Make Your Career In Astrobiology Program

Jul 24, 2021

Choose a specialized astrobiology program for your future.

We all have wondered at some point about what is life? How did life start? Is there any extraterrestrial life? A field of science that essentially involves answering such questions is known as Astrobiology. It is defined as the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. Astrobiology involves research into the origins, early evolution, and diversity of life on Earth; the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry or life on Solar System bodies like Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan, and Jupiter’s moon Europa; and the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and on planets around other stars. 

There are countless mysteries about planets and moons, solar systems, galaxies, and the space between them. And experts have been trying for ages to get the answers to this curiosity. We are too curious about Aliens and UFOs, Asteroids and Black holes, time gapping, and mapping. So can there be a possibility of other Solar systems like ours? If you want to relish the company of heavenly bodies and research its various unlimited aspects, then a Degree in Astrobiology will feed your interest.

What is Astrobiology? 

Astrobiology is a relatively new stream that studies the origin of life, early evolution, distribution, and future experience in the Universe. Additionally, it deals with questions related to the existence of Extraterrestrial life. In other words, it requires a comprehensive, integrated understanding of biological, planetary, and cosmic phenomena. The astrobiology program explores the students’ experience in planetary Science, extrasolar planets, and life’s origin. At the same time, students take a solid core of mathematics, physics, and biology courses, allowing them to pursue a wide range of interests.

Career Scope

Taking a program with no hopes of securing a job is downright frustrating. With the increased unemployment rate in many countries, students will be more reluctant to pursue their interests unless they are guaranteed employment. The good news is that the Astrobiology program can lead you into several career ventures, and you have the freedom to choose any between any of these, I'll mention. That said, students with a degree in Astrobiology can look forward to careers such as:

1. Astronomy

If you have always loved listening to scientific theories, you won't listen to such ideas anymore. Instead, you will be developing these theories and justifying them if you happen to pursue this program. Additionally, your role will be to analyze scientific data and write scientific proposals. 

2. Geology

Once you have studied the earth’s physical composition, you will use that knowledge to explore and discover where oil can be mined. Additionally, you will explore gas and other minerals and come up with ways to extract these minerals as a scientist. 

3. Space Sciences Research

You'll be responsible for knowing how the earth and other planets work. You will also participate in research, collect, and analyze scientific data while also doing lab tests for the collected data samples to see the outcomes and decide what should be done. Space scientists and geoscientists almost have the same roles. What differentiates them is that the space scientists look up while geoscientists look down. 

4. Biomedical Research

This also involves research, as you have seen with other careers. That said, Biomedical research requires research, testing, and analyzing samples in the medical industry. When you happen to go this route in your career, your primary role will be to test samples in the lab using modern technology equipment. 

5. Environment Research

If you have always been cautious about the environment, this career will suit you well. It involves conducting research, identifying, and controlling some hazards to the environment, such as pollutants. Additionally, you will be responsible for conducting research about air pollutants and coming up with ways to manage them.

6. Post-Secondary Teaching

Usually, some people love passing the knowledge they have to others, and this is wonderful. If you take this program, the chances are that you can pass the knowledge you have accumulated to your juniors. Post-secondary teachers are responsible for teaching courses in their subject areas. So, if you love teaching, this career is for you. 

7. University-based Research

You must love researching a lot to fit into this role. In other words, this career is for those who love exploring, are curious, and love spending their time with scientific books or journals. And look, I'm not saying this to discourage you. University-based research is relied upon by nearly every institution across the world. As such, it needs to be perfect or near-perfect. 

In preparation for an astrobiology career, you will be required to participate in Seminars and internships with local and national companies. Some of these companies include;

  • NASA
  • The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • Sandia National Labs
  • The American Institute of Physics

These internship opportunities allow you to gather the necessary experience and put them ahead of the competition when searching for an astrobiology career.

Career Roles in Astrobiology:

Besides performing research in a lab, there are various other variety of jobs open to astrobiologists such as teaching at a university; working in the press office providing information to the media about the latest astronomy news; being a science journalist writing for magazines, books, newspapers, or websites about the latest discoveries; developing educational materials such as Astrobiology Graphic Histories if you have artistic skills; work in science policy or in project management or administration helping space missions get funded and co-ordinating their construction and operation, among others.

Education Required

  • To be a NASA scientist, you must have a bachelor's degree in physics, astrophysics, astronomy, geology, space science, or a similar field.
  • If you want to pursue this degree after the 10+2 level, few colleges like the Florida Institute of Technology (https://www.fit.edu/programs/astrobiology-bs/) offer the Astrobiology Program for Undergraduates. That said, if you are applying for an undergraduate from this field, you must be from the science stream and must have some mathematics basics.
  • For Masters’s in Astrobiology, the minimum qualification required is a Bachelor's degree in any Science, Astronomy, Space Science, Geology, Chemistry, Biology, or related field from a recognized university.
  • Candidates with their Bachelor’s in subjects like Biogeochemistry, Microbiology, Geological Science, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, etc., also can pursue a specialized course in Astrobiology.
  • There are even online courses (https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/education/online-courses/), which can help you to become an Astrobiologist.

Skills Required

  • Analytical skills for being accurate during research experiments
  • Critical-thinking skills for studying and analyzing research work
  • Technical skills for using multiple pieces of equipment required for research
  • Math skills for performing complex and various operations with research experiments’ data
  • Flexible for having an impartial perspective for research
  • Persistent for continuing research
  • Out-of-the-box Thinker to come up with innovative research ideas.

Some Institutes Offering Degrees in Astrobiology

  • NASA Astrobiology Institute
  • European Astrobiology Institute
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Arizona

Salary

It is a new stream, and it is challenging to range the salary for astrobiology jobs. Taking California as the location (NAI headquarters), the salary-comparison website Vault.com estimates that astrobiologists can earn anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 and above per year, depending on your experience. 

BiologySalary says $50,000 to $110,000, with an average of about $60,000 to $95,000. CareerBuilder has $90,000 as the average.

NASA considers the level of work and the responsibility you handle in determining and increasing salaries. The median wage stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and those advertised by NASA, as shown in the education section, is over $100,000, which is level GS-14 and above.

The Future of Astrobiology

Opportunities for physicists, astrophysicists, and astronomers are expected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is significantly faster than employment in general. Entry-level jobs are always tough to break. A high GPA, an advanced degree, and internships or work experience involving unusual or cutting-edge research could be a plus that sets you apart from other candidates.

Conclusion

There are many different ways of having a career in this vast and wonderful field of astrobiology if you are interested in exploring tiny atoms in the vast universe. As Albert Einstein once said, “the universe is stranger than we can imagine, “there is unquestionably a lot more to explore beyond our home planet. If you are someone intrigued by the way the world works are fascinated to go deep and find more answers about the existence of life on Earth and the universe, the field of astrobiology is your game!

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