A cosmologist


Cosmologists are highly specialized scientists who focus on the study of the universe as a whole, which is made up by its origin, evolution and ultimate fate. They use tools and scientific instruments to observe and study other galaxies and astronomical objects such as stars, black holes, planets and other celestial bodies.


Cosmologists typically do the following tasks:

  • Conduct research to investigate the fundamental questions about the origin and evolution of the universe.
  • Develop and test mathematical models and computer simulations to study cosmological phenomena and predict cosmic events.
  • Analyze data collected from telescopes, satellites, and other astronomical instruments to gain insights into cosmic structures and phenomena.
  • Collaborate with other cosmologists, astrophysicists, and researchers to discuss findings, exchange ideas, and tackle complex cosmological problems.
  • Publish research papers in scientific journals and present findings at conferences to contribute to the collective knowledge of cosmology.
  • Participate in the design and development of new astronomical instruments and technologies to advance cosmological research.
  • Study the cosmic microwave background radiation to gain insights into the early universe and its composition.
  • Investigate the role of dark matter and dark energy in the evolution and large-scale structure of the universe.
  • Explore the formation and evolution of galaxies, galaxy clusters, and other cosmic structures.
  • Examine the cosmic expansion and potential implications for the fate of the universe.
  • Collaborate with physicists and researchers in related fields to understand the interactions between cosmology and particle physics.
  • Propose and lead observational projects to study specific cosmic phenomena or regions of the universe.
  • Stay updated on the latest developments in cosmological theories, astronomical observations, and scientific instruments.
  • Teach and mentor students pursuing degrees and careers in cosmology and related fields.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to cosmologist:

evolutionary cosmologist
observational cosmologist
theoretical cosmologist
cosmology data scientist
cosmology research scientist
cosmology scientist

Working conditions

Cosmologists typically work in academic institutions, research centers, or observatories. They may also work for governmental agencies or private organizations involved in space exploration and astronomy. The work environment often involves a combination of theoretical work, computer modeling, and data analysis. Cosmologists may work irregular hours, especially during observation campaigns and research deadlines. They may also have opportunities to collaborate with international research teams and participate in conferences worldwide.

Minimum qualifications

Cosmologists typically hold a Ph.D. in astrophysics, astronomy, or a related field with a focus on cosmology. A strong background in physics, mathematics, and computer programming is essential. Experience with numerical simulations, data analysis, and statistical methods is highly valued.

Aspiring cosmologists often start their careers as research assistants or postdoctoral researchers before securing faculty positions or research positions in cosmology. Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills are necessary, as is the ability to communicate complex scientific concepts to both experts and the general public.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Cosmologist is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Cosmologist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to cosmologist.


Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of cosmologist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of cosmologist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of cosmologist.

  • Mathematics: Mathematics is the study of topics such as quantity, structure, space, and change. It involves the identification of patterns and formulating new conjectures based on them. Mathematicians strive to prove the truth or falsity of these conjectures. There are many fields of mathematics, some of which are widely used for practical applications.
  • Aerospace engineering: The engineering discipline that combines various technologies and engineering disciplines such as avionics, materials science and aerodynamics in order to design, develop and manufacture aircraft, spacecraft, missiles and satellites.
  • Quantum optics: The field of physics combining quantum field theory and physical optics.
  • Physics: The natural science involving the study of matter, motion, energy, force and related notions.
  • Statistics: The study of statistical theory, methods and practices such as collection, organisation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. It deals with all aspects of data including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments in order to forecast and plan work-related activities.
  • Quantum mechanics: The field of research concerning the study of atoms and photons in order to quantize these particles.
  • Scientific research methodology: The theoretical methodology used in scientific research involving doing background research, constructing an hypothesis, testing it, analysing data and concluding the results.
  • Astronomy: The field of science that studies the physics, chemistry, and evolution of celestial objects such as stars, comets, and moons. It also examines phenomena that happen outside Earth’s atmosphere such as solar storms, cosmic microwave background radiation, and gamma ray bursts.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of cosmologist.

  • Carry out scientific research in observatory: Perform research in a building equipped for the observation of natural phenomena, especially in relation to celestial bodies.
  • Analyse scientific data: Collect and analyse scientific data resulting from research. Interpret these data according to certain standards and viewpoints in order to comment on it.
  • Observe celestial objects: Study the relative positions and movements of stars and planets, by using and interpreting data provided by specialised software and publications such as ephemeris.
  • Analyse telescope images: Examine images taken by telescopes in order to study phenomena and objects outside Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Perform scientific research: Gain, correct or improve knowledge about phenomena by using scientific methods and techniques, based on empirical or measurable observations.
  • Define celestial bodies: Analyse data and images to calculate the size, shape, brightness, and motion of celestial bodies.
  • Apply scientific methods: Apply scientific methods and techniques to investigate phenomena, by acquiring new knowledge or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.
  • Gather experimental data: Collect data resulting from the application of scientific methods such as test methods, experimental design or measurements.
  • Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
  • Operate telescopes: Set up and adjust telescopes in order to look at phenomena and objects outside Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Operate scientific measuring equipment: Operate devices, machinery, and equipment designed for scientific measurement. Scientific equipment consists of specialised measuring instruments refined to facilitate the acquisition of data.
  • Design scientific equipment: Design new equipment or adapt existing equipment to aid scientists in gathering and analysing data and samples.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of cosmologist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Acoustics: The study of sound, its reflection, amplification and absorption in a space.
  • Optics: The science that studies the elements and reaction of light.
  • Types of optical instruments: Possess information on the types of optical instruments and lenses, such as microscopes and telescopes, as well as on their mechanics, components, and characteristics.
  • Geophysics: The scientific field that deals with the physical processes and properties of, and spatial environment surrounding Earth. Geophysics also deals with the quantitative analysis of phenomena such as magnetic fields, the internal structure of Earth, and its hydrological cycle.
  • Types of satellites: Understand the variety of satellites that exist and their different functions. Know the different types of satellites used for communications, streaming services, surveillance, and scientific research.
  • Aeronomy: Branch of atmospheric physics dealing with the parts of the atmosphere where reactions of ionization and dissociation are predominant, and with the atmosphere of other planets.
  • Optoelectronics: Branch of electronics and optics dedicated to the study and use of electronic devices that detect and control light.
  • Geostationary satellites: Know about geostationary satellites and how they function; moving in the same direction as rotation of the Earth. Understand how they are used for telecommunication and commercial purposes.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of cosmologist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Perform laboratory tests: Carry out tests in a laboratory to produce reliable and precise data to support scientific research and product testing.
  • Write research proposals: Synthetise and write proposals aiming to solve research problems. Draft the proposal baseline and objectives, the estimated budget, risks and impact. Document the advances and new developments on the relevant subject and field of study.
  • Perform lectures: Present lectures to various groups.
  • Execute analytical mathematical calculations: Apply mathematical methods and make use of calculation technologies in order to perform analyses and devise solutions to specific problems.
  • Apply statistical analysis techniques: Use models (descriptive or inferential statistics) and techniques (data mining or machine learning) for statistical analysis and ICT tools to analyse data, uncover correlations and forecast trends.
  • Develop scientific theories: Formulate scientific theories based on empirical observations, gathered data and theories of other scientists.
  • Write scientific papers: Present the hypothesis, findings, and conclusions of your scientific research in your field of expertise in a professional publication.
  • Teach astronomy: Instruct students in the theory and practice of astronomy, and more specifically in topics such as celestial bodies, gravity, and solar storms.
  • Observe matter: Study the structure and characteristics of matter in order to identify the basic principles ruling these phenomena.

ISCO group and title

2111 – Physicists and astronomers

  1. Cosmologist – ESCO
  2. How To Become A Cosmologist in 5 Steps |
  3. Cosmologists: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more – RaiseMe
  4. Job Description for Cosmology – Chron
  5. Featured image: By Geraint F Lewis – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on August 28, 2023