The Complete Physics Career Guide

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Physics CareersPhysics is the study of how the world works. Physicists observe the universe and all things in it, from atoms to stars, to find patterns in the way things work. They have the privilege of learning about astronomy, energy, friction, motion, gravity, force, and much more, all in an effort to improve the scientific community at large.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that physics careers are going to grow significantly in the next few years, making this a perfect time to be a part of this profession. If you have been trying to choose a branch of science to go into, definitely keep this in mind.

BestOnlineCollege.org has compiled a list of physics career resources from across the web you may use to research this profession. Read on to determine if this is the career for you.

Table of Contents

Physics Education

Before you can determine if physics is the field for you, you need to understand the education required for it. You may also want to get a general idea of the job duties that come along with a career in physics. The American Institute of Physics has a great list of companies that hire physics graduates, but that list will only be useful after some career research. Check out the links below to learn more:

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Acoustics

Acoustics is the study of sound. It is a sector of physics often associated with the military and private job sectors to improve ultrasound technology, noise control technology, music, SONAR, and more. If you are interested in learning about the sounds around you, this is the right field for you. Here are some resources to get you better acquainted with this field.

  • What is Acoustics?: This is a publication from Brigham Young University that provides a general definition of what the study of acoustics really is.
  • Career Information: This is a resource from the Acoustical Society of America. It discusses the work involved with this career and how acoustics apply to the real world.
  • Career Opportunities: This is an article from Acoustics.org that explains how to find and maintain a career in the field of acoustics.

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Applied Physics

Applied physics involves the application of physics principals, not the study of physics itself. This field combines engineering, science, and advanced mathematics, which is why it is sometimes referred to as engineering physics. Specialties in this sector include photonics, quantum electronics, and other aspects of technology. Here are some resources related to the field of applied physics.

  • What is Applied Physics?: This is a publication from NTNU that offers some background information about applied physics. The information describes what this field is and what it takes to work in the career.
  • Career Information: This is a publication from California State University Channel Islands. It provides an overview of the applied physics career, and it lists common salaries for workers in this field.
  • Career Opportunities: This is a publication from Columbia University that recommends careers for applied physics majors in college.

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Astrophysics

Astrophysics is the study of physics as it applies to the universe. It focuses on high-energy particles, gravitational fields, or celestial objects that can be found in the field of astronomy. People in this field must understand concepts like electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics. To learn more about astrophysics, check out the links below:

  • What is Astrophysics?: This is a simple article from PhysicsToday.org that explains what this career field entails and how you may go about getting involved with it.
  • Career Information: this is a career summary from O*Net Online that highlights important facts about working in astrophysics.
  • Career Opportunities: This is an astrophysics job board that comes from the American Astronomical Society.

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Condensed Matter Physics

Condensed matter physics, also known as solid-state physics, is the study of materials in different states. This field encompasses nearly 1/3 of the physics jobs available in America, and it often involves working with crystalline materials and conductors. Here are some great resources to help you understand this career a little better:

  • What is Condensed Matter Physics?: This is a publication from Iowa State University that explains what CMP is and how it is broken up into different subsections.
  • Career Information: This is a career summary from PhysicsToday.org that explains what it is like to work in this profession.
  • Career Opportunities: This is a great resource from the American Physical Society’s Division of Condensed Matter Physics that explains how to get started in this line of work.

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Geophysics

Geophysics is the study of earth through an exploration of physics principles. Geophysicists often study the movement, size, and shape of the earth, as well as the movement of elements within it. Some people in this profession work in other areas of earth science before moving into geophysics. Here are some resources that may help you understand this career field a little better:

  • What is Geophysics?: This is an article from PhysicsToday.org that explains what this field is and how it complements other areas of physics.
  • Career Information: This article from the American Geophysical Union explains what geophysicists and other earth scientists do on a day to day basis.
  • Career Opportunities: This is a publication from the U.S. Geological Survey that explains what it takes to become a geophysicist.

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Medical Physics

Medical physics is a branch of physics that overlaps into the medical field. It involves the studies of molecular oncology, biophysics, nanotechnology, diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and more. Medical physics is responsible for the development of many medical instruments, and it is often the spark of new technology in the field. Here are some helpful resources related to medical physics:

  • What is Medical Physics?: This is a publication from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine that goes over the basics of medical physics, including information about careers in this field.
  • Career Information: This is an extensive resource from the American College of Radiology that explains the day to day work of a medical physicist.
  • Career Opportunities: This is an article from PhysicsToday.org that describes the careers associated with medical physics.

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Nuclear Physics

Nuclear physics is the study of interactions between atomic particles. The main focus of this career field is to understand and use the energy released by unstable nuclei during atomic interactions. Studies from this career are commonly used for medical radiation therapy and power production. Here are some resources to help you understand nuclear physics a little better:

  • What is Nuclear Physics?: This is a publication from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Physics. It explains what this career is and how it is impacting other scientific studies in the modern world.
  • Career Information: This is an article from the American Nuclear Society that goes over the work of an average nuclear physicist.
  • Career Opportunities: This is a resource from the Nuclear Energy Institute to see that describes the different careers you can go through in nuclear physics.

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Optics

Optics is a branch of physics that studies light and electromagnetic radiation. It is most known for its applications in fiber-optics and laser technology. Here are some great resources to explain this career a little better:

  • What is Optics?: This is a publication from the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center that explains the study of optics in detail.
  • Career Information: This is a special article from the University of Arizona’s College of Optics that helps students determine if they would work well in the field of optics. t
  • Career Opportunities: This is a resource from the Optical Society of America that has an up-to-date list of optics and photonics jobs around the globe. This site also features a podcast explaining how students can advance their careers in optics.

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Particle Physics

Particle physics, also known as high-energy physics, is the study of the fundamentals of matter and elementary particles. This field is often considered the leading frontier of theoretical physics, and it is growing in importance with each passing year. Here are some resources to help you grasp this concept a little better:

  • What is Particle Physics?: This is an article from the Fermilab Science Education Office that offers a simple introduction to the field of particle physics.
  • Career Information: This is a publication from PhysicsToday.org that highlights the job duties and positions available for people in particle physics.
  • Career Opportunities: This is a resource from the University of Adelaide in Australia. It has a great list of links for people seeking jobs in particle physics.

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Other Specialties

There are plenty of other physics specialties to explore if you do not like the ones listed above. Check out some of these career profiles, courtesy of PhysicsJobs.org and the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center:

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