Observatory Director

Manage people, projects, and equipment at an observatory.
picture of Observatory Director

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$49,000 – $155,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Observatory Directors do?

“Observe” may sound passive, like you’re just sitting around waiting for things to happen. But your job as an Observatory Director is anything but boring. That’s because you’re in charge of some of the most sophisticated viewing equipment on the face of the earth. You supervise the daily activities and ongoing programs for these installations as they gather information about the cosmos, and expand human understanding of space, the stars, and other planets.

As an Observatory Director, your life is a colorful constellation of different duties and responsibilities. Many observatories are funded by schools or the government, so you may need to help with or lead the process of securing funding for regular periods (annual, every two or five years, etc.). You may also be required to present reports that attest to your facility’s progress on the various goals that you have set out to study. And of course, when you’re an Observatory Director, you interact with your various research teams on a daily basis, making sure that their needs are being met so that they can make progress on their assignments.

You see the workings of the observatory like a perfectly ordered solar system. Using your understanding of math, science, management, and leadership, you bring a group of Scientists and Engineers together to do amazing things. You likely work during the day in an office at the observatory or on the campus where it is situated. Expect to make speeches and reports at other locations, and to be at the observatory some nights to check in on your teams and join them in their discoveries.

Should I be an Observatory Director?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.

  • Also known as: Lunar and Planetary Institute Director, National Radio Astronomy Observatory Director, Space Sciences Director

    How to become an Observatory Director

    Most Observatory Directors have a Doctorate. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaaag9&chl=||||master%27s+%289%25%29|doctorate+%2891%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,91
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