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Average Salary
$91,463
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
9%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
27,620
Job Openings

Research Physicist Careers

If you have a passion for physics and an even greater passion for research, the career of a research physicist is the right path to take. As a research physicist, you will conduct research on physical phenomena, create theories based on findings, and develop methods on how to apply physical laws and theories. In essence, you will get to use your background in physics and, more importantly, be able to expand your knowledge tenfold.

The specific job duties that this role entails usually include developing simulations, creating presentations, developing experimental designs, and maintaining research equipment.

Before you can become a fully-fledged research physicist, however, you have to have a master's or doctorate in physics. Of course, you also have to be proficient in research, presentation, and experimentation, which can usually come from prior research work in graduate school.

Now comes the fun part. On average, research physicists make around $91,000 per year, while some take home as much as $125,000.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a research physicist. For example, did you know that they make an average of $43.97 an hour? That's $91,463 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 9% and produce 1,900 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Research Physicist Do

There are certain skills that many research physicists have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed analytical skills, interpersonal skills and communication skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a research physicist, we found that a lot of resumes listed 18.2% of research physicists included data analysis, while 14.3% of resumes included phd, and 13.4% of resumes included laser. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the research physicist job title. But what industry to start with? Most research physicists actually find jobs in the manufacturing and technology industries.

How To Become a Research Physicist

If you're interested in becoming a research physicist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 49.7% of research physicists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 15.9% of research physicists have master's degrees. Even though most research physicists have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a research physicist. When we researched the most common majors for a research physicist, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or doctoral degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on research physicist resumes include master's degree degrees or license degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a research physicist. In fact, many research physicist jobs require experience in a role such as research assistant. Meanwhile, many research physicists also have previous career experience in roles such as graduate research assistant or research associate.

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Average Salary
$91,463
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
9%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
27,620
Job Openings

Research Physicist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Research Physicist

Top Careers After Research Physicist

Physicist
13.2 %

Research Physicist Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for a Research Physicist

Research Physicists in America make an average salary of $91,463 per year or $44 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $125,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $66,000 per year.
Average Salary
$91,463
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Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Gaithersburg, MD
Salary Range77k - 133k$102k$101,674
Coram, NY
Salary Range73k - 128k$98k$97,506
Boston, MA
Salary Range73k - 128k$97k$97,309
Berkeley, CA
Salary Range65k - 119k$88k$88,478
Minneapolis, MN
Salary Range63k - 108k$83k$82,600
Austin, TX
Salary Range60k - 109k$81k$81,246
$47k
$133k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Research Physicist or Engineer, Novel Mechanical Systems
Research Physicist or Engineer, Novel Mechanical Systems
SRI International
SRI International
03/27/2021
03/27/2021
$71,84703/27/2021
$71,847
Cryogenic R&D Physicist
Cryogenic R&D Physicist
Honeywell
Honeywell
03/20/2021
03/20/2021
$97,60003/20/2021
$97,600
Staff Research Physicist
Staff Research Physicist
The Trustees of Princeton University
The Trustees of Princeton University
02/09/2021
02/09/2021
$108,00002/09/2021
$108,000
Cryogenic R&D Physicist
Cryogenic R&D Physicist
Honeywell
Honeywell
01/22/2021
01/22/2021
$97,60001/22/2021
$97,600
Associate Research Physicist
Associate Research Physicist
The Trustees of Princeton University
The Trustees of Princeton University
01/20/2021
01/20/2021
$81,40501/20/2021
$81,405
See More Recent Salaries

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Research Physicist Demographics

Gender

male

73.3 %

female

15.1 %

unknown

11.6 %

Ethnicity

White

76.9 %

Asian

10.7 %

Black or African American

5.3 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

German

26.7 %

Spanish

20.0 %

Bulgarian

13.3 %
See More Demographics

Research Physicist Education

Majors

Physics
72.5 %

Degrees

Bachelors

49.7 %

Doctorate

31.2 %

Masters

15.9 %

Top Colleges for Research 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
See More Education Info

Online Courses For Research Physicist That You May Like

Complete Data Wrangling & Data Visualisation With Python
udemy
4.5
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Learn to Preprocess, Wrangle and Visualise Data For Practical Data Science Applications in Python...

Data Science: Data Mining & Natural Language Processing in R
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Harness the Power of Machine Learning in R for Data/Text Mining, & Natural Language Processing with Practical Examples...

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Top Skills For a Research 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, 18.2% of research physicists listed data analysis on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and interpersonal skills are important as well.

Best States For a Research Physicist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a research physicist. The best states for people in this position are Maryland, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. Research physicists make the most in Maryland with an average salary of $102,100. Whereas in Connecticut and North Carolina, they would average $101,355 and $100,760, respectively. While research physicists would only make an average of $99,502 in Rhode Island, 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. Rhode Island

Total Research Physicist Jobs:
145
Highest 10% Earn:
$165,000
Location Quotient:
1.56
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Pennsylvania

Total Research Physicist Jobs:
1,264
Highest 10% Earn:
$159,000
Location Quotient:
1.42
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Connecticut

Total Research Physicist Jobs:
273
Highest 10% Earn:
$168,000
Location Quotient:
1.08
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Research Physicist Employers

1. University of California Press
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$74,635
Research Physicists Hired: 
30+
2. NAVAL Research Lab
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$68,917
Research Physicists Hired: 
13+
3. Oak Ridge National Laboratory
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$69,921
Research Physicists Hired: 
10+
4. SRI International
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$83,099
Research Physicists Hired: 
9+
5. Indian Health Service
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$52,216
Research Physicists Hired: 
5+
6. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$118,445
Research Physicists Hired: 
4+
Updated October 2, 2020