Friday, December 12, 2008

Potential Jobs for a Computational Astrophysicist in 2009

My office-mate Benjamin Brown is approaching graduation and has begun to wade into the murky waters of the post-doc market. As he does this, I have been thinking a bit about the future in terms of long-term employment, which has led me to examine just what the job market is like these days for tenure-track positions. For me, I have decided that I would prefer a position where I could both teach and do research, but I would also be happy in a primarily teaching position.

As an exercise is curiosity, I decided to make a Google map (because Google maps are incredible) of what my options would be if I were looking for a tenure-track position right now to start in the fall of 2009. Here's what I have so far with teaching/research positions (my preference) in blue and teaching positions in green:

View Larger Map

First of all, you'll note that there aren't a lot of options. This year if I cast a broad net, there are only 12 teaching/research jobs that I could conceivably be qualified for and an equal number of teaching jobs. There are probably more teaching jobs out there as they are harder to find and often less publicized. Also, these 24 jobs tend to be geographically clustered in the Northeast, Midwest, and California, which is bad for my wife and I who prefer the Northwest or Mountain West.

Basically, the job picture looks bleak - especially this year with economic woes pushing some schools to delay hiring new faculty. Here's to hoping it looks better in 5-10 years when we're looking for permanent positions.


  1. Nick, you have a job awaiting you at X division at Los Alamos working on nuclear weapons simulations.

    I'm serious, we test our nuclear weapons these days using very elaborate numerical simulations and anyone doing solar/plasma/hydrodynamic numerical work is exactly what they need.

    The only problem is you will have to settle for a ~$150,000 salary.

    In case anyone is interested, here are the steps:

    1. Get a post-doc funded by X division at Los Alamos.
    2. Durring your post doc, while you are waiting for your security clearance, you do research in the above named topics while becoming failure with unclassified versions of their codes. One such code is RAGE:

    3. After your clearance you migrate over.

  2. There are two other problems with that (aside from the salary, which I think I might be able to cope with).

    1. I think working on the sun/stars will be more fulfilling than testing nuclear weapons.
    2. I enjoy teaching and I am sure that the people in the X division don't teach anybody anything about what they do.

    However, I have talked to several people that have told me that funding in our field is somewhat higher than many other fields because the DoE pumps money in to make sure that when Los Alamos goes looking for people to hire, they can find somebody, so it's a good field to be in.


To add a link to text:
<a href="URL">Text</a>