Physics is the study of matter and energy and how they operate in the world. Theoretical physicists spend many years studying certain aspects of matter and energy and formulating theories on how these things work, but their work is very abstract and must be applied to the “real world” in order for benefit to be gained from it. Applied physicists use theories to generate usable systems and objects that help people in everyday life.
What Is An Applied Physics Degree?
An applied physics degree is held by many scientists who work for companies or businesses to bring the theories of physics to bear on inventions and make them utilitarian. For example, applied physicists may use the theories of motion to design cars that cut wind resistance and gain gas mileage.
An applied physics degree is bounded in the theories of physics, but students also take classes in how to use those theories. Many students begin with a bachelor’s degree in applied physics that includes classes in physical science and chemistry as well as electives. Students may also elect to pursue a master’s or even a doctorate in applied physics, engineering, or a related field.
How Much Do Applied Physicists Earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, applied and theoretical physicists can earn a median annual salary of $106,370. This salary is reflective of physicists in both private and public sectors. Physicists who work in the healthcare field earn the highest median salaries at $151,970; those in technical and consulting services earn $132,040; those in the federal government earn $112,220; those in the research and development fields earn $102,420; and those in education earn $80,130.
What Is The Job Outlook for Applied Physicists?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the job outlook for all physicists is about 14 percent job growth between 2010 and 2020. This is reflective of expected growth in the research fields for government projects as well as some hiring in the education field and for the private sector.
The majority of jobs will be in research of new systems and engineering projects, especially for the military. While the military does train its own physicists, it also contracts with private individuals to supply needed research and development for a variety of systems. The healthcare industry also uses a great deal of applied physics in formulating new treatment options for patients.
What Do Applied Physicists Do?
An applied physicist works with the very specific needs of clients to develop ways to use physical theories and properties. The automotive and architectural industries use physics often in designing cars or buildings, while other industries use physics to invent or develop new products. An applied physicist may work with theoretical physicists, engineers, doctors, or others who have an interest in physics and want to create things for people’s use.