Physicist - What They Do

Physicists conduct theoretical and applied research to extend knowledge of natural phenomena and to develop new processes and devices in fields such as electronics, communications, power generation and distribution, aerodynamics, optics and lasers, remote sensing, biotechnology, medicine and health. They are employed by electronic, electrical and aerospace manufacturing companies, telecommunications companies, power utilities, university and government research laboratories, hospitals and by a wide range of other processing, manufacturing, and research and consulting firms. Astronomers conduct observational and theoretical research to extend knowledge of the universe. They are employed by government and universities.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Physicists
  • Design and conduct research in experimental and theoretical physics
  • Carry out analysis of research data and prepare research reports
  • Participate as a member of a research or development team in the design and development of experimental, industrial or medical equipment, instrumentation and procedures.
  • Physicists may specialize in fields such as aeronomy and space, acoustics, atomic and molecular physics, biophysics, condensed matter or solid state physics, electromagnetics, fluids and aerodynamics, health physics, medical physics, metrology, particle physics, optics and laser physics, nuclear physics and plasma physics.
  • Astronomers
  • Design and conduct observational surveys, conduct detailed analyses and develop numerical models to extend knowledge of celestial bodies and cosmic radiation
  • Develop or participate in the development of instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis.
  • Astronomers may specialize in fields such as astrophysics, observational or optical astronomy and radio astronomy.

Job titles

  • solid-state physicist
  • acoustics physicist
  • aerodynamicist
  • astronomer
  • astrophysicist
  • biophysicist
  • cosmologist
  • experimental physicist
  • health physicist
  • medical physicist
  • metrologist
  • nuclear physicist
  • optics physicist
  • plasma physicist
  • radio astronomer
  • research scientist, aerospace
  • research scientist, electronics
  • research scientist, physics
  • research scientist, remote sensing
  • atmospheric physicist
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Physicists usually require a master's or doctoral degree in a field of physics, engineering physics, or in a related discipline.
  • Astronomers usually require a master's or doctoral degree in astronomy or in a related discipline.

Essential Skills

Working with Technological Equipment and Machinery

  • Using Specialized Instrumentation and Equipment


  • Planning
  • Analyzing Information
  • Researching and Investigating


  • Professional Communicating
  • Advising and Consulting

Creative Expression

  • Writing