PHYSICISTS explore and identify the basic principles governing the structure and behavior of matter, the generation and transfer of energy, and the interaction of matter and energy. They may use these principles in theoretical areas, such as the nature of time and the origin of the universe. Others apply their physics knowledge to practical areas, such as the development of advanced materials, electronic and optical devices, and medical equipment. They design and perform experiments with lasers, cyclotrons, telescopes, mass spectrometers, and other equipment. They try to find and explain laws describing the forces of nature such as gravity, electromagnetism, and nuclear interactions.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $103,000 average per year ($49.50 per hour)
- A medium occupation (25,200 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow moderately (1.4% per year)
A doctoral degree is usually required for PHYSICISTS in research and development. More experience and training in post-doctoral research is important for those wanting permanent positions in basic research in universities and government labs. A master's degree is adequate for jobs in applied research and development, and manufacturing. Those with a bachelor's may qualify for work in an engineering-related area or other scientific fields; to work as technicians; or to help in setting up lab. Some become science teachers in secondary schools.