Physicists are scientists who study the properties of the universe and laws that govern space, time, energy, and matter. They often utilize sophisticated technology and equipment, including particle accelerators, electron microscopes, and lasers, to conduct experiments and aid in research. The work of physicists has both theoretical and practical applications. Some of the broader job responsibilities of physicists include:
- Conducting scientific research and experiments to learn about the fundamental nature of matter and energy
- Developing scientific theories to explain the properties of the universe and its natural laws
- Designing equipment and developing computer software for research, experiments, and data analysis
- Presenting research findings to fellow scientists and the general public
The BLS predicts employment of physicists to increase 14% from 2010 to 2020. Continued federal funding of physics research and the demand for applied physics research by private industry is stimulating job growth for physicists. Individuals with a background in physics will find career opportunities in the fields of medicine, information technology, and research-and-development.Read More
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Becoming a Physicist
Research physicists are expected to hold a Ph.D. in physics or a related field. A Ph.D. program will typically take five to seven years to complete. Individuals with just a bachelor's degree in physics may qualify to work as technicians or research assistants in a related field such as engineering or computer science. Many schools offer master's degree programs in physics that prepare students for research-and-development positions that do not require a Ph.D.
Many online bachelor's degree programs in physics lead to licensure to teach physics to middle and high school students, while other programs are designed to prepare students for graduate level studies. Students will need to complete any required lab work on-campus or in the field. Physics degree program curriculum will include courses in natural science and math, as well as classical and quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism. Graduate students usually concentrate on a specific field of physics.
Classes in a bachelor's level physics degree program may include:
- Quantum Mechanics
- Electricity and Magnetism
- Introduction to Micro and Nanotechnology
- Statistical Thermodynamics
Physicists with a Ph.D. may, over time, acquire larger research budgets or tenure in university positions. They may also advance to managerial positions such as a natural science manager.