The darkest areas of the map show where astronomy and astrophysics students earn the highest salaries in all 50 states. An official website of the United States government This is how you know the. does gov mean it's official. Federal government websites typically end in.
Physicists and astronomers study the interactions of matter and energy. Physicists and astronomers can work in offices, research laboratories and observatories. Most physicists and astronomers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours a week. Physicists and astronomers often need a PhD, a D.
For research and academic work. However, entry-level physicist jobs in the federal government generally require a physics degree. Every year, around 1,500 vacancies are projected for physicists and astronomers, on average, over the course of the decade. Many of these vacancies are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or leave the workforce, for example, to retire.
Explore employment and salary resources by state and area for physicists and astronomers. Compare the work obligations, education, job growth and salary of physicists and astronomers with similar occupations. Learn more about physicists and astronomers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations. Theoretical physicists and astronomers can study the nature of time or the origin of the universe.
Some physicists design and conduct experiments with sophisticated equipment, such as particle accelerators, electron microscopes, and lasers. Physicists explore the fundamental properties and laws that govern space, time, energy and matter. They can study theory, design and conduct experiments, or apply their knowledge in the development of materials or equipment. Astronomers study planets, stars and other celestial bodies.
They use ground-based equipment, such as optical telescopes, and space-based equipment, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Some astronomers study galaxies and distant phenomena, such as black holes and neutron stars. Others monitor space debris that could interfere with satellite operations. Many physicists and astronomers work in applied research.
They use their knowledge to develop technology or solve problems in areas such as energy storage, electronics, communications and navigation. Others work on basic research to develop theories that explain concepts such as what gravity is or how the universe was formed. Astronomers and physicists often work in research teams with engineers, technicians and other scientists. High-level astronomers and physicists can assign tasks to other team members and monitor their progress.
They may also need to find and apply for research funding. Atomic, molecular and optical physicists study atoms, simple molecules, electrons and light and the interactions between them. Some are looking for ways to control the states of individual atoms, because such control could allow for greater miniaturization or could contribute to the development of new materials or technologies. Computational physicists study the use of algorithms, numerical analysis, and data sets to explore the interaction between theoretical and experimental physics.
They explore complex phenomena in atoms, molecules, plasmas and high-energy particles; problems in astrophysics; and applied phenomena, such as traffic, ocean behavior, and biological dynamics. Materials and condensed matter physicists study the physical properties of matter in new molecules, nanostructures, or compounds. They study a wide range of phenomena, such as superconductivity, liquid crystals, sensors and nanomachines. Health physicists study the effects of radiation on people, communities and the environment.
They manage the beneficial use of radiation and protect workers and the public from potential hazards posed by radiation. Medical physicists work in health care and use their knowledge of physics to develop new medical technologies and radiation-based treatments. For example, some develop safer radiation therapies for cancer patients. Others develop improved imaging technologies for radiant energy, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound.
Nuclear and particle 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, a distinct state of matter that occurs naturally in stars and interplanetary space, and artificially in products such as neon signs and fluorescent lights. These physicists can study ways to create fusion reactors as a potential energy source. Quantum information physicists study ways to use quantum objects, such as atoms and photons, to probe information processing, computing, and cryptography.
They focus on ways to use the fundamental nature of quantum mechanics and its associated uncertainties. Optical astronomers and radio astronomers use optical, radio and gravitational wave telescopes to study the movements and evolution of stars, galaxies and the large-scale structure of the universe. Physicists can also work in interdisciplinary fields, such as biophysics, chemical physics, and geophysics. For more information, see the profiles of biochemists and biophysicists and geoscientists.
People who have experience in physics or astronomy can also become teachers or teachers. For more information, see the profiles of secondary school teachers and higher education teachers. The scientific research and development services industry includes national laboratories, both private and federally funded, such as those supervised by the U.S. UU.
Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. In addition to NASA, other federal agencies that employ physicists and astronomers include the U.S. While physics research often requires working in laboratories, physicists also spend time outside the laboratory to plan, analyze, raise funds and report on research. Most astronomers work in offices and occasionally visit observatories, buildings that house terrestrial telescopes used to observe natural phenomena and collect data.
Some astronomers work full time in observatories. Some physicists and astronomers work temporarily in national or international facilities that have unique equipment, such as particle accelerators and gamma-ray telescopes. They also travel to meetings to present research results and learn about advances in their field. Astronomers may need to perform observation work during.
However, astronomers usually visit observatories only a few times a year. However, physicist jobs in the federal government generally require a degree in physics. In physics, astronomy, or a related field, it is usually required for work in research or academia. Graduate students may focus on a subfield of physics or astronomy, such as condensed matter physics or cosmology.
In addition to physics or astronomy courses, Ph.D. Students must take mathematics courses, such as calculus, linear algebra, and statistics. Computer science can also be useful for developing programs to collect, analyze and model data. A bachelor's degree in physical science or a related field, such as engineering, is generally required to enter a graduate program in physics or astronomy.
Undergraduate programs in physics often include courses such as quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism. Undergraduate students can choose to complete an internship to gain hands-on experience. The American Astronomical Society has an internship directory for astronomy students, and the American Physical Society lists internships for physics students. Job seekers with a bachelor's degree in physics are generally qualified to work as technicians and research assistants in related fields, such as engineering and computer science.
Those with a degree in astronomy may also qualify to work as assistants at an observatory. Students who do not wish to continue their studies up to the doctoral level may want to take courses in instrument building and computer science. Holders of master's and bachelor's degrees may be eligible for jobs in the federal government. Others can become science teachers in middle schools or high schools.
Holders seeking employment as researchers can begin their careers in a postdoctoral research position, usually for 2 to 3 years. Senior scientists supervise these researchers as they gain experience and independence as they perform increasingly complex tasks. Physicists and astronomers should evaluate their work and that of others to avoid errors that could invalidate their research. Physicists and astronomers present their research at conferences, to the public and to others.
They also write technical reports for publication and draft proposals for research funding. Physicists and astronomers need to think logically when conducting scientific experiments and studies. They must determine if the results and conclusions are accurate. Physicists and astronomers must collaborate with others and, therefore, must work well with team members and colleagues.
Physicists and astronomers make calculations involving calculus, geometry, algebra, and other areas of mathematics. They must express their research in mathematical terms. Physicists and astronomers use scientific observation and analysis, as well as creative thinking, to solve problems. For example, they may need to redesign their approach and find alternatives when an experiment or theory doesn't produce the desired result.
Physicists and astronomers need to be motivated, as their work may require them to focus on large data sets for extended periods of time. Some positions in the federal government, such as those related to nuclear energy, may require applicants to be from the U.S. Citizens and holders of a security authorization. With experience, physicists and astronomers can gain greater independence in their work and advance to positions of responsibility.
Experience can also lead to tenure in office for those holding university positions. Some physicists and astronomers move on to become managers of natural sciences. Physicists are expected to increase employment in scientific research and development services, colleges and universities and hospitals. Federal spending is the main source of research funds related to physics and astronomy, especially for basic research.
Therefore, budgetary concerns may limit researchers' access to funding for basic research. The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces annual employment and wage estimates for more than 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. The links below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.
CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metropolitan area. There is also a salary information tool to search for salaries by zip code. This table shows a list of occupations with work tasks similar to those of physicists and astronomers.
Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living beings and biological processes. Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and analyze the ways in which substances interact with each other. Computer and Information Scientists Design Innovative Uses for New and Existing Computer Technology. Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop and test computer systems and components.
Electrical engineers design, develop, test and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment. Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth. Materials engineers develop, process and test materials used to create a wide range of products. Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.
Nuclear engineers research and develop processes, instruments and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation. Higher education teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level. For more information on astronomy careers and for a list of colleges and universities offering astronomy programs, visit For a list of colleges and universities offering physics programs, visit For more information on careers and education in physics, visit The What They Do Tab describes the duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.
The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, expected level of physical activity, and typical hours worked. You can also talk about the main industries that employed the occupation. This tab can also describe part-time work opportunities, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment used, and the risk of injury workers may face. The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation.
This tab may include information about education, training, work experience, licenses and certifications, and important qualities that are required or useful to enter or work in the occupation. The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated: annual wages, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within each occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, seniority and geographical area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with salaries in the main industries employing the occupation.
It does not include pay for self-employed workers, farmworkers or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the BLS wage data source in the OOH. The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projection data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop. The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect the growth or decline of employment in the occupation and, in some cases, describes the relationship between the number of job applicants and the number of job offers. The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar tasks, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.
The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions and other organizations that can provide additional information about the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Additional training (after employment) is needed to achieve proficiency in the skills needed in this occupation. Typical level of education most workers need to enter this occupation.
Work experience that employers often consider necessary or that is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education. Astrophysicists must keep up to date on the latest developments, research and findings in their field. The term astrophysicist is often used interchangeably with astronomers, but there are slight differences between them, plus a third related work called a cosmologist. Astrophysicists are usually theoretical scientists or observational scientists and their base salary is generally the same.
Astrophysicists can act as guides and mentors to students to help them better understand subjects and how to grow in their careers. As an astrophysicist, you could also participate in drafting grant proposals in the hope of securing funding for your research. Astrophysicists seek to understand how the universe works, how it began and what its future will be like. Astrophysicists regularly attend conferences to present their work or to listen to presentations of papers they can review.
Not surprising, given that astrophysicists must earn doctoral degrees and make two or three postdoctoral appointments, just as doctors must have residency after medical school. It may surprise you to learn that astrophysicists spend only a small part of their working time looking through telescopes. Astrophysicists are paid well above the national average salary, but getting there can seem overwhelming and the field is very competitive. Astrophysicists often work in research environments where there is a great interest in space and the origins and functions of all its objects.
Astrophysicists study the universe and conduct research on many topics, including the big bang, black holes, dark matter, stars and exoplanets. Understanding the necessary skills of an astrophysicist and knowing their salary potential can help you decide if it's the right job for you. Experience is vital to the career of an astrophysicist, as evidenced by the various postdoctoral appointments required in the field. Astrophysicists may also need to write a proposal to their workplace to invest in new equipment and technology and how they can benefit their work and research.