Physicists

Overview
Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed
Experience

Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.

Education

Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).

Job Training

Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Examples

These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, neurologists, and veterinarians.

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

Salary Salary

Salary at 10th Percentile: $67K
Salary at 25th Percentile: $95K
Median Salary: $129K
Salary at 75th Percentile: $170K
Salary at 90th Percentile: $208K

Demand
Career Demand by State Career Demand by State Legend
Core Tasks

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.

Report experimental results by writing papers for scientific journals or by presenting information at scientific conferences.

Teach physics to students.

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.

Technology Skills
Technology
Example
Hot Technology
Analytical or scientific software
The MathWorks MATLAB
Computer aided design CAD software
RibbonSoft QCad
Configuration management software
VMware
Data base management system software
SQLite
Data base user interface and query software
Structured query language SQL
Desktop publishing software
Scribus
Development environment software
Eclipse IDE
Enterprise application integration software
Extensible markup language XML
Expert system software
Ansible software
File versioning software
Git
Graphics or photo imaging software
Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
Music or sound editing software
Adobe Systems Adobe Audition
Object or component oriented development software
Oracle Java
Office suite software
Microsoft Office
Operating system software
UNIX
Presentation software
Microsoft PowerPoint
Spreadsheet software
Microsoft Excel
Video creation and editing software
Lenox Softworks VideoPoint
Web platform development software
JavaScript
Word processing software
Microsoft Word
Tools Used
Tool
Example
Computer Equipment and Accessories
Desktop computers
Developmental and professional teaching aids and materials and accessories and supplies
Geiger-Muller counters
Discrete semiconductor devices
High-resolution semiconductor detectors
Electrical equipment and components and supplies
Power amplifiers
Hand tools
Optical tweezers
Industrial optics
Pinhole filters
Laboratory and scientific equipment
Laboratory tube furnaces
Lamps and lightbulbs and lamp components
High intensity UV sources
Measuring and observing and testing instruments
Analytical balances
Medical diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine products
Computed tomography CT scanners
Personal safety and protection
Safety goggles
Photographic or filming or video equipment
High-speed video cameras
Printed circuits and integrated circuits and microassemblies
Conditioning amplifiers
Top 10 Knowledge Required
Physics
99%
Importance

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.

Mathematics
97%
Importance

Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Engineering and Technology
91%
Importance

Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

Computers and Electronics
88%
Importance

Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

English Language
74%
Importance

Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Education and Training
69%
Importance

Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Chemistry
65%
Importance

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.

Administration and Management
53%
Importance

Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Communications and Media
53%
Importance

Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

Design
50%
Importance

Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

Top 10 Skills
Science
93%
Importance

Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Mathematics
85%
Importance

Using mathematics to solve problems.

Reading Comprehension
85%
Importance

Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking
83%
Importance

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

Speaking
83%
Importance

Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Active Learning
80%
Importance

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Active Listening
80%
Importance

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
80%
Importance

Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Complex Problem Solving
78%
Importance

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Learning Strategies
78%
Importance

Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

Top 10 Abilities
Mathematical Reasoning
95%
Importance

The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.

Number Facility
85%
Importance

The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.

Written Comprehension
85%
Importance

The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Deductive Reasoning
83%
Importance

The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Fluency of Ideas
83%
Importance

The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

Inductive Reasoning
83%
Importance

The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Oral Comprehension
83%
Importance

The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Oral Expression
83%
Importance

The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Originality
83%
Importance

The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

Information Ordering
80%
Importance

The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Top 10 Work Activities
Analyzing Data or Information
92%
Importance

Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.

Interacting With Computers
92%
Importance

Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

Getting Information
91%
Importance

Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

Processing Information
88%
Importance

Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems
87%
Importance

Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
87%
Importance

Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
86%
Importance

Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

Documenting/Recording Information
83%
Importance

Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

Thinking Creatively
83%
Importance

Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
81%
Importance

Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Detailed Work Activities

Apply mathematical principles or statistical approaches to solve problems in scientific or applied fields.

Analyze geological or geographical data.

Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.

Develop theories or models of physical phenomena.

Collaborate on research activities with scientists or technical specialists.

Operate laboratory or field equipment.

Instruct college students in physical or life sciences.

Develop new or advanced products or production methods.

Analyze operational data to evaluate operations, processes or products.

Establish standards for products, processes, or procedures.

Research environmental impact of industrial or development activities.

Advise others on management of emergencies or hazardous situations or materials.

Prepare proposals or grant applications to obtain project funding.

Work Context
Electronic Mail

How often do you use electronic mail in this job?

Freedom to Make Decisions

How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?

Indoors, Environmentally Controlled

How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?

Structured versus Unstructured Work

To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?

Spend Time Sitting

How much does this job require sitting?

Face-to-Face Discussions

How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?

Work With Work Group or Team

How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Level of Competition

To what extent does this job require the worker to compete or to be aware of competitive pressures?

Importance of Being Exact or Accurate

How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?

Coordinate or Lead Others

How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?

Education
Majors
Major
Engineering Physics/Applied Physics
Astrophysics
Physics, General
Atomic/Molecular Physics
Elementary Particle Physics
Plasma and High-Temperature Physics
Nuclear Physics
Optics/Optical Sciences
Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Acoustics
Theoretical and Mathematical Physics
Physics, Other
Physics and Astronomy
Health/Medical Physics
Interests
Investigative
100%
Importance

Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Realistic
58%
Importance

Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Artistic
48%
Importance

Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Conventional
43%
Importance

Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Enterprising
29%
Importance

Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Social
15%
Importance

Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Top 10 Work Styles
Achievement/Effort
90%
Importance

Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

Analytical Thinking
90%
Importance

Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Innovation
90%
Importance

Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Initiative
88%
Importance

Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

Attention to Detail
87%
Importance

Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

Integrity
84%
Importance

Job requires being honest and ethical.

Independence
82%
Importance

Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

Persistence
82%
Importance

Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

Dependability
76%
Importance

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

Cooperation
72%
Importance

Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

Work Values
Recognition
91%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Working Conditions
89%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Achievement
86%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

Independence
86%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Support
53%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Relationships
39%
Importance

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.