Description: Planetary scientists process and analyze spacecraft data, perform extensive research and field work in extreme and sometimes hostile environments, create theoretical models, and write computer codes for planetary simulation.

Knowledge Required: Planetary scientists are multi-disciplined and must have extensive knowledge of planetary astronomy, astrophysics, planetary geology, hydrology, and atmospheric science.

Skills: Mathematics, analytical skills, communication, critical-thinking, problem-solving, self-discipline  

Career Path: Planetary scientists need to obtain a Ph.D for most research jobs. Graduate students may concentrate in a subfield of physics or astronomy, and take courses in mathematics, computer science, and engineering. After obtaining a Ph.D, planetary scientists typically begin their careers in temporary postdoctoral research positions.

Best Cities for this job:  Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Chicago

Median Annual Income: National: $105,430; CA: $93,000

Future Growth: The number of jobs is expected to grow about 10% in the 2012-2022 decade, which is about average.

From the field: “I think the biggest key to success is being passionate about something, and allowing yourself to be passionate about something. ” – Margarita Marinova

Did You Know?: Planet Mars is home to the highest mountain in the solar system. Olympus Mons is roughly 17 miles (27 kilometers) high, about three times as tall as Mount Everest.

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