rapid Facts: Physicists and Astronomers 2020 median Pay common Entry-Level Education work Experience in a related Occupation On-the-job Training variety of Jobs, 2020 task Outlook, 2020-30 employed Change, 2020-30
$128,950 every year$62.00 every hour
Doctoral or expert degree
8% (As quick as average)

What Physicists and Astronomers carry out

Physicists and astronomers examine the interactions of matter and also energy.

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job-related Environment

Physicists and also astronomers might work in offices, research laboratories, and also observatories. Most physicists and also astronomers work complete time, andsome work much more than 40 hrs per week.

exactly how to end up being a Physicist or Astronomer

Physicists and astronomers commonly need a Ph.D. For work in research and also academia. However, entry-level physicist work in the federal government typically require a bachelor’s level in physics.


The median yearly wage for astronomers was $119,730 in may 2020.

The median annual wage because that physicists was $129,850 in may 2020.

task Outlook

Overall employmentof physicists and also astronomers is projected to grow 8 percent indigenous 2020 to 2030, around as rapid as the mean for all occupations.

around 1,500 openings for physicists and astronomers room projected every year, ~ above average, end the decade. Countless of those openings room expected to result from the must replace workers who carry to different occupations or exit the job force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

explore resources because that employment and also wages by state and also area because that physicists and astronomers.

comparable Occupations

to compare the job duties, education, job growth, and also pay of physicists and astronomers with comparable occupations.

much more Information, including Links come O*NET

Learn an ext about physicists and astronomers through visiting added resources, including O*NET, a resource on vital characteristics the workers and also occupations.


Physicists and astronomers research the interaction of matter and energy. Theoretical physicists and astronomers may study the nature that time or the origin of the universe. Some physicists design and perform experiment with sophisticated equipment together as fragment accelerators, electron microscopes, and also lasers.


Physicists and also astronomers generally do the following:

Develop scientific theories and also modelsto describe the nature of the herbal world, such as the pressure of heaviness or the development of subatomic particlesPlan and also conduct clinical experiments and studies to check theories and also discover properties of matter and energyWrite proposals and apply for study fundingDo mathematical calculations to analysis physical and also astronomical data, such as for brand-new material nature or the presence of planets in remote solar systemsDesign brand-new scientific equipment, such together telescopes and also lasersDevelop computer software come analyze and model dataWrite scientific records for publicationPresent study findings atconferences and also lectures

Physicists discover the fundamental properties and laws that govern space, time, energy, and matter. They may study theory, design and also perform experiments, or apply their expertise in developing materials or equipment.

Astronomers study planets, stars, and other celestial bodies. They use ground-based equipment, such as optical telescopes, and also space-based equipment, such together the Hubble space Telescope. Part astronomers study far-off galaxies and phenomena together as black holes and also neutron stars. Rather monitor room debris that might interfere with satellite operations.

Many physicists and astronomers work-related in used research. They use their expertise to develop an innovation or solve troubles in areas such as energy storage, electronics, communications, and also navigation. Others work in straightforward research to develop theories that explain principles such together what gravity is or just how the cosmos was formed.

Astronomers and also physicists typically work on research teams through engineers, technicians, and other scientists. An elderly astronomers and also physicists may assign jobs to other team members and monitor their progress. They also may must find and also apply for research funding.

Experimental physicists develop equipment or sensors to study properties that matter, create theories, and test theories v experiments. Theoretical and computational physicists construct concepts the predict nature of products or define unexplained results. Although every one of physics entails the same fundamental principles, physicists usually specialize in one of countless subfields. The adhering to are instances of physicist job titles:

Atomic, molecular, and also optical physicists study atoms, an easy molecules, electrons, and also light and also the interactions amongst them. Some look for methods to control the states of separation, personal, instance atoms, due to the fact that such control might allow for further miniaturization or might add toward developing brand-new materials or technology.

Computational physicistsstudy the use ofalgorithms, number analysis, and also datasets to check out the interaction in between theoretical and also experimental physics. They explore facility phenomena in atoms, molecules, plasmas, and also high-energy particles; problems in astrophysics; and also applied phenomena, such together traffic, the habits of oceans, and also biological dynamics.

Condensed matter and materials physicists research the physics properties of issue in molecules, nanostructures, or novel compounds. They research a wide variety of phenomena, such together superconductivity, fluid crystals, sensors, and also nanomachines.

Health physicists study the results of radiation ~ above people, communities, and the environment. They regulate the helpful use of radiation while protecting workers and also the public native potential risks posed by radiation.

Medical physicists job-related in healthcare and also use their expertise of physics to develop new medical technologies and radiation-based treatments. For example, some develop safer radiation therapies for cancer patients. Others construct improved imaging innovations for radiant energy, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound imaging.

Particle and nuclear physicists research the nature of atomic and also subatomic particles, such together quarks, electrons, and also nuclei and also the pressures that reason their interactions.

Plasma physicists examine plasmas, a unique state of issue that occur naturally in stars and interplanetary room and artificially in commodities such together neon signs and fluorescent lights. These physicists may study methods to create blend reactors as a potential energy source.

Quantum informationphysicistsstudy means to usage quantum objects, such as atoms and also photons, come probe info processing, computing, and cryptography. They emphasis on methods to use the fundamental nature of quantum mechanics and also its connected uncertainties.

Unlike physicists, astronomers can not experiment on their subjects, which are so far away that they can not be touch or connected with. Therefore, astronomers normally make observations or occupational on theory. Observational astronomers check out celestial objects and also collect data top top them. Theoretical astronomers analyze, model, and speculate around systems and also how lock work and evolve. The complying with are examples of astronomer project titles:

Cosmologists andextragalactic/galactic,planetary, and stellar astronomersstudy the creation, evolution, and possible futures of the universe and its galaxies,stars, planets, and also solar systems.These astronomers develop and test concepts, such together string theory and also dark-matter and dark-energy theories, and study models ofgalactic and stellar evolution, planetary formation, and also interactions between stars.

Optical and radio astronomers use optical, radio, and gravitational-wave telescopes to study the motions and also evolution of stars, galaxies, and also the larger scale framework of the universe.

Physicists also may work in interdisciplinary fields, such together biophysics, chemical physics, and geophysics. For an ext information, watch the profiles on biochemists and also biophysicists and also geoscientists.

People who have actually a elevator in physics or astronomy likewise may come to be professors or teachers. For more information, see the profiles on high institution teachers and postsecondary teachers.


Astronomers held about 2,100 work in 2020. The largest employers of astronomers were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and also private 37%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 35
Federal government, not included postal service 24

Physicists held around 17,400 work in 2020. The largest employers the physicists were together follows:

Scientific research and advance services 31%
Federal government, not included postal service 20
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 20
Ambulatory medical care services 4

The scientific research and advance services industry consists of both private and federally funded nationwide laboratories, such together those overseen by the U.S. Room of Energy, the nationwide Aeronautics and an are Administration (NASA), and also the U.S. Department of landscape Security. In addition to NASA, various other federal agencies the employ physicists and astronomers incorporate the U.S. Room of Defense.

Although physics research regularly requires working in laboratories, physicists also spend time exterior of the lab to plan, analyze, fundraise, and report ~ above research.

Most astronomers work-related in offices and also occasionally visit observatories, buildings that residence ground-based telescopes provided to observe natural phenomenon and also gather data. Part astronomers work permanent in observatories.

Some physicists and also astronomers occupational temporarily at national or international framework that have distinct equipment, together as particle accelerators and gamma beam telescopes. They additionally travel to meetings to current research results and learn about developments in their field.

Work Schedules

Most physicists and also astronomers work full time, andsome work more than 40 hrs per week. Astronomers might need come do monitoring work in ~ night. However, astronomers generally visit observatories just a couple of times per year.


Physicists and astronomers commonly need a Ph.D. For tasks in research and also academia. However, physicist work in the commonwealth government frequently require a bachelor’s level in physics.


A Ph.D. In physics, astronomy, or a related ar is generally required for tasks in research study or academia.

Graduate students may concentrate in a subfield of physics or astronomy, such together condensed matter physics or cosmology. In addition to coursework in physics or astronomy, Ph.D. Students need to take process in math, such as calculus, straight algebra, and also statistics. Computer system science likewise may be helpful for emerging programs come gather, analyze, and also model data.

A bachelor’s degree in physics or a related ar is usually required to get in a graduate program in physics or astronomy. Undergraduate physics programs typically include process such as quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and also electromagnetism.

Undergraduate students may pick to finish an internship to gain hands-on experience. TheAmerican Astronomical culture has a magazine of internships for astronomy students, and theAmerican Physical culture lists internships because that physics students.

Jobseekers witha bachelor’s degree in physics usually room qualified to work-related as technicians and research assistants in connected fields, such as engineering and computer science. Those through a bachelor’s degree in astronomy also may qualify to job-related as one assistant at an observatory. Students who carry out not want to proceed their researches to the doctoral level may want come take courses in instrument building and computer science.

Master’s degree and also bachelor’s level holders may be eligible because that jobsin the commonwealth government. Rather may end up being science teachers in middle schools or high schools.


Physics and astronomy Ph.D. Holders who seek employment as researcher may start their careers in a postdoctoral study position, frequently for 2 to 3 years. Senior scientists supervise these researcher as they acquire experience and also independence doing increasingly complex tasks.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Physicists and astronomers have to evaluate their work and the work of others to stop errors that could invalidate their research.

Communication skills. Physicists and also astronomers current their research study at conferences, to the public, and to others. They additionally write technical reports because that publication and write suggest for study funding.

Critical-thinking skills. Physicists and also astronomers must think logically in delivering out scientific experiments and studies. Castle must recognize whether results and conclusions space accurate.

Interpersonal skills. Physicists and astronomers need to collaborate v others and also therefore must work well through team members and also colleagues.

Math skills. Physicists and also astronomersdo calculations including calculus, geometry, algebra, and other areas of math. They must express their research in math terms.

Problem-solving skills. Physicists and astronomers use clinical observation and analysis, as well as creative thinking, to resolve problems. Because that example, they might need come redesign your approach and also find choices when an experiment or theory stops working to develop the desired result.

Self-discipline. Physicists and also astronomers should be motivated, due to the fact that their work might require them to focus on large datasets for lengthy periods.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some positions v the federal government, such as those entailing nuclear energy, may require applicants to it is in U.S. Citizens and hold a defense clearance.

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With experience, physicists and astronomers may obtain greater self-reliance in their work and development to senior positions. Experience likewise may bring about tenure because that those in university positions. Part physicists and also astronomers advance to become natural scientific researches managers.