An astrologer is someone who thinks that the basic premise of astrology is valid (that there is a correlation between celestial and earthly events), is familiar with the technical practice of the subject, and also incorporates or applies it to their life in some way.
Although in some sources the term astrologer is reserved for those who practice astrology professionally, within the astrological community there are many people who identify themselves as astrologers even though their primary vocation is not as an astrologer. Therefore, the term “astrologer” is not simply a professional designation, but instead it is generally used to refer to a class of people in society who fit the following criteria:
- Think that astrology is a legitimate phenomenon (that it “works”).
- Have some level of familiarity with the techniques of astrology, beyond what most people in society commonly know about the subject (e.g. just Sun-sign horoscopes).
- Use their familiarity with the techniques to actively incorporate astrology into their life in some way on their own, either on a daily basis or more sporadically.
The group of people who match all three of these points can be divided into two further subcategories, which are professional astrologer and amateur astrologer, with the former practicing the subject professionally and accepting money for their services, while the latter uses astrology without generally doing it in exchange for money.
Even this distinction is somewhat fluid though, since occasionally amateur astrologers will accept payments for astrological services without necessarily adopting astrology as a vocation, and conversely there are some people who alternate between practicing astrology professionally and only doing it as a hobby.
Although the term astrologist is sometimes used as a synonym for astrologer, generally the preferred designation by practitioners is “astrologer.” The term astrologist is sometimes viewed negatively by those within the astrological community because the word tends to be used by people who don’t know that “astrologer” is the preferred designation.