Becoming a Astronomer - How to Become a Astronomer
First, if you haven’t already done so, make a thorough examination of yourself as to whether you really do want to go into astronomy and become a astronomer. Do you know what becoming a astronomer entails? Spend a few days, or longer, doing this self examination. Just make sure that becoming a astronomer is really what you want to do. The following may sound cliché to you, but it is very true: so many people just rush into a job because they do not know of what else is out there. So do take a little time out of your busy schedule to reflect if this is what you would like to do for the rest of your life. There is nothing wrong about being a astronomer. You may really like it. Just make sure that your temperament and personality fit this type of job and that you know what a typical day of being a astronomer is like.
Different people are suited to different jobs. You will excel and be happier in a job that suits you more than in one that is molded onto you by society. All jobs are worthy because everyone can make a difference to society in any job. We need cashiers, people dumping garbage, taxi drivers, computer programmers, etc. In choosing your favorite occupation and excelling in it, you will make your stamp in this world most pronounced.
Get good marks. In order to qualify for university and graduate school, you will need good marks throughout your entire academic journey. Try also to enjoy what you are learning and try to learn for the sake of learning.
You will almost certainly need a graduate degree, likely a Ph.D. Try to find all the programs and schools that you think you might have an interest in and thoroughly read through their curriculum, admission policies, and the success rates of their graduates obtaining good positions. Prepare as early as possible for admission. You do not want to miss deadlines, or not do something that could easily have been done.
Obtain some job experience or do some job shadowing with astronomers. This will allow you to find out what being a astronomer is like. Maybe you really hate it. Maybe you love it. It's a great opportunity to broaden your horizons even if you decide not to become a astronomer in the future. Getting job or volunteer experience will also look very favorable to future employers, as they will know that you were capable enough that someone trusted you with their work. It will also allow you to get reference letters if you need any. Last, but not least, you will gain practical experience and contacts as a astronomer that may help you in your future job.
Keep an eye on various places where there may be job postings right from day one that you decide you want to become a astronomer. Even if you are not yet qualified for the job, job postings give you a very good idea about what type of skills employers are looking for. You may want to hone those skills or learn them during the next several years. Of course, with technology changing so rapidly, those same skills could become obsolete, so try to pick skills that you think will be around for a while and will be useful in the future in a broad range of situations.
Decide if you want to specialize in the future. If you do, then you should try to go to a post-secondary institution that specializes in your particular specialty. It will make you a more attractive and competitive candidate when it comes time to look for a job. Be careful about specializing too early, though, or even specializing at all, as that specialty may become obsolete or not in as much demand when you are ready to go into the workforce. However, specializing definitely has its advantages, as you will be the recognized expert in your specialty. You may even be paid more, which is why many people specialize. So do consider it to be a viable option.
Choose your employer carefully. If you do not think that you would fit in a particular company, you probably should not even apply there. Of course, you should try not to be picky, but do try to make an effort to think a little about what type of company and work environment you desire. You don't want to be finding another job in two months.
Once you have a job as a astronomer, try to distinguish yourself a little every day. The objective is not to get a promotion or a pay raise, although that would be a nice bonus, but just as a duty to yourself. A pledge to yourself to try to make your job a little bit better for other people. The extra effort will make yourself feel pleased, as well as really do a service to others. Also consider upgrading your skills once in a while by taking courses or learning by yourself. Try not to over-exert yourself, though, when working or when spending extra time to learn skills. But do put in a good day's work. Work in a relaxed manner. Work at a comfortable pace, but just do not slack at your duty. After all, it's your profession!
Wish you every success with your job as a astronomer!