Here are some questions I received as part of an e-mail interview with a
high school student. I tried to give relatively short answers, and not to
be too flippant (both of which are hard for me).
- What is your career?
- What are the main duties of a your job?
- Where do you work at?
- How much time do you work in a week?
- Do you work in a routine?
- Do you work independantly, or with a group of colleagues?
- What is the working environment like?
- What is an average day on the job like?
- How much leisure time do you have?
- Why did you choose this job as your career among the others?
- What characteristics do you think are important for people in this
- What are the most rewarding aspects of this work?
- What are the most challenging aspects of this work?
- What skills does the career require?
- How many years of education do you need in order to qualify for a
- *If possible, but only at your convenience, how much do you earn in
a year? (estamates are fine)
- What are the average wages and what are the starting wages?
- Is it competitive to be in this field?
- Is this a felmale-dominated or male-dominated job?
- Are there any opportunities for job advancement in this field?
- Is the job secure? Have you ever faced the risks of being
- Is this industry growing, stable, or in decline?
- Where do jobs in this field exist?
- Do most people in the field work Full-time or part-time, sesonally
- I'm an astronomer/physicist
- Research and teaching, and too much administrative work!
- University of British Columbia
- 60 hours maybe? (nobody does this sort of work unless they love it!)
- No routine unless I can't avoid it
- Sometimes independently -sometimes with students -
often with colleagues elsewhere
- Very pleasant environment - I am my own boss
- Depends. Teaching and preparing for teaching have to come first.
Then there are meetings, and various other demands on my time. I try to get
research done whenever I can (calculating stuff, writing papers, etc), and
if there's time left I answer e-mails like this one.
- Almost none I'd say. You have to work hard to be successful in the
academic world. But I try not to work at weekends.
- Astrophysics is the most interesting thing there is. No other reason
is relevant. Certainly I could make much more money doing other things.
But I love what I do, and can't imagine being fulfilled doing anything else.
- Common sense is probably most important (although not everyone has it!).
- Being involved in some of the most interesting research questions that
I can think of.
- Managing time.
- You have to be good at physics and mathematics, and these days computing
- Beyond high school probably soemthing like 12, although you get paid
for many of those years if you are good.
- It's probably more useful to give you a range. Starting professors make
anything from $30k (small teaching schools) to $80k (prestigous US schools).
- There are also people employed by the government to do similar work,
and people working in related or astronomy-support jobs. The salaries are
very variable, depending on who you work for and how senior you are.
Generally it's a decent wage, but you could make much more with the same
qualifications if you worked in industry or finance, say.
- At the top it's still male dominated. That's changing, but still rather
slowly I'm afraid. But some women are very successful.
- Yes. In university positions there's a clear promotional programme.
- Probably more secure than most jobs, but never entirely.
- It's not an industry. Astrophysics, I think, is on the increase -
more teaching and research is being done than ever before.
- At universities, teaching colleges and government institutions.
- It's a full-time, life-time committment!
Last revised: 15th October 1998