2017 Physicists and Astronomers
Median Pay: US$110,980
Entry Level: Doctoral or professional degree
Summary
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.
Duties

Physicists and astronomers typically do the following:

  • Develop scientific theories and models that attempt to explain the properties of the natural world, such as the force of gravity or the formation of atoms
  • Plan and conduct scientific experiments and studies to test theories and discover properties of matter and energy
  • Write proposals and apply for research grants
  • Do complex mathematical calculations to analyze physical and astronomical data, such as data that may indicate the existence of planets in distant solar systems
  • Design new scientific equipment, such as telescopes and lasers
  • Develop computer software to analyze and model data
  • Write scientific papers that may be published in scholarly journals
  • Present research findings at scientific conferences and lectures

Physicists explore the fundamental properties and laws that govern space, time, energy, and matter. Some physicists study theoretical areas, such as the fundamental properties of atoms and molecules and the evolution of the universe. Others design and perform experiments with sophisticated equipment such as particle accelerators, electron microscopes, and lasers. Many apply their knowledge of physics to practical areas, such as developing advanced materials and medical equipment.

Astronomers study planets, stars, galaxies, and other celestial bodies. They use ground-based equipment, such as radio and optical telescopes, and space-based equipment, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Some astronomers focus their research on objects in our solar system, such as the sun or planets. Others study distant stars, galaxies, and phenomena such as neutron stars and black holes, and some monitor space debris that could interfere with satellite operations.

Many physicists and astronomers work in basic research with the aim of increasing scientific knowledge. These researchers may attempt to develop theories that better explain what gravity is or how the universe works or was formed. Other physicists and astronomers work in applied research. They use the knowledge gained from basic research to affect new developments in areas such as energy, electronics, communications, navigation, and medical technology. For example, because of the work of physicists, lasers are used in surgery and microwave ovens are used in most kitchens.

Astronomers and physicists typically work on research teams together with engineers, technicians, and other scientists. Some senior astronomers and physicists may be responsible for assigning tasks to other team members and monitoring their progress. They may also be responsible for finding funding for their projects and therefore may need to write applications for research grants.

Although all of physics involves the same fundamental principles, physicists generally specialize in one of many subfields. The following are examples of types of physicists:

Astrophysicists study the physics of the universe. "strophysics" is a term that is often used interchangeably with "astronomy."

Atomic, molecular, and optical physicists study atoms, simple molecules, electrons, and light, as well as the interactions among them. Some look for ways to control the states of individual atoms, because such control might allow for further miniaturization or might contribute toward the development of new materials or computer technology.

Condensed matter physicists study the physical properties of condensed phases of matter, such as liquids and solids. They study phenomena ranging from superconductivity to liquid crystals.

Medical physicists work in healthcare and use their knowledge of physics to develop new medical technologies and radiation-based treatments. For example, some develop better and safer radiation therapies for cancer patients. Others may develop more accurate imaging technologies that use various forms of radiant energy, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound imaging.

Particle and nuclear physicists study the properties of atomic and subatomic particles, such as quarks, electrons, and nuclei, and the forces that cause their interactions. 

Plasma physicists study plasmas, which are considered a distinct state of matter and occur naturally in stars and interplanetary space and artificially in neon signs and plasma screen televisions. Many plasma physicists study ways to create fusion reactors that might be a future source of energy.

Unlike physicists, astronomers cannot experiment on their subjects, because they are so far away that they cannot be touched or interacted with. Therefore, astronomers generally make observations or work on theory. Observational astronomers observe celestial objects and collect data on them. Theoretical astronomers analyze, model, and theorize about systems and how they work and evolve. Some astronomers specialize further into other subfields. The following are examples of types of astronomers who specialize by the objects and phenomena they study:

Cosmologists and extragalactic astronomers study the entire universe. They study the history, the creation and evolution, and the possible futures of the universe and its galaxies. These scientists have recently developed several theories important to the study of physics and astronomy, including string, dark-matter, and dark-energy theories.

Galactic, planetary, solar, and stellar astronomers study different phenomena that take place in the universe, specializing in certain parts of it. For example, solar astronomers study the sun, while stellar astronomers study other stars and associated phenomena.

High-energy astrophysicists collect and analyze x rays, gamma rays, and other forms of high-energy rays that can help locate and study black holes or neutron stars.

Observational astronomers and optical astronomers use optical telescopes to study their subjects.

Radio astronomers use radio telescopes to analyze the radio spectrum for data about their subjects.

Growing numbers of physicists work in interdisciplinary fields, such as biophysics, chemical physics, and geophysics. For more information, see the profiles on biochemists and biophysicists and geoscientists.

Many people with a physics or astronomy background become professors or teachers. For more information, see the profiles on high school teachers and postsecondary teachers.

Supervisory Geophysicist, GS-1313-14 (CA-DEU)

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
DutiesSummaryWhat General Information Do I Need To Know About This Position?Salary: $114,454 (Step 01) to $148,794 (Step 10); NOTE: First time hires to the Federal Government are typically hired at the Step 01.Open to current or former Federal employees: SAC-2019-0261There is one vacancy; however,...
Apply Share

Aesthetician Freelance - La Mer - Santa Clara, CA

Type: Part Time
Position Summary:Looking for trendsetters with a passion for beauty and a determination for success. Represent a family company that is committed to investing in our greatest asset, you! Join a world of ongoing training and development on cutting edge techniques and the opportunity to become your...
Apply Share

Aesthetician Freelance - La Mer - Sacramento, CA

Type: Part Time
Position Summary:Looking for trendsetters with a passion for beauty and a determination for success. Represent a family company that is committed to investing in our greatest asset, you! Join a world of ongoing training and development on cutting edge techniques and the opportunity to become your...
Apply Share

Astronomer/Astrophysicist - EOSL

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
This job is for a full-time research faculty position in the Electro-Optical Systems Innovation Division (EOSID) with the Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory (EOSL) at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). The main responsibility will be providing full imaging chain subject matter expertise to...
Apply Share

Graduate Geophysicist - Reservoir Americas

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
Job DescriptionYou will be part of an integrated team of highly qualified geoscientists, geophysicists and petrophysicists tasked with delivering high quality products to help our client with their sub-surface challenges for the discovery and production of hydrocarbons.Performance will be assessed...
Apply Share
CGG
Houston, TX

Medical Physicist

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
We Are HiringMedical PhysicistFull-Time, DayVia Christi Hospital St Francis - Wichita, KSWhy Join Ascension?Via Christi Health, a part of Ascension, is the largest healthcare provider in the state of Kansas and is a nationally recognized. The ministry operates a network of hospitals, home care...
Apply Share

MRI TECHNOLOGIST

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
THE SHIFT FOR THIS POSITION IS: Monday - Friday (2:30PM-11:00PM)MISSION STATEMENTThe mission of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Diagnostic Imaging Division is to contribute to the prevention and elimination of cancer through outstanding patient-centered imaging, transformative...
Apply Share

Physicist III

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
Responsible for conducting independent testing and analyses, primarily involving microscopy techniques, to solve product/process and customer problems, interpreting results and preparing related reports. Also will develop new test methods, conduct independent research projects, present results in...
Apply Share

Student Intern - Event Services/Communication

Type: Internship
YEAR ROUND UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT INTERN POSITIONSALARY RANGE: $23,600 - $34,00 (SI II)You ‘matter' to us! Our diverse team at Jefferson Lab includes more than 700 people, including physicists, engineers, computer professionals, technicians and more. From probing the basic building blocks of...
Apply Share
Newport News, VA

Physics Resident I - Radiation Oncology

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
This is a clinical medical physics residency program. The candidate will be rotating through defined clinical rotations as well as performing routine clinical duties. This is the first year of a two-year program.Will satisfactorily complete all rotations and responsibilities as defined by the...
Apply Share

Student Intern - Event Services/Communication

Type: Internship
YEAR ROUND GRADUATE STUDENT INTERN POSITIONPOSITION POSTED: APRIL 18, 2019SALARY RANGE:$25,700 - $37,100 (SI III)You ‘matter' to us! Our diverse team at Jefferson Lab includes more than 700 people, including physicists, engineers, computer professionals, technicians and more. From probing the...
Apply Share
Newport News, VA

Geophysicist/Geodesist, GS-1313/1372-12 (DEU-YMJ)

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
DutiesSummaryWhat General Information Do I Need To Know About This Position?Salary GS-12: $84,785 (Step 01) to $110,224 (Step 10);NOTE: First time hires to the Federal Government are typically hired at the Step 01.This is an interdisciplinary position and is being advertised concurrently with the...
Apply Share

Radiation Therapist PRN

Type: Part Time
DescriptionAdventHealth SebringLocation Address: 4200 Sun 'n Lake Boulevard Sebring, FL 33872Top Reasons to Work at AdventHealth SebringFaith Based & Mission driven FacilityLargest Employer in the CountySurrounded by beautiful Lakes, Golf Courses and Florida's oldest State ParkClose...
Apply Share

Radiation Safety Officer - Physicist

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
We Are HiringPhysicist-Medical - Imaging Admin 001 - Full-Time,Day - CSM Hospital Milwaukee - Milwaukee,WIWhy Join Ascension?In Wisconsin, Ascension operates 24 hospitals and hundreds of related healthcare facilities that together employ more than 23,500 associates. Across the state, Ascension...
Apply Share

Medical Physicist

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
Moffitt Cancer Center is internationally recognized for our focus on personalized cancer care and translational research. The mission of Moffitt is clear, focused, and fully stated in nine words, "To contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer." With a tradition of excellence that...
Apply Share

Radiation Therapist Lead

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
PURPOSE:The Lead Radiation Therapist is a role model in demonstrating outstanding clinical assessment, interpretive and treatment delivery skills; and shares these skills with others to ensure the competency of the team and optimal patient outcomes. The incumbent is responsible for facilitating...
Apply Share

Physicist

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
DutiesSummaryYou will serve as a Physicist in the DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY.THIS IS AN EXPEDITED HIRING AUTHORITY ANNOUNCEMENT. The Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) FY 2009 provides that the Secretary of Defense can designate acquisition positions as shortage positions and...
Apply Share

CT Technologist-PRN

Type: Part Time
Job Number: 383076Category: Allied HealthLocation: 5323 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TXDepartment: 867220 - Amb-Image Cntr CtFull/Part Time/PRN: Day JobRegular/Temporary: RegularSchedule: Part-timeSecurityThis position is security-sensitive and subject to Texas Education Code 51.215, which authorizes...
Apply Share

Medical Physicist - Radiation Oncology

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
Are you passionate about helping people? Do you want to make a difference in people's lives?We embrace a culture of passion and dedication at Cedars-Sinai, and it's part of the reason we've been named one of the top ten hospitals in America's Best Hospitals by U.S. News &...
Apply Share
Los Angeles, CA

Radiation Therapist

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
Dignity Health Medical Foundation, established in 1993, is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation with care centers throughout California. Dignity Health Medical Foundation is an affiliate of Dignity Health - one of the largest health systems in the nation - with hospitals and care...
Apply Share