Many years of education and a lot of brainpower goes into being successful in this career, and astrophysicist salary figures across the country are a reflection of this. Although there is not a lot of demand for employees in this industry, those individuals who are lucky enough to land lucrative positions have very handsome incomes.

National Average

The average nationwide salary for individuals employed as astrophysicists was $87,260 in 2010 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those working for the United States Government earned the highest salaries at an average of $137,420 annually, and those who work for universities, colleges and schools across the nation earn the lowest salaries at about $64,070 per year. Bringing up the middle are astrophysicists employed in life science, engineering and physical research and development settings; they earned an average of $92,040 per year. These figures are lower than the average salary earned by physicists across all industries, which is $106,370 per year.

Salary by Location

The amount of money an astrophysicist can earn varies somewhat based upon his or her location. The demand for astrophysicists is relatively low, so these individuals may need to relocate after college in order to find employment. Larger cities offer the best income opportunities; astrophysicists in New York, NY earn the highest salaries in the country at an average of $115,000 per year. Astrophysicists working in the Midwest earn the lowest salaries, and Indianapolis, IN is a prime example of this since individuals in this career field only earn $73,000 per year on average here—more than $10,000 per year below the national average.

Amount of Education and Experience

Astrophysicists are required have Doctorate or Professional degrees in order to obtain even an entry level position in this exciting field. As such, individuals who are employed in the first year after graduating college will earn an average of $48,710 per year. However, as astrophysicists gain experience and make names from themselves, it is possible that they may earn as much as $155,480 per year. Among those that are lowest paid are junior astrophysicists; these individuals typically assist their senior counterparts in research and other fields as they attend college to earn a Doctorate degree, and they usually earn well under the entry-level salary

Other Contributing Factors

The amount of money an astrophysicist earns can vary based upon his or her employer. For example, an individual who works for a private company will almost undoubtedly earn less than someone working for NASA. Similarly, astrophysicists whose research is highly regarded throughout the industry will have more available job opportunities and therefore the chance to earn a much larger salary. Finally, astrophysicists who work to develop software and equipment that is used to calculate measurements, view distant stars or even leave the Earth’s atmosphere to collect data from our solar system or deep space tend to earn more than those who spend their days observing particle acceleration.
There is no denying that astrophysicists certainly have one of the most interesting and highest paid jobs in the nation. However, those who want to earn the highest salaries will do well to make innovative contributions to the industry in locations where their services are in the highest demand.