Although it is by no means a field that is considered a popular or easy one, pursuing a job in physics means taking part in one of the most important fields known to man. As one of the hardest of the hard sciences, it does take a certain level of intelligence, focus, and determination to be a physics major and successfully earn your degree.
If you feel you have been called to pursue a career in physics, you are not alone. Many of the most brilliant minds throughout history began their professional journeys by majoring in physics. As such, earning a physics degree can be a major stepping stone for those who want to go on to pursue great things. With that in mind, the following is a long guide about physics degrees that seeks to answer questions such as, “is physics a good major?”, and “why major in physics?”, among many other related questions.
Most Popular Schools with Online Physics Degree Programs
|Quick Facts: Physicists and Astronomers|
|2019 Median Pay||$122,220 per year|
$58.76 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Doctoral or professional degree|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2019||20,500|
|Job Outlook, 2019-29||7% (Faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2019-29||1,400|
Most Affordable Online Physics Degree Programs
What Can You Do with a Physics Degree?
If you are wondering what jobs can you get with a degree in physics, there are plenty of answers to this question. The following is a closer look at some of the top jobs for physics majors:
- Atmospheric Scientists and Meteorologists: One of the top jobs for a physics major is an atmospheric scientist and meteorologist. This is a career that generally requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Those who choose this as a career typically work for the government and spend the majority of their time learning how to track weather patterns and accurately predict what the weather will be from one day to the next. They must learn to collect and analyze weather-related data, in order to be a service to not only the government but the public at large. While it may not seem to be a very prestigious position, many who work in these positions actually help to solve problems that arise in fields such as energy, commerce, agriculture, transportation, and the environment.
- Hydrologist: Another great example of jobs with a physics major is that of a hydrologist. These positions typically require at least a master’s in physics. However, many places require a Ph. D., and some even require the person to get a license. Moreover, this is often a hard field to get into as many do not offer degrees in hydrology. Rather, many schools offer related concentrations such as engineering or geoscience. Nevertheless, those who are determined can still work their way into the field. Those who choose to work in this field help to provide solutions to some of the most complex issues in relation to water. Those who take on these jobs are typically highly analytical and also tend to be good in subjects such as math, geography, and technology. Hydrologists are tasked with things such as researching the occurrence, composition, movement, and distribution of surface and underground waters.
- Astronomers and Physicists: Those who want to pursue a career as a physicist or astronomer typically need to earn a Ph. D. in astronomy as well as a Ph. D. in physics. This is a very arduous feat as each of these degrees takes up to 7 years to complete. Nevertheless, many consider this to be one of the most rewarding jobs for a physics major. However, before pursuing a Ph. D., those who wish to pursue a career as a physicist or astronomer should first take courses in things such as linear algebra, calculus, computer science, and other related courses. Once they earn their degrees, these people typically earn their livings by literally studying the secrets of the universe, medical technology, and much more. They study all aspects of the universe and seek to provide the world with revolutionary commentary and solutions that can push the world forward in positive ways. They are known for conducting research studies and extensive experiments that seek to help us all understand the world and ourselves better. These careers involve studying and inventing methods and laws that help to dictate matter, energy, space, and more.
- Biochemists and Biophysicists: Another great example of a quality career in physics is that of biochemists and biophysics. Those who wish to pursue a career as a biochemist or biophysicist must acquire a doctorate in either of these fields. Although they are easily able to climb the corporate ladder, many of the people who have successful careers in these fields begin their journeys by working in temporary research positions. Additionally, those who have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree may qualify for entry-level positions in product development, inspection, or applied research. Generally speaking, those who work in these positions are tasked with duties that involve studying the physical principles of cells and organisms. Moreover, they also conduct research to better understand the complex chemical combinations and reactions related to reproduction, metabolism, heredity, and growth. They seek to expand human knowledge in a way that will allow us to become a stronger and more evolved species.
- Nuclear Technicians: Lastly, another great example of great jobs for physics majors is that of a nuclear technician. These positions a minimum of an associate’s degree in nuclear science or a related field. They are also typically required to obtain security clearance as well as on-site training. Generally speaking, those who work in these positions work under highly-skilled nuclear scientists in order to better understand the various safety measures, operational equipment, and regulatory procedures required to be successful in the field. A nuclear technician takes the time to monitor, maintain, and provide quality control measures for nuclear testing and equipment, as well as radiation levels. They may be required to do things such as collect gas, air, water, and soil samples as a means of testing for radioactive contamination. Also, they may be tasked with teaching other personnel the proper safety measures and how to use the equipment in the event of a serious emergency.
Degree Types: Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral
If you are interested in getting an online associates degree in physics, there are steps you need to take. Given that this is a 2-year degree, it is not as involved as upper-level degrees. Nevertheless, to get an online associates degree in physics, you must study a wide range of topics such as:
Moreover, you will also be introduced to subjects such as astronomy, chemistry, and geology. In order to start your journey on getting an online associates degree in physics, you must do the following:
- Earn a high school diploma or G.E.D.
- Possess an above-average understanding of subjects such as math and science.
- Apply to a 2-year college
- Complete the most common subjects (such as Analytical geometry, Calculus, C++ or Java programming methods, Engineering physics, Linear algebra, and Organic chemistry, among other related subjects.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees
On the other hand, earning a bachelor’s physics degree online is a slightly more involved process. These 4-year degree programs can either be entered by first acquiring a degree from a 2-year college and transferring to a 4-year college or simply applying to a 4-year program, to begin with. Students who seek to earn a bachelor’s physics degree online must start by learning the fundamentals of physical motion, as well as related sciences. They must also learn the fundamentals of analytical skills and scientific research. For those who are interested in becoming a physics teacher, you must be sure to enter a program that allows students to earn a teacher’s certification. Be mindful that not all schools offer this certification. Moreover, students who are pursuing a bachelor’s physics degree online are encouraged to find out how they can use their degrees to solve issues that are related to environmental and technological problems.
To acquire a bachelor’s physics degree online, students must do the following:
- Graduate from high school (preferably in relatively good standing. Moreover, you should have successfully passed the general math and science courses.
- Apply for a 2-year or 4-year college that offers physics as a major.
- If you decide to go to a 2-year college first (many students do so due to low grades and test scores), you must then apply to a 4-year college to complete your degree.
While pursuing your degree, you will learn the following subjects:
- Magnetism and electricity
- Computer science
- Mathematical physics
- Quantum theory introduction
Online Master’s Degrees
Obviously, acquiring a master’s degree is more difficult than acquiring an associate’s degree or bachelor’s. If you want to acquire a physics masters online, you are likely interested in becoming a professional scientist, or other related fields. Additionally, upon graduation, people can pursue specialties, such as applied physics or health physics.
Some of the most common subjects studied are:
- Applied optics
- Advanced electronics
- Air pollution
- Linear systems
- Quantum mechanics
Online Doctorate Degrees
Lastly, a doctoral physics program is even more involved and it takes 4-6 years to fully complete. Those who graduate with a doctorate are able to design and conduct independent, unique research in any related field they may choose. Some of the most common being geophysics or astronomy.
Before entering into this program, applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree in a field related to physics. Additionally, taking and scoring high on the GRE is mandatory. They must also write a letter of intent.
Some of the most common subjects studied while pursuing a physics PhD online are:
- Atomic physics
- Kinetic theory
- Classical mechanics
- Statistical mechanics
- Nuclear physics
Accreditation for Physics
While physics does not have its own specialised accreditation process, it’s still very important to pursue a physics degree from an accredited, reputable institution. Strong physics programs can be identified by these criteria:
- They are interested in conduction a study that is independent, extensive.
- They need something to serve as a foundation for the standing of individual courses and departments.
- They need a method of enhancing the standing of physics and physicists.
If you are interested in getting a physics degree online, you may still be able to acquire various scholarships that will allow you to get your degree for much less, if not for free. Some of the most common scholarships for physics majors are as follows:
- Allan F. Henry and Paul A. Greebler Scholarship: This scholarship was created to honor two of the most outstanding nuclear reactor physicists. These physicists were major contributors to the American Nuclear Society (ANS). This scholarship offers up to $3,500, which is awarded annually to graduate students who are pursuing advanced degrees in reactor physics. Those who are eligible have to be enrolled full-time at a North American university. Thye must also be engaged in Masters or Ph.D. research in the field of nuclear reactor physics. Alternatively, they may be involved in radiation transport. Lastly, they must be sponsored by an ANS local student branch.
- American Physical Society Minority Scholarship: This scholarship was created with the intent of helping to increase the amount of minorities who are often under-represented in the field of physics. Particularly, the American Physical Society (APS) offers the Minority Scholarship annually to African Americans, Hispanic Americans, or Native Americans who are also U.S. citizens. These students must also be majoring or preparing to major in physics.
- Barbara Lotze Scholarships for Future Physics Teachers: This scholarship is sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).,The Barbara Lotze Scholarships for Future Physics Teachers exclusive offer up to $2,000 annually to undergraduate students who are enrolled in physics with a teacher preparation curriculum. They must also attend an accredited two or four-year university in the United States. Those who are qualified applicants must be U.S. citizens. They must also be in the process of pursuing a career in physics teaching in high schools, and lastly, they should show promise in terms of success in their studies.
- Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program: This is a highly competitive scholarship program. It offers a merit-based award that was established by Congress in honor of the Congressman who served his country for 56 years. This scholarship program was created to extend financial support of up to $7,500. It is exclusively for college students who are pursuing a career in either engineering, mathematics, or the natural sciences (which includes physics). To be eligible, candidates must be U.S. citizens. They must also be nominated by an accredited institution who vouches for their talent and potential. Lastly, they must demonstrate academic excellence and be poised to become experts in their fields.