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. Physicists and astronomers in applied fields may develop new military technologies or new sources of energy, or monitor space debris that could endanger satellites.
Physicists and astronomers spend much of their time working in offices, but they also conduct research in laboratories and observatories. Most physicists and astronomers work full time.
How to Become a Physicist or Astronomer
Physicists and astronomers need a Ph.D. for most research jobs. Many physics and astronomy Ph.D. holders typically begin their careers in temporary postdoctoral research positions.
In May 2012, the median annual wage for physicists was $106,840. The median annual wage for astronomers was $96,460 in May 2012.
Employment of physicists and astronomers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Expected growth in federal government spending for physics and astronomy research should increase the need for physicists and astronomers, especially at colleges and universities and national laboratories.