Physicists and astronomers explore the dimensions of the universe… from the vastness of intergalactic space… to minute subatomic particles. They study the ways different forms of matter and energy interact. Physicists explore the laws that govern space and time. They may focus on theoretical areas like how the universe was formed, or take a more practical direction such as developing laser surgery technology. Astronomers study planets, stars, and other celestial bodies. Using telescopes and space-based equipment, their research may examine our own solar system, or aim at distant galaxies. Most physicists and astronomers work full time, often on teams with engineers and other scientists. They are employed by higher education institutions, scientific research and development organizations, and the federal government— especially NASA and the Department of Defense. Some need to apply for research grants to fund their work. Astronomers and physicists do most of their work in offices. Astronomers visit observatories occasionally as data from observations has become widely available via the Internet. Some physics experiments require particle accelerators or nuclear reactors, but most research is conducted in smaller laboratories. Research and academic positions require a Ph.D. A master’s degree qualifies candidates for most positions in manufacturing and healthcare. The Federal government employs scientists with degrees ranging from a bachelor’s to a Ph.D., depending on the position and agency.
What they do:
Conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories.
On the job, you would:
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.
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Engineering and Technology
product and service development
computers and electronics
Arts and Humanities
Education and Training
teaching and course design
using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems
reading work related information
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
add, subtract, multiply, or divide
read and understand what is written
communicate by speaking
Ideas and Logic
come up with lots of ideas
create new and original ideas
quickly know what you are looking at
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Analytical or scientific software
CERN Physics Analysis Workstation PAW
The MathWorks MATLAB
Development environment software
Microsoft Visual Basic
National Instruments LabVIEW
Object or component oriented development software
Practical extraction and reporting language Perl
doctoral degree or post-doctoral training usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.