to an academic career with a doctorate.

Technical optics

The aerospace industry relies on highly precise optical instruments to shoot high-resolution images of space. Optical systems enable the exploration of the earth and planets or, in public air traffic, for example the detection of wake vortices from aircraft. As an astrophysicist, the advanced training in technical optics specializes in the development and testing of such devices, whether detectors, scanners or lasers.

Aviation and spacecraft technology

In industry, the aerospace sector is your biggest employer. As an astrophysicist, further training in aerospace engineering courses is your step towards aircraft or satellite construction. There you can, for example, specialize in aircraft construction or engine mechanics and gain special knowledge about aerodynamics, pre-dimensioning, composite technology or load determination.

Project management

As a physicist, you are very familiar with problem solving and analytical thinking and you don't have to look up teamwork in the dictionary. In industry, it will not be uncommon for you to be entrusted with project management. If management work suits you, then you can recommend yourself as an astrophysicist with further training in project management and corporate management as a responsible employee. Practical research and development work takes a back seat. Instead, the threads come together for you and you have to keep an eye on the goals and deadlines of your work group.

Science journalist

When XMM-Newtons, gravitational dynamics or neutrinos are mentioned, most ordinary people only understand the spaceport. But so that everyone who is interested in topics related to astronomy and astrophysics also has easy access to the latest research results and open questions, you are in demand as a middleman who does not surrender to papers, but can also simplify the content in such a way that everyone can follow you. Since journalist is a job title that anyone can choose, you could start typing right away. Nevertheless, as an astrophysicist, it is advisable to seek further training through courses and seminars. A traineeship at scientific magazines would also be conceivable, you have to plan around 18-24 months for this and the applicants for each position are numerous.