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Science

Physicist

Physicists study matter and try to work out why it behaves like it does.

Annual Salary

£14,000 to £70,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: between 8am and 6pm; away from home

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

Depending on the area of industry you work in, in this role you may:

  • be involved in climate forecasting
  • develop new medical instruments and treatments
  • work in satellite technology and space exploration
  • investigate new ways to generate power
  • explore robotics and artificial intelligence
  • teach in schools, colleges or universities
  • use your knowledge to work in publishing, broadcasting or journalism

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work in a workshop, in a factory or in a laboratory.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and you may spend nights away from home.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a graduate trainee scheme
University

Most employers will expect you to have a degree in physics, applied physics, or a related science or engineering subject. You may also need a relevant postgraduate qualification, like a master's degree or PhD.

You could do a combined degree and master's qualification, like an MPhys or MSci. These courses include more independent research and lead directly onto further postgraduate study like a PhD.

You may be able to do a 1-year physics foundation course before your degree, if you do not have a background in science.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths and physics
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
Other routes

You may be able to start on a company's graduate training scheme after completing your degree or postgraduate qualification.

More information

Career tips

You may have an advantage if you've got relevant work experience. You could get this through a work placement as part of your degree or during vacations, or a scheme like the Year in Industry programme.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in physics through the Institute of Physics.

You could work in health or research institutes, defence or robotics, aerospace, computing and electronics, power generation or gas and oil,or government departments, like the Met Office.

You could use your scientific knowledge in other areas like education, scientific journalism and patent work.

With experience, you’ll take on more responsibility and manage the work of other scientists.

You could also move into a senior research role, or progress into consultancy work.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of physics
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • analytical thinking skills
  • science skills
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
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