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Masters in Physics: Jobs & Salary

The natural science of physics is easily incorporated into various scientific- and research-based careers. Explore some of the careers for graduates of a master's degree program in physics, as well as the median salary for each job.

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A master's degree in physics can be applied to several careers in science, as well as other fields like engineering and education. Here we discuss some of the related career options for graduates with a master's degree in physics.

Related Careers for a Master's Degree in Physics

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Physicists $115,870 8%
Astronomers $104,740 3%
Biochemists and Biophysicists $82,180 8%
Aerospace Engineers $109,650 -2% (Decline)
Physics Teachers, Postsecondary $84,570 15%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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Career Descriptions

Physicists

An obvious career choice for graduates with a master's degree in physics is that of a physicist. A master's degree qualifies these scientists for some research positions that use physics to study how matter and energy interact. They do this through complex scientific experiments that often require the use of advanced technology, like lasers and special computer software to analyze data. Physicists may present their findings in scientific papers and/or presentations.

Astronomers

Astronomers are somewhat similar to physicists and typically require a master's degree for some advanced positions. These scientists also study how matter and energy interact, but focus their studies on how this applies to the universe, solar systems, planets and other entities in space. They use physics and advanced math to analyze their data that may be collected from telescopes, complex computer models and more. Astronomers also publish their work in scientific papers and may need to use their work to apply for research grants to fund future experiments.

Biochemists and Biophysicists

A master's degree is required for some entry-level positions as a biochemist or biophysicist. These scientists apply principles of physics to a much smaller scale than astronomers or physicists by looking at the chemical and physical characteristics of biological processes. They conduct research projects that examine how these processes work, such as in the case of disease or cell development, and then look at how various substances affect these processes, like drugs or hormones. Their work findings may have implications in the field of medicine and are published in technical reports and papers.

Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace engineers usually need a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering, but some choose to pursue a master's degree as well. Those with a background in physics may be more prepared to create viable designs for aircraft, spacecraft and more based on physics and the requirements needed to meet the laws of physics. Aerospace engineers must also evaluate the budget requirements for a project and determine which proposed project is the best and most feasible. They then set quality standards for the project and carefully inspect and test the product to ensure that it will work as desired.

Physics Teachers, Postsecondary

Although most postsecondary teachers need a doctorate degree, some smaller institutions may only require a master's degree. Physics teachers are responsible for teaching various courses in the field, typically within areas of their personal expertise. This requires creating their own curriculum and assessments for students, as well as being available to answer students' questions or possibly help advise them on what courses to take in the future. Teachers at this level may need to conduct independent research in their field for the institution, as well as oversee the work of graduate students.

Physics is a natural science that is involved in many careers, and a master's degree in the field typically qualifies a graduate for a mid-level to an advanced position in various jobs. Many professions that heavily rely on physics offer high median salaries (greater than $80,000, per the BLS).

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