What Physicists and Astronomers 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.
Physicists and astronomers spend much of their time working in offices, but they also conduct research in laboratories and observatories. Most physicists and astronomers work full time.
How to Become a Physicist or Astronomer
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.
The median annual wage for astronomers was $100,590 in May 2017.The median annual wage for physicists was $118,830 in May 2017.
Overall employment of physicists and astronomers is projected to grow 14 percent by 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Federal government spending for physics and astronomy research is not likely to grow as in past years, and this will dampen the need for physicists and astronomers at institutions heavily dependent on such funding.