As is true of most every career field, the standard benefits and earnings are a compelling factor in leading career minded individuals towards one career or another. In the case of the astronomer, as is the case with many intensive scientist jobs, the salary is moderately high. This is due not just to the responsibility that is placed upon these researchers and analyzers of galactic information and methods; but also, because all of the training, education, and specialized knowledge expected of every one of them. If you are considering the position of astronomer, and are wondering if the position is worth the years of training and education put into it; we offer a review of the most current median salary ranges for astronomers.
There are a number of variables that affect what an astronomer can make-as is true of any career field. The more education, training, and experience that you put into a career-most often, the more capable you are of making a higher salary. Moreover, geography of where you work can also play a huge part in the salary you take home-as different locations of the country and world have different standards of living.
With this in mind, the most standard of annual salary for an astronomer-as of 2008 according to the U.S. Census-is $98,000. So this is the average, but as noted, there are a number of factors that can affect the probability of this number. For one, if a person only gets a B.S. in Astronomy or Physics, they are most likely to become an Assistant for an Astronomer and receive a salary of perhaps, $30,000; whereas an astronomer who has gotten their required Masters would receive $50,000 annually and/or someone with a Doctorate in a specialized discipline can expect to make entry-level $80,000. Moreover, with experience and time spent in the field, this salary could easily reach $100,000 from $80,000 in a few short years-if the candidate worked hard and steadily enough.
Another invaluable variable to how much an astronomer can make in a year depends on the industry they choose to work in and for. There are three main employers that a qualified professional astronomer can work for-each with their own specific salary average. Below, we show all three, and what the 2008 census reported for people in this function as astronomers:

  • Colleges, universities and professional schools: $79,160
  • Federal executive branch: $124,810
  • Scientific research and development: $102,850