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What Do Physicists Do?

Physicist Definition 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

  • Conduct application evaluations and analyze results to determine commercial, industrial, scientific, medical, military, or other uses for electro-optical devices.
  • Design computer simulations to model physical data so that it can be better understood.
  • Describe and express observations and conclusions in mathematical terms.
  • Analyze data from research conducted to detect and measure physical phenomena.
  • Perform complex calculations as part of the analysis and evaluation of data, using computers.
  • Advise authorities of procedures to be followed in radiation incidents or hazards, and assist in civil defense planning.

Qualities of a Physicist

When polled, Physicists say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

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.

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

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

  • Scientist Electronics
  • Physicist
  • Thermodynamicist
  • Optical Scientist
  • Mathematical Physicist

Job Demand for Physicists

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 17,900 jobs in the United States for Physicists.

New jobs are being produced at a rate of 14.5% which is lower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 2,600 new jobs for Physicists by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 1,700 job openings in this field each year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Physicists in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Physicists are California, New Mexico, and New York.

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.

Salary for Physicists

The salary for Physicists ranges between about $59,300 and $193,280 a year. The median salary for this occupation is $120,950.

Salary Ranges for Physicists

How much do Physicists make in each U.S. state?

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary

Oklahoma

$164,190

Minnesota

$155,140

Wisconsin

$150,670

Massachusetts

$150,170

New Mexico

$149,910

District of Columbia

$144,300

Florida

$143,370

North Carolina

$143,070

Louisiana

$143,000

New York

$138,920

Pennsylvania

$137,060

Arizona

$134,390

New Jersey

$134,280

Alabama

$133,930

New Hampshire

$130,150

South Carolina

$129,860

Utah

$129,480

Hawaii

$126,480

Tennessee

$124,950

Oregon

$124,410

Iowa

$123,140

Ohio

$122,370

Georgia

$122,040

Maine

$121,650

Maryland

$120,450

Texas

$118,300

California

$115,970

Missouri

$114,890

Illinois

$114,320

Idaho

$114,230

Vermont

$111,080

Washington

$110,710

Virginia

$108,440

Michigan

$106,650

Colorado

$106,490

Mississippi

$101,420

What Tools do Physicists Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Physicists may use on a daily basis:

  • Oracle Java
  • National Instruments LabVIEW
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Visual Basic
  • Microsoft Access
  • MySQL
  • Linux
  • Microsoft Word
  • Git
  • C++

How do I Become a Physicist?

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

Physicist Degree Level

What work experience do I need to become a Physicist?

Physicist Work Experience

Where Physicists Are Employed

Physicist Sectors

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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