Particle physics concerns matter. It investigates the smallest elements, the subatomic constituents, of matter and radiation that make up the universe. A particle physicist researches these elements, the basic building blocks of everything, to understand how they interact to make the universe look and behave as it does. She may investigate particles that exist today or seek to understand those that were last seen only billionths of a second after the Big Bang. She will be laboratory-based, but some particle physics laboratories are huge accelerators that smash particles together to understand the forces they contain. Her salary is comparable with other physicists, variable according to her employment situation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics produced its latest occupational employment and wages data in May 2009. In that survey it listed the mean annual salary of physicists of all specialisms, including particle physics, as $111,250, the equivalent of an hourly pay rate of $53.49. It reported that the practitioners at the top end of the earning scale, the highest 10 percent, earned an average wage of $165,750. The corresponding physicists at the opposite end of the scale achieved an average of $56,210. The median 50 percent gained $106,390 per year.
Salaries by Employer
Particle physicists are research scientists, but they can be employed by several different sectors of industry to carry out that research. These sectors can offer qualified professionals differing salary levels. The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that private industry offers greater compensation levels than public agencies. The average salary within oil and gas extraction businesses was listed at $130,420 and that for other professional, scientific and technical services at $128,670. The federal executive branch, by contrast, was listed at an average wage of $112,480. A physicist working in academia -- colleges, universities and professional schools -- could expect to achieve a mean salary of $82,790.
Salaries by Location
Different geographical areas in the United States can also offer differing levels of pay to particle physicists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics survey conducted in May 2009 lists Kentucky as the most lucrative state for a physicist to be employed in, offering an average salary of $139,810. Florida and Indiana offer similar levels of pay -- $136,380 and $136,200, respectively -- while Minnesota is a little further back at $130,840. In contrast, Maryland is listed at an average salary of $116,680, while Virginia offers a physicist an average annual salary of $109,620.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the general rate of growth across all occupations to be between 7 and 13 percent during the decade between 2008 and 2018, it predicts the employment market for physicists of all specialisms, including particle physics, will increase by around 16 percent. A 2007 bill by Congress to double funding for the physical sciences by 2016 will be a major factor in this growth. As a result, salaries for particle physicists should remain very competitive.
- Photo Credit einsteinÂ´s formel image by Carsten Meyer from Fotolia.com
Job Description of a Physicist
Physicists can follow a number of different tracks for employment. They can become theorists and study the origins of the universe, the...
The Average Salary of an Astrophysicist
Astrophysicists and astronomers -- the two titles are often used interchangeably -- study the physics of the universe. It is a small...
How to Become a Theoretical Physicist
Theoretical physicists are on the cutting edge of science exploration. They use math to observe and understand the natural world. Theoretical physics...
The Average Salary of a Nuclear Physicist
Nuclear physicists focus on the science behind the particles that form the atom. The above average pay the earn compared to other...
The Average Starting Salary in Astrophysics
Astrophysics is a profession where physical science, astronomy and a high starting salary collide. While studying the way the universe works and...
The Salary of a Physicist With a Ph.D.
Physicists are scientists who study the nature and interactions of energy, motion and matter. They carry this out with the use of...
How Much Money Does a Physicist Make?
Gaining knowledge about the physical properties of the world around us is essential to the advancement of technology and our fundamental knowledge...
Salaries and Jobs for Physics Majors
Physics plays an important role in technological and medical advancements. Students who major in physics must have a strong grasp on science...
Theoretical Physicist's Salary
Although Isaac Newton was called a natural philosopher in his day, he was actually one of the first theoretical physicists, responsible for...