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Physicists use mathematical terms to describe the structure of the universe and the interaction between matter and energy. They develop theories that describe the fundamental forces and laws of nature. Physicists are the force behind new technologies that have a profound effect on our lives such as laser surgery and microwave ovens.

Representative Job Titles and Area of Specialization
  • Acoustician
  • Aeronomist
  • Astronomer
  • Astrophysicist
  • Atomic Physicist
  • Biophysicist
  • Ceramist
  • Chemical Physicist
  • Communications Physicist
  • Computer Analyst
  • Computer Programmer
  • Cryogenicist
  • Crystallographer
  • Electron Physicist
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Engineering Physicist
  • Failure Diagnosis Engineer
  • Geodesist
  • Geophysicist
  • High Energy Physicist
  • Hydrologist
  • Laser Physicist
  • Materials Scientist
  • Mathematical Physicist
  • Medical Physicist
  • Microwave Physicist
  • Molecular Physicist
  • Nuclear Physicist
  • Oceanographer
  • Particle Physicist
  • Planetary Physicist
  • Plasma Physicist
  • Process Engineer
  • Product Engineer
  • Professor/Lecturer/Instructor/Teacher
  • Quality Assurance Engineer
  • Reliability Engineer
  • Rheologist
  • Science Writer/Editor
  • Scientific Equipment Salesperson
  • Solid-State Physicist
  • Space Physicist
  • Statistical Physicist
  • Thermal Physicist
  • Weights and Measures Inspector

Nature of the Work

Most physicists work in research and development of new technologies. Some conduct basic research to increase scientific knowledge. Others conduct applied research to develop new devices, products and processes.

Today, more physicists are specializing in fields combining physics with a related science such as biology, chemistry, geology and engineering.

Places of Employment
  • Aerospace industry
  • Army, Navy, Air Force
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Colleges, universities, high schools
  • Communications industries
  • Telecommunication equipment companies
  • Department of Energy
  • Electronic industries
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Medical/scientific instrument companies
  • Makers of business machines, computers
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Independent laboratories
  • National laboratories
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Petroleum producers
  • Department of State
  • Utilities
  • Appliance manufacturers
  • Audio equipment companies


A bachelor's degree in Physics can get you a position in quality assurance, technical sales or assisting physicists in research and development laboratories. If that sort of career appeals to you, you should choose more applied courses as an undergrad and get some and career-related experience while in school.

Most entry-level positions bearing the title "physicist" require Graduate training in physics or a closely related field. If you want to teach and perform research at a university or administer a research and development program, you will need a Ph.D.

For further information and/or career counseling contact the UCR Career Center, (951) 827-3631.

Supplemental Material

The following documents may provide further ideas for exploration.


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