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.
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 physicists and astronomers was $110,980 in May 2015.
Employment of physicists and astronomers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as 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, especially at colleges and universities and at national laboratories.
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Learn more about physicists and astronomers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.