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What You Need to Know About Physicist

Position Description Conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories.

Life As a Physicist

  • Perform complex calculations as part of the analysis and evaluation of data, using computers.
  • Direct testing and monitoring of contamination of radioactive equipment, and recording of personnel and plant area radiation exposure data.
  • Develop theories and laws on the basis of observation and experiments, and apply these theories and laws to problems in areas such as nuclear energy, optics, and aerospace technology.
  • Conduct application evaluations and analyze results to determine commercial, industrial, scientific, medical, military, or other uses for electro-optical devices.
  • Develop manufacturing, assembly, and fabrication processes of lasers, masers, infrared, and other light-emitting and light-sensitive devices.
  • Report experimental results by writing papers for scientific journals or by presenting information at scientific conferences.

Physicist Required Skills

Physicists state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Science: Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Mathematics: Using mathematics to solve problems.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Other Physicist Job Titles

  • Optical Instrument Specialist
  • Cloud Physicist
  • Physical Aerodynamicist
  • Thermodynamicist
  • Weapons Engineer

Job Outlook for Physicists

There were about 17,900 jobs for Physicist in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 14.5% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 2,600 new jobs for Physicist by 2026. The BLS estimates 1,700 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Physicists in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Physicist are Arizona, Idaho, and Florida. Watch out if you plan on working in North Dakota, New Hampshire, or Nebraska. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Physicist Average Salary

The typical yearly salary for Physicists is somewhere between $59,300 and $193,280.

Salary Ranges for Physicists

Physicists who work in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, or New Mexico, make the highest salaries.

How much do Physicists make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $133,930
Arizona $134,390
California $115,970
Colorado $106,490
District of Columbia $144,300
Florida $143,370
Georgia $122,040
Hawaii $126,480
Idaho $114,230
Illinois $114,320
Iowa $123,140
Louisiana $143,000
Maine $121,650
Maryland $120,450
Massachusetts $150,170
Michigan $106,650
Minnesota $155,140
Mississippi $101,420
Missouri $114,890
New Hampshire $130,150
New Jersey $134,280
New Mexico $149,910
New York $138,920
North Carolina $143,070
Ohio $122,370
Oklahoma $164,190
Oregon $124,410
Pennsylvania $137,060
South Carolina $129,860
Tennessee $124,950
Texas $118,300
Utah $129,480
Vermont $111,080
Virginia $108,440
Washington $110,710
Wisconsin $150,670

What Tools do Physicists Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Physicists:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • JavaScript
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Git
  • Python
  • Microsoft Access
  • MySQL
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • Structured query language SQL
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • Linux
  • Microsoft Visual Basic
  • Extensible markup language XML
  • UNIX
  • National Instruments LabVIEW
  • C

How do I Become a Physicist?

What education or degrees do I need to become a Physicist?

Physicist Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Physicist Work Experience

Physicists Sector

Physicist Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Physicists employed by various industries.

Physicist Industries

References:

Image Credit: A. T. Service via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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