Find Schools

Study Area & Zipcode

Physical Sciences Major

Find Schools Near

Physical Sciences

$101,890 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Physical Sciences Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many physical sciences graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 32,633
Master’s Degree 7,146
Associate’s Degree 7,111
Doctor’s Degree 6,324
Basic Certificate 202
Graduate Certificate 103
Undergraduate Certificate 37

What Physical Sciences Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to physical sciences and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Physical Sciences Majors

Physical Sciences majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

undefined
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.

Skills for Physical Sciences Majors

When studying physical sciences, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

undefined
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Physical Sciences Majors

As you progress with your physical sciences degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

undefined
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

What Can You Do With a Physical Sciences Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with physical sciences:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers 5.5% $140,760
Astronomers 10.0% $105,680
Atmospheric and Space Scientists 12.5% $94,110
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors 9.9% $90,860
Chemistry Professors 9.9% $79,550
Chemists 6.5% $76,890
Clinical Research Coordinators 9.9% $123,860
Engineering Professors 14.7% $101,720
Environmental Restoration Planners 11.1% $71,130
Environmental Science Professors 10.1% $79,910
Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health 11.1% $71,130
Forensic Science Technicians 16.9% $58,230
Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers 14.1% $91,130
Hydrologists 10.4% $79,370
Industrial Ecologists 11.1% $71,130
Materials Scientists 7.6% $99,800
Natural Sciences Managers 9.9% $123,860
Physicists 14.5% $120,950
Physics Postsecondary Professors 10.2% $90,800
Professors 9.4% $65,660
Remote Sensing Scientists and Technologists 6.8% $107,230
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $60,320
Water Resource Specialists 9.9% $123,860

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Sciences?

32,633 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
41% Percent Women
30% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This major attracts more men than women. About 59% of the graduates in this field are male.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of physical sciences majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Physical Sciences Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 2,938
Black or African American 1,602
Hispanic or Latino 3,797
White 19,679
International Students 2,323
Other Races/Ethnicities 2,294

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Physical Sciences, too. About 7.1% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Physical Sciences Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in physical sciences made a median starting salary of $35,100 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $31,700 (25th percentile) and $39,300 (75th percentile).

undefined

We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to physical sciences so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Physical Sciences majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $82,790 to $111,090 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Physical Sciences Major  ( 82790 to 111090 )
0K
250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
0K
250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
0K
250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
0K
250K

Some degrees associated with physical sciences may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for physical sciences careers below.

undefined
Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 0.8%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.5%
Some College Courses 2.3%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 1.7%
Bachelor’s Degree 33.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 3.5%
Master’s Degree 25.7%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.2%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.3%
Doctoral Degree 19.5%
Post-Doctoral Training 11.8%

Online Physical Sciences Programs

In 2018-2019, 1,519 schools offered a physical sciences program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 87 1
Certificate (1-2 years) 19 2
Certificate (2-4 Years) 1 0
Associate’s Degree 649 22
Bachelor’s Degree 61 5
Post-Baccalaureate 87 1
Master’s Degree 1,091 26
Post-Master’s 22 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 795 2
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 2 0

Is a Degree in Physical Sciences Worth It?

The median salary for a physical sciences grad is $101,890 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 155% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,239,800 after 20 years!

undefined

You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to physical sciences.

Major Number of Grads
Computer & Information Sciences 220,337
Engineering 200,684
Biological & Biomedical Sciences 162,961
Engineering Technologies 92,549
Mathematics & Statistics 49,748
Agriculture & Agriculture Operations 38,513
Natural Resources & Conservation 29,904
Architecture & Related Services 17,753
Communications Technologies & Support 15,972
Science Technologies / Technicians 7,448

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

Featured Schools

Find Schools Near You

Our free school finder matches students with accredited colleges across the U.S.