How To Become A Physicist

why become a physicist
physicists do research in physics, and are concerned with all aspects of nature, at both the macroscopic and submicroscopic levels. physics is the science of energy, motion, and matter. physicists attempt to discover a unified set of laws governing energy, motion, and matter at all levels. physicists study the fundamental nature of the universe, from the smallest of subatomic particles to the vastness of space. based on their research, physicists develop theories to further understand how things work, contributing to real-world applications and innovation.

what do physicists do?
while the abovementioned explains what physicists do in general, they may perform specialized duties based on their expertise in various sub-fields of physics like:

  • plasma physics - these physicists study plasmas and may perform an essential role in the creation of fusion reactors, solving energy problems for the energy deficient.
  • atomic, molecular, and optical physics - these physicists study light, electrons, simple molecules, atoms, and their interactions. they may play an essential role in bringing a new revolution in miniaturization, computer technology, and new materials.
  • medical physics - these physicists work in the healthcare sector and develop new medical technologies like radiation-based treatments.
  • particle and nuclear physics - these physicists study the properties of atomic and subatomic particles, and the forces that cause their interaction.
  • astrophysics - astrophysicists study the physical properties of the universe. their work may overlap with the work of astronomers.
  • condensed matter physics - these physicists study the physical properties of solids and liquids.

how to become a physicist
most physicists hold a ph.d. in physics. the doctoral degree may take as long as 7 years to complete, if not longer. after graduation, physicists are hired as temporary postdoctoral research assistants, which may last as long as 3 years, if not longer.

personal attributes and qualities of physicists
the following are not guaranteed to make you a famous physicist; however, great physicists have possessed all or some of them:

  • writing skills
  • speaking skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • interpersonal skills
  • critical-thinking skills
  • analytical skills
  • advanced mathematical skills

who do physicists work for?
the us bureau of labor statistics (bls) reports that the majority of physicists are hired by companies that conduct research and development in life sciences, engineering, and physics. after them, the federal government is the biggest employer of physicists. the us department of defense and the national aeronautics and space administration (nasa) are the two biggest employers hiring thousands of physicists. some positions may require that applicants be an american citizen and hold a security clearance.

job outlook
the bls predicts the job growth rate for physicists to be 14% between 2010 and 2020, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. the bls also reports physicists with formal academic degrees and work experience earned in excess of $100,000 per year in 2010. if you are interested in the complexities of the universe and think that you have what it takes to become a successful physicist, then a bright future awaits you in the world of physics.


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