Physicists are scientists researching the mysteries of energy and matter. They conduct experiments to challenge existing theories and arrive at new conclusions through their investigations.

As a physicist, you will probe the wonders of the universe by simulating and observing physical phenomena, analyzing research results, and creating reports on your discoveries. You might develop models to illustrate your findings using computer design and publish your processes and results in articles featured in academic papers.

Your job is to develop new theories and define laws based on the outcome of your experiments. Various industries will use your results to improve their products, such as nuclear energy plants, aerospace technology developments, optics, and many more.

What Does a Physicist Do

Physicists and astronomers study the ways in which various forms of matter and energy interact. Theoretical physicists and astronomers may study the nature of time or the origin of the universe. Some physicists design and perform experiments with sophisticated equipment such as particle accelerators, electron microscopes, and lasers.

Learn more about what a Physicist does

How To Become a Physicist

Physicists and astronomers typically need a Ph.D. for jobs in research and academia. However, physicist jobs in the federal government typically require a bachelor’s degree in physics. After receiving a Ph.D. in physics or astronomy, many researchers seeking careers in academia begin in temporary postdoctoral research positions.

Learn More About How To Become a Physicist

Physicist Career Paths

Average Salary for a Physicist

Physicists in America make an average salary of $110,869 per year or $53 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $180,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $68,000 per year.
Average Physicist Salary
$110,869 Yearly
$53.30 hourly
$68,000
10 %
$110,000
Median
$180,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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How To Become a Physicist
How To Become a Physicist Career Overview

States With The Most Physicist Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active physicist jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where physicists earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Physicist Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
1Texas45$99,073
2California39$105,343
3Massachusetts32$121,013
4Florida32$102,369
5Colorado23$100,943
6Georgia19$106,699
7Illinois19$86,091
8Maryland18$123,444
9Michigan18$86,559
10New York17$130,066
11Pennsylvania17$116,652
12Wisconsin16$111,443
13Virginia16$75,436
14Tennessee12$109,257
15Ohio12$107,894
16Minnesota12$105,730
17Arizona11$103,862
18New Jersey11$101,174
19New Mexico10$123,429
20Washington10$101,136
21West Virginia8$121,409
22South Carolina6$105,864
23Utah6$101,616
24North Carolina5$124,164
25Idaho5$96,489
26Mississippi5$71,008
27Oregon5$78,823
28Oklahoma4$115,422
29Alabama4$111,316
30New Hampshire3$129,915
31Connecticut3$134,689
32Alaska3$116,239
33Wyoming2$109,415
34Rhode Island2$111,734
35Arkansas2$111,702
36North Dakota2$104,552
37Nevada2$107,929
38Iowa2$96,713
39Indiana2$82,244
40Nebraska2$71,347
41Louisiana2$65,485
42Delaware1$110,028
43South Dakota1$99,834
44Montana1$102,507
45Maine1$100,800
46Missouri1$99,944
47Kentucky1$96,711
48Kansas1$90,846
49Hawaii1$85,725
50Vermont0$116,179

Physicist Education

Physicist Majors

66.6 %

Physicist Degrees

Bachelors

53.3 %

Masters

25.5 %

Doctorate

17.5 %

Top Colleges for Physicists

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

2. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

3. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

4. Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,453
Enrollment
4,312

5. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,184
Enrollment
30,845

6. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA • Private

In-State Tuition
$17,653
Enrollment
16,405

7. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

8. Brown University

Providence, RI • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,466
Enrollment
6,752

9. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

10. Tufts University

Medford, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,382
Enrollment
5,597

Top Skills For a Physicist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 14.2% of physicists listed patients on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

  • Patients, 14.2%
  • Radiology, 9.3%
  • Oncology, 8.8%
  • Radiation Safety, 6.0%
  • Radiation Therapy, 5.9%
  • Other Skills, 55.8%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Physicist Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Physicist templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Physicist resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Physicist Resume
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Physicist Resume
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Physicist Demographics

Physicist Gender Distribution

Male
Male
84%
Female
Female
16%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among physicists, 16.1% of them are women, while 83.9% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among physicists is White, which makes up 77.9% of all physicists.

  • The most common foreign language among physicists is French at 14.0%.

Work Experience Programs For Physicists

Virtual work experience programs replicate work at top companies and help you gain the skills to be successful when applying and working there. In only a few hours, learn the relevant tools necessary to complete a typical work day at that company. Virtual work experience programs are 100% free, open-access, and self-paced. No experience or application is required!

Data Visualisation: Empowering Business with Effective Insights Program

Company: Tata

Cost: Free

Duration: 3.5-4.5 hours

Data Analytics Program

Company: Quantium

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Data Analytics Program

Company: General Electric

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Marketing Analysis Program

Company: Wayfair

Cost: Free

Duration: 3 hours

Data Analytics and Visualization Program

Company: Accenture North America

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Data Analytics Program

Company: KPMG AU

Cost: Free

Duration: 2-3 hours

Data Science Program

Company: Standard Bank

Cost: Free

Duration: 4 hours

Online Courses For Physicist That You May Like

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Best States For a Physicist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a physicist. The best states for people in this position are Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. Physicists make the most in Connecticut with an average salary of $134,689. Whereas in New York and New Hampshire, they would average $130,066 and $129,915, respectively. While physicists would only make an average of $124,164 in North Carolina, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. West Virginia

Total Physicist Jobs:
8
Highest 10% Earn:
$191,000
Location Quotient:
3.11

2. New Mexico

Total Physicist Jobs:
10
Highest 10% Earn:
$189,000
Location Quotient:
3.03

3. New Hampshire

Total Physicist Jobs:
3
Highest 10% Earn:
$206,000
Location Quotient:
1.02
Full List Of Best States For Physicists

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Top Physicist Employers

Most Common Employers For Physicist

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Loma Linda University Health$174,307$83.8012
2Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center$171,219$82.3220
3Mayo Clinic$169,980$81.7211
4Massachusetts General Hospital$137,900$66.3017
5Applied Materials$136,276$65.5222
6Johns Hopkins University$125,185$60.1929
7Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory$123,076$59.1722
8WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA$121,491$58.4114
9General Electric$115,583$55.5710
10Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies (sgt)$113,772$54.7010

Physicist Videos