- Physicists work in a range of scientific roles in industry, research and teaching
- You'll need excellent scientific and research skills and excellent problem-solving abilities
- Progress into senior research and teaching roles
You'll usually work in theoretical analysis (developing ideas, using computer simulations and mathematical modelling techniques to make predictions and explain behaviours), or experimental research (designing experiments to test theories).
Depending on the area of industry you work in, you may be involved in:
- Climate forecasting
- Developing new medical instruments and treatments
- Working in satellite technology and space exploration
- Investigating new ways to generate power
- Exploring robotics and artificial intelligence
- Teaching in schools, colleges or universities
- Using your knowledge to work in publishing, broadcasting or journalism
- You'll often write reports on your findings and present your work at scientific meetings and conferences
You could work in a workshop, in a factory, or in a laboratory. You might be travelling frequently and spending nights away from home.
To be a physicist, you'll need maths and physics knowledge, excellent verbal communication skills, science skills, the ability to read English, thinking and reasoning skills, thoroughness and attention to detail, and knowledge of engineering science and technology.
Most employers will then 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, such as an MPhys or MSci. You may also be able to do a 1-year physics foundation course before your degree, if you don't have a background in science.
You may be able to start on a company's graduate training scheme after completing your degree.
Relevant work experience will be beneficial, which can be found through a work placement as part of your degree or during vacations, or a scheme like the Year in Industry programme.
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.
You could progress to 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.