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The Question

(Submitted March 09, 1997)

I hate to burden your mail box with a possible already asked question, but I am at a critical crossroad in my life. I am an undergraduate attending a local university. I have always had an intense love of mathematics and astronomy and my current major (physics) reflects that. I would like nothing more than to work my way to a Ph.D and spend the rest of my days as an astronomer. My question is this: am I pursuing a degree in a dry field? Will there be any jobs? I have spent many hours wrestling with this dilemma and am now seeking advice. Thank you for your time.

The Answer

You ask a question that every one of us who work in the field of astronomy has asked themselves at one time or another. And there is good reason to worry about future job prospects....but then again, you have to ask yourself "would I be happy doing anything else?"

The job market has been, is, and will probably remain very difficult in astronomy. However, it is also a very exciting time for astronomers -- with lots of missions on-going and soon to be launched. There will always be jobs available for those who are talented, eager, and hard-working. This is, I believe, true for all fields...not just astronomy.

You are wise to get your degree in Physics, however. It will afford you many other job opportunities than just astronomy. (I am biased about this ....I got my degree in Physics).

Hope this is of some help to you. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Laura Whitlock

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