13 Jobs in Physics (With Salary Information and Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Physics is a scientific discipline that focuses on energy and matter. There is an array of physics jobs ranging from teaching to meteorology. Whether you have a degree in physics or are interested in studying this area, learning more about different roles related to physics could help you find your ideal career. In this article, we look at some of the most popular jobs in physics, their average national salaries and their primary duties.

13 jobs in physics

Below you can find a list of 13 jobs in physics:

1. Physics teacher

National average salary: $88,856 per year

Primary duties: Physics teachers typically work in secondary school settings, teaching children from age 11 to 18. The topics they teach may include electricity, space, heat and light. A physics teacher's role is to essentially provide students with a full knowledge spectrum of the subject. They may create collaborative lessons, provide individual instructions for students and assess their learning progress.

Related: 8 Rewarding Careers in Science to Consider (With Benefits)

2. University lecturer

National average salary: $105,929 per year

Primary duties: University lecturers teach students in tertiary education institutions. Instead of being completely involved in the student's learning process like at secondary school, lecturers instead give students information and invite them to discuss different points. Their duties may involve creating lectures or lessons, assigning exams and evaluating students. A lecturer is typically a job with favourable working hours and opportunities to take time off for academic research.

3. Meteorologist

National average salary: $89,423 per year

Primary duties: Meteorologists usually study weather patterns to forecast what the weather could be like in the coming days or weeks. Meteorological predictions are useful to a range of industries, including aviation, agriculture, insurance and fishing. Meteorologists also communicate weather reports to the general public through media outlets. Meteorologists typically study satellite images, weather stations and radars to collect data. Using this data, they may make predictions about the coming weather. They may then present this information to others. Meteorologists may also study climate change and other environmental factors.

Related: How to Become a Meteorologist: Your Ultimate Guide

4. Technical author

National average salary: $123,151 per year

Primary duties: Technical authors generally write information about specific products, often in the form of instruction manuals. Usually, these products are technology-focused. For example, they may be instructions on how to use a particular software or hardware. Various science-based sectors employ technical authors, such as automotive, aerospace, construction and manufacturing.

5. Design engineer

National average salary: $95,579 per year

Primary duties: Design engineers typically work across industries to develop and create blueprints for new products. They may also improve existing products using similar concepts. Engineers may work with software, machinery and other materials and use CAD, CAM and CAN systems to create their designs.

6. Research engineer

National average salary: $84,430 per year

Primary duties: Research engineers usually work in the initial stages of an engineering project. Through laboratory and office research, they may find the correct method and material to use for a specific technology or application. These engineers may then document these findings to other engineers who work on the project at a later stage. They often do this by creating presentations, writing reports or summaries or making guidelines for the project.

7. Software engineer

National average salary: $97,370 per year

Primary duties: Software engineers generally design and create different software concepts, such as applications or computer games. They're often involved in the entire creation of particular software and may work alone or as part of a team. Some software engineers may have a specialisation in a specific area of software, for example, CMS systems to databases, and may focus on those areas during software development.

8. Process engineer

National average salary: $95,073 per year

Primary duties: Process engineers commonly oversee, design and development processes for the creation, extraction or transportation of food, drinks, gas and oil. They may also analyse the workflow to see how systems can operate in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. Process engineers may work within a manufacturing company and improve their systems.

9. Electronics engineer

National average salary: $86,603 per year

Primary duties: Electronics engineering is typically linked to physics and can be a popular vocation for physics graduates. Professionals in this discipline may design, create and test any devices, equipment or systems that use electricity. Candidates can be employed across a variety of sectors, as many industries generally use electricity.

10. Forensic scientist

National average salary: $93,950 per year

Primary duties: Forensic scientists analyse evidence from a crime scene in laboratories, using complex investigative methods to find out more information about the crime. They may analyse surfaces for fingerprints or other samples taken from the crime scene. These scientists then create reports based on their findings and present these reports to courts, using scientific explanations to justify their findings.

Related: 19 Forensic Careers to Consider (With Salary and Job Info)

11. Data analyst

National average salary: $91,053 per year

Primary duties: Data analysts usually review and analyse data that their business has collected. They often use this data to make suggestions to the business to help them make decisions for the future. These decisions can help them to boost sales or reduce costs, effectively enabling them to boost profits and succeed as a business.

12. Metallurgist

National average salary: $129,425 per year

Primary duties: A metallurgist typically analyses different metals and uses their findings to recommend them for different products. Metallurgists can work in all stages of the creation of new products, including the design, manufacture and quality control. Often, candidates specialise as either a chemical, physical or process metallurgist, each of which has slightly different responsibilities.

Related: How to Become a Metallurgist (Qualifications and Skills)

13. Scientist

National average salary: $87,333 per year

Primary duties: A scientist can expect to work in a laboratory to design new processes and technology. A range of sectors, from government operations to universities, may employ them. This can be a highly academic role, with professionals working on research papers or presentations to portray their ideas to other people.

Skills for physics careers

People working in physics usually have a range of different skills. These can vary across professions. Here are some of them:

Information technology (IT)

Many physics professionals typically have skills in information technology (IT). They may use various types of software throughout their work. For example, meteorologists may use weather-mapping programs to accurately predict the weather. Many physics professionals may also use IT to gather information in spreadsheets, create presentations and communicate with colleagues.

Writing

Good writing skills can be useful for physics professionals for several reasons. While physics careers are typically science-based, professionals often write reports detailing their findings or converse with colleagues via email. Teachers or lecturers may create presentations and worksheets and mark essays, communicating effectively with students in the process.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is typically an important soft skill for people working a science-based vocation. Often, professionals may notice small details which could impact an overall result. This is common in jobs like engineering, where candidates create machinery and structures, and forensic science where professionals use their skills to discover information about crimes.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is generally a useful skill for physics professionals as they may use their physics expertise to solve various problems which can help with their overall work quality. For example, a metallurgist may use problem-solving skills when analysing different metals to find the most suitable type for a particular product. An engineer may encounter problems when creating blueprints for a new structure and use problem-solving skills to overcome them.

Communication

Communication can be a beneficial skill for these professionals as they may work within a team of people and be required to give instructions in both technical and non-technical terms. Teachers and lecturers typically have excellent communication skills, as they may instruct an entire class or large group of people. They may also have strong interpersonal and public speaking skills, speaking in a way that interests the particular group.

Responsibility

Working in a physics profession can typically be a highly responsible role. Physics roles often have responsibility for tasks that aid people's safety and welfare. For example, forensic scientists help to catch criminals and engineers ensure that structures are safe for public use.

Time management

Time management can be a useful skill for physics professionals to practice. Engineers, scientists and teachers may have time management skills. For example, engineers may balance their time on-site monitoring the construction of a certain project with time in the office consulting with other professionals. Teachers may balance marking papers and lesson planning with teaching.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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