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do physicists work?
More than most
other majors, physics is a passport into a broad range of science,
engineering, and education careers. Where you are likely to work
will differ by your degree level. The majority of physics bachelors
work in the private sector compared to only about one-quarter of
physics PhDs. In academia, most physics bachelors and masters teach
in high schools, while virtually all university and 4-year college
positions are held by PhDs. The other sector that employs a large
number of people with physics backgrounds is the government including
federal agencies, government laboratories, state and local government,
and the military.
What do physics
The most common
occupations differ by where they work,but
few physics bachelors have the title, physicist. In large part,
this is because most physicsbachelors work in the private sector
and, unlike other sciences, there is no "physics" industry;
physics is used in nearly all industries.
Among the most
common occupations are engineer and computer scientist. Many physics
bachelors also teach science in secondary schools. Over time, physics
bachelors are often promoted into positions that involve managing
projects, people, and budgets.
What do physics
work primarily in science, engineering, and education, although
their occupations differ sharply by employment setting. Physics
masters are, in general, more likely than bachelors to be hired
into positions with supervisory responsibility and frequently use
advanced knowledge and technical skills to solve complex problems.
What do PhDs
There are about
35,000 physics PhDs in the workforce. Nearly half of physics PhDs
work in academia. Slightly less work in the private sector in corporate
labs conducting long-term research. About one-quarter of physics
PhDs work in Federally Funded Research and Development Centers,
government laboratories, or federal agencies with a scientific mission.
Most of these physicists are engaged in long-term research, but
a variety of other activities including management and policy formation
is also common.
of environment do physicists work in?
work in a team environment, regardless of their highest degree or
where they are employed. Even basic research at the PhD level is
typically a team effort. As your years of experience and degree
level increases, so does the likelihood that you will be supervising
In the private
sector, most physicists work in cross-disciplinary teams. These
commonly include engineers, materials scientists, chemists, computer
specialists, mathematicians, and administrators. These individuals
are brought together because of their unique perspectives and skills
to help solve a specific problem.
Within the autonomous
private sector (self-employed, consulting, and other small business),
many people with physics degrees report that they work independently.
However, this largely reflects the fact that the companies in which
they work are simply too small for a team environment. In this sector,
a significant amount of a physicist's time is usually devoted to
customer and client interaction.
do physicists use most frequently?
physics bachelors report that they are frequently engaged in problem
solving, typically complex technical problems. Interpersonal skills
are cited one of the most important skills as well since most physics
bachelors are involved with one or more of the following: working
in a team, supervising a team, working with customers and clients,
or interacting with students.
ability, management ability, and technical writing ability are other
skills physicists typically use.