If you’re looking for a career with the potential to make an impact on the world, there are few better options than physics.
It’s not just about making the next great invention or curing cancer – it’s also about using physics to improve our lives in ways we never knew were possible.
Even if you don’t want to be a physicist, understanding some of the most fundamental principles of this science can help build your knowledge base and provide insights into how all other sciences work.
To help you get started on your journey as a physicist, here are 10 jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree in physics:
#1 – Physics Teacher
No matter your level of expertise, you can share it with others by becoming a physics teacher.
Many schools have programs that allow physics majors to teach at the high school or college level.
You’ll need a great deal of patience to explain complex concepts clearly, but once you find the right way to explain something, you’ll see your students’ eyes light up with understanding.
If you enjoy teaching kids and want to help develop young minds, this is a great first job that will teach you valuable lessons about working in teams and communicating effectively.
In the U.S., physics teachers make between $35,000 to $60,000 per year.
Physics teachers may also be able to earn more with a post-secondary degree or teaching certificate.
#2 – Physicist
Physicists look at the world around us and seek to make sense of it through equations, theories, and experiments.
Their research deals with everything from subatomic particles to black holes and beyond.
Colleges or universities employ most physicists as researchers, but some reach higher levels of government or work in tech companies and are in charge of entire departments.
Particle physicists, astrophysicists, and cosmologists are the most likely to have high-level positions.
If you’re starting in research as a physicist, you may be asked to find solutions to problems given by other researchers or present your ideas for approaching new kinds of research.
This can be a highly competitive field where you might have the opportunity to travel around the country or world as part of your work.
Physicists in the U.S. make between $98,000 and $151,000 per year.
#3 – Astronomer
While many think astronomers are concerned only with astronomy (the study of stars and other celestial bodies), it’s also part of physics.
An astronomer may specialize in fields like planetary sciences or heliophysics, which deal directly with the Sun and its interaction with Earth.
Most astronomers work at colleges or universities, and some also work for NASA or other government agencies where they may be required to travel extensively.
Sometimes astronomers are asked to consult with businesses and design projects related to space exploration, such as new telescopes.
If you’re thinking of studying astronomy, it’s a good idea to have a broad base of scientific knowledge in addition to your specialty.
Those who work in astronomy or physics fields outside of the classroom may be asked to write papers, speak at conferences, and fulfill other duties related to research and teaching.
In the U.S., astronomers earn between $41,000 – $176,000 a year, depending on the level of education and job title.
#4 – Medical Physicist
Medical physicists specialize in helping researchers, doctors, and other health care professionals understand the ways radiation affects living things.
They design equipment to measure radiation doses and even help astronauts train for space travel.
Most medical physicists have a Ph.D. or master’s degree in physics before working as a medical physicist. Still, there are entry-level jobs available that require only an associate’s degree in the field.
Medical physicists who work with patients may work directly in hospitals or medical labs, often working closely with doctors and nurses to ensure the safety of their patients.
As the field of medical physics progresses, you might work to develop new methods for delivering radiation therapy or come up with ways to use magnetic resonance or nuclear imaging to detect disease.
Because your work deals directly with patients’ bodies and well-being, you’ll need a dedication to learning everything you can about the effects of radiation and how they can measure them.
Salary varies for medical physicists depending on job responsibilities and level of education but can range from $52,000 to over $100,000 annually.
#5 – Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers develop and design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and rocket systems.
You may work in industry or for the government; either way, you’ll need to have a strong engineering background along with your specialized degree.
Engineering studies involve math and science classes that will prepare you for advanced degrees in aerospace engineering.
If you’re already working as an engineer and want to focus on aerospace engineering, specialize in jet propulsion or thermodynamics for the best results.
You may need a master’s degree to work as an aerospace engineer, but there are opportunities for breaking into the field with a bachelor’s degree as well.
Depending on where you work, your salary could range from $88,000 to over $150,000 a year.
#6 – Computational Physicist
Computational physicists use computers and advanced techniques to model physical processes like supernovas or the collisions of subatomic particles.
Some computational physicists are also theorists who develop new models and theories to explain the results of experiments.
Like many fields in physics, computational physics is broad enough to have several subspecialties, such as plasma or solid-state theory.
You may develop mathematical models to represent physical systems on a computer, create computer models of natural systems, gather information about how things work, or use a supercomputer to perform calculations that humans can’t.
You need substantial mathematical, advanced physics, and computer science skills for a computational physics degree program, so you may want to get a degree in these areas before attending graduate school.
The salary varies depending on your experience level and employer but could range from $68,000 to $170,000 or more a year.
#7 – Geophysicist
Geophysicists study the Earth and its atmosphere better to understand its structure, movement, and composition.
You’ll use physics principles to gather information using seismic waves, measure gravity at specific locations on Earth, or analyze images from satellites in space.
You may work for a government agency like the U.S. Geological Survey or an energy or mining company.
You may need a master’s degree, but entry-level jobs exist for those with bachelor’s degrees in geophysics.
Salary often depends on your employer and experience level, but you could earn between $30,000 and $120,000 annually.
#8 – Research Scientist
A research scientist is an individual who researches as part of a team to improve, modify or develop products (which can be anything from food to clothing to electronics) or processes (such as manufacturing) for the benefit of society.
For example, a research scientist might work for a fashion designer to create new types of cloth that are more aesthetically pleasing and durable than older ones.
More specifically, a research scientist usually specializes in several subfields, including primary (or pure) research, applied research and development, or theory verification.
Research scientists may use several different techniques to conduct their work, such as experiments or analytical methods.
For example, they might use the process of spectroscopy to identify elements in a particular material by determining its chemical or physical properties.
Research scientists can earn an income of around $75,000 to $120,000 per year.
#9 – Lab Manager
A lab manager is an individual who works at a laboratory by either helping run or manages that facility’s day-to-day operations.
Lab managers might be tasked with hiring research assistants, keeping track of the facility’s finances, inventory supplies, and equipment, or developing new methods for conducting scientific research.
They may also work with customers and clients to ensure they are satisfied with the offered services.
To be a successful lab manager, you should have excellent leadership and interpersonal skills and a strong science background.
Depending on your facility’s size, you might oversee anywhere from 3 to 15 people (scientists or assistants).
Salaries for lab managers can vary greatly, but the top earners in the field make around $80,000 to $100,000 per year.
#10 – Research Assistant
A research assistant is an individual who assists a scientist in conducting scientific experiments or other types of research.
To do so, they must have excellent interpersonal and communications skills, as well as a solid scientific background.
Research assistants may be tasked with gathering data such as measurements, information, or notes on experiments, and they are responsible for keeping accurate records of this data.
Experiment design is another essential part of a research assistant’s job because they must make sure all protocols (the scientists’ guidelines to follow) are followed correctly.
A research assistant can expect to earn anywhere from $20,000 – $100,000 per year depending upon experience and the type of work they do (medical institutions usually offer the highest salaries).
If you are looking to find a job in the field of physics, there is something for everyone.
Whether it’s researching at a lab or analyzing data, there are plenty of careers available that offer good salaries and flexibility.