Astrophysicist Salary Guide and Career Outlook

Astrophysics involves the study and understanding of the mechanics, forces and objects in space. These scientists, whose work is similar to those of astronomers, observe stars, planets and natural satellites, among other extraterrestrial features.

Astrophysicists in the United States earn a mean salary of $87,621. The mean registers at C$65,500 ($51,115 USD) in Canada, 30,000 ($40,103 USD) in the United Kingdom, and AU$151,977 ($115,406 USD).

In New Zealand, the mean pay for astrophysicists stands at NZD$127,656 ($87,991 USD). Astrophysicists earn INR6,68,969 (INR 668,969 in Western form) ($10,380 USD) in India and R488,335 ($35,693 USD) in South Africa.

astrophycisist salary

How Much Does an Astrophysicist Make per Year by State?

Astrophysicist Salary US Canada UK Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Hourly Pay $42.13 C$31.49 £14.42 AU$73.00 NZD$61 INR322 R234.78
Annual Pay $87,621 C$65,500 £30,000 AU$151,977 NZD$127,656 INR6,68,969 R488,335

Astrophysicist Salary Influencing Factors

With government and academia as major actors in the astrophysics field, pay often turns on salary scales established by government agencies and universities. Location and the astrophysicists’ experience are factors in these scales. Budgets may limit what many astrophysicists may earn in government agencies or universities.

1. Location

In the United States, astronomers in the Washington, DC area have the highest salaries, at $133,500 per year on a mean basis. The “Houston-Woodlands-Sugarland” area ranks second, at $127,120, followed by Los Angeles at $120,650. The “Baltimore-Columbia-Townsend, MD” region has the fourth highest figures, at $114,720, while astronomers in Boulder, CO occupy fifth place, at $112,100.

“Physicists and Astronomers” in Alberta have the highest median hourly rates in Canada, making C$55.14. Hourly pay in the field ranks lowest in Ontario, at C$38.99. The median of C$43.69 in British Columbia and Quebec falls near the median of C$43.59 nationwide in Canada.

The pay of government astronomers and astrophysicists can run higher in more populous areas. The U.S. government’s pay schedules typically account for the region of the astrophysicist’s employment. A study commissioned by the Indian government’s “Seventh Central Pay Commission” shows generally that pay of government scientists in cities with more than five million residents exceeded that in cities with less than 500,000 by $8,000 to $13,000.

How Much Does an Astrophysicist Make in the US?

Astrophysicist Salary US Per Year Per Hour
Minimum $46,452 $22.33
Maximum $121,544 $58.43
Bonus $152 to $10,850 $0.07 to $5.22
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay $46,452 to $130,992

How Much Does an Astrophysicist Make in Canada?

Astrophysicist Salary Canada Per Year Per Hour
Minimum C$45,958 C$22.10
Maximum C$100,671 C$48.40
Bonus C$4,913 C$2.36
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay C$52,500 to C$102,041

How Much Does an Astrophysicist Make in the UK?

Astrophysicist Salary UK Per Year Per Hour
Minimum £16,000 £7.69
Maximum £60,000 £28.85
Bonus £900 £0.43
Overtime No additional No additional
Total Pay £16,219 to £62,305

How Much Does an Astrophysicist Make in Australia?

Astrophysicist Salary Australia Per Year Per Hour
Minimum AU$105,925 AU$50.93
Maximum AU$189,240 AU$90.98
Bonus AU$5,441 AU$2.62
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay AU$105,925 to AU$194,681

How Much Does an Astrophysicist Make in New Zealand?

Astrophysicist Salary New Zealand Per Year Per Hour
Minimum NZD$88,892 NZD$42.74
Maximum NZD$158,811 NZD$76.35
Bonus NZD$4,570 NZD$2.20
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay NZD$88,892 to NZD$163,381

How Much Does an Astrophysicist Make in India?

Astrophysicist Salary India Per Year Per Hour
Minimum INR4,72,682 INR227.25
Maximum INR844,470 INR406
Bonus INR23,949 INR11.51
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay INR4,72,682 to INR868,419

How Much Does an Astrophysicist Make in South Africa?

Astrophysicist Salary South Africa Per Year Per Hour
Minimum R96,958 R46.61
Maximum R995,006 R478.37
Bonus R19,653 R9.45
Overtime No additional pay No additional pay
Total Pay R96,958 to R1,040,724

2. Experience

Overall, more experience equates to higher earnings.

According to PayScale, beginning astrophysicists in the United States earn on average $80,000. Pay increases to a mean level of $92,000 with five years on the job, $101,000 with ten years, and $106,000 at more than 20 years of experience.

The National Careers Service says that starting astronomers garner between 13,000 and 14,000 in the United Kingdom. For experienced astronomers, pay spans between 29,000 and 36,000 and highly-experienced ones can make 60,000.

In Australia, the entry-level mean salary sits at AU$105,925. Senior-level astrophysicists reach AU$189,240 on a mean basis. For astrophysicists in New Zealand, entry-level pay averages NZD$88,892 and mean earnings at senior-level amount to NZD$158,811.

3. Industry

Astrophysicists populate academia and government agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, four out of ten astronomers (including astrophysicists) work in colleges and universities. Another 23 percent are employees of the federal government, especially NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. NASA advertises positions for “Research Astrophysicists” with pay starting at $94,796 and $112,021, depending on grade and the field of research.

University of Bath in the United Kingdom lists a salary range of 39,324 to 46,924 for an assistant professor (lecturer) position in “Observational Astrophysicists.”

Observatories provide research opportunities for qualified astrophysicists. The Australia National University offers a “Postdoctoral Fellow in Computational Astrophysics” with a salary range of AU$70,107 to AU$88,446, along with a 17-percent “superannuation,” or retirement benefits.

In South Africa, facilities such as the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope and the MeerKAT radio telescope offer employment opportunities for astrophysicists. Astrophysicists can work as scientists in the Indian Space Research Organization, with pay as reported by Glassdoor reaching INR771,002.

Bonuses & Benefits

PayScale reports that 73 percent of astrophysicists in the United States have health coverage. Nearly 45 percent report enjoying vision and dental care. Further, astrophysicists report profit sharing compensation reaching as high as $40,000.

In Canada, 86 percent of astrophysicists enjoy medical benefits. Dental and vision coverage constitute benefits for 57 percent of these professionals.

Astrophysicists in the United Kingdom earn £641 in profit-sharing.

According to PayScale, all astrophysicists in South Africa stated they had medical coverage. Half of these professionals enjoyed vision and dental benefits. Profit sharing accounted on average for R10,000 of the compensation.

Work Schedules and Hours

The astrophysicist field involves full-time work. Approximately 95 percent of “Physicists and Astronomers” in Canada work full-time.

Work hours often reach beyond normal daytime and weekday periods. Many astrophysicists man space observatories and telescope stations during overnight hours and weekends. In university or other academic settings, daytime work is more likely as classes convene during the daytime. Astrophysics and astronomy professors also hold office hours during the day.

Astrophysicists travel frequently to conferences, meetings and observatories. Overnight and overseas stays are common.

Career Outlook

Academic institutions and government agencies constitute a sizable presence of employers of astrophysicists. As a result, the availability of funding could affect the number of openings. A PhD affords the best opportunity for many jobs, especially in college settings. In fact, The Globe and Mail states that opportunities for astrophysicist jobs in Canada are generally limited to those with PhDs.

Holders of bachelor degrees in astronomy or astrophysics may find jobs in telecommunications, computer science, laboratories or observatories as junior-level staffers, teaching and science.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10 percent rise in employment of astronomers by 2026. However, the small size of this occupation will yield only 200 new openings by 2026.

According to Job Bank Canada, the “Physicists and Astronomers” field should have 10,200 openings for 9,900 job seekers by 2024.

Shortages of astrophysicists in South Africa may lead to opportunities in academia, especially for PhDs.

Conclusion

Astrophysicists can increase their pay and improve employment prospects with experience and earning a PhD. In certain geographic areas, a doctorate degree serves as an advantage, if not necessity, to finding positions in especially research and teaching at the university level.

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