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Career Profile: Physicists

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

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 17,400 people employed as physicists in the United States. The median annual salary is $129,900. Entry level employees earn approximately $67,450 per year and senior employees earn approximately $208,000 (or more) per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Perform complex calculations as part of the analysis and evaluation of data, using computers.
  • Analyze data from research conducted to detect and measure physical phenomena.
  • Describe and express observations and conclusions in mathematical terms.
  • Design computer simulations to model physical data so that it can be better understood.
  • Write research proposals to receive funding.
  • Teach physics to students.
  • Report experimental results by writing papers for scientific journals or by presenting information at scientific conferences.
  • Conduct research pertaining to potential environmental impacts of atomic energy-related industrial development to determine licensing qualifications.
  • Observe the structure and properties of matter, and the transformation and propagation of energy, using equipment such as masers, lasers, and telescopes, to explore and identify the basic principles governing these phenomena.
  • 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.
  • Collaborate with other scientists in the design, development, and testing of experimental, industrial, or medical equipment, instrumentation, and procedures.
  • Develop standards of permissible concentrations of radioisotopes in liquids and gases.
  • 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.
  • Advise authorities of procedures to be followed in radiation incidents or hazards, and assist in civil defense planning.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
17,400
Annual Openings:
1,300
Increase in Openings by 2030:
9%
Annual Salary Range:
$67,450 - $208,000
Education Requirements:
Master's degree or higher