The Basics

Careers in Physics

What does a physicist do?

Physicists normally do their work in one of three ways. Some are theorists who create and extend theories, or explanations of the physical world. Others are experimenters, who develop experiments to test theories to explore uses of new instruments, or to investigate new materials. The third method of doing physics is to use computers to simulate experiments, explore and extend theories, or make observations that cannot be done by the human eye.

Physicists can find employment in a variety of fields. Many research physicists work in environments where they perform basic research. These scientists typically work in research universities, government laboratories, and astronomical observatories. Physicists who find new ways to apply physics to engineering and technology are often employed by industrial laboratories. Physicists are also extremely valuable in areas such as computer science, economics and finance, medicine, communications, and publishing. Finally, many physicists who love to see young people get excited about physics become teachers in elementary, middle, or high schools, or in colleges and universities.


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