Salaries and Jobs for Physics Majors

Physics majors often perform research work in medical, government or private labs.
Physics majors often perform research work in medical, government or private labs. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Physics plays an important role in technological and medical advancements. Students who major in physics must have a strong grasp on science and mathematics. Median salaries for physics majors are $51,100 for entry level positions and $98,800 for mid-career positions, according to the MyMajors website. However, salaries vary by job; students who major in physics have a number of career options.


Physicist study scientific laws regarding motion, energy, scientific structure and matter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They often work with sophisticated tools such as lasers, particle accelerators, mass spectrometers and electron microscopes to conduct research and produce theories. Their experiments, observations and analysis help define or discover physical and scientific laws to better understand energy, electronics or other physical properties in our universe. Their work helps advance new technology in energy, communication, medicine and a variety of other industries. Physicists earned a median annual salary of $102,890 in 2008, according to the BLS.


Astronomers are similar to physicists, but astronomers concentrate on researching and performing experiments regarding the physical properties of the universe, including the sun, planets, stars, moon and galaxies. Their work helps us understand the universe we live in and improves technology surrounding space flight, exploration and satellite communications. According to the BLS, the median salary for astronomers in 2008 was $101,300.

Nuclear Physicist

Nuclear physicists concentrate on a nucleus and its components. This field emerged in the early 20th century when the nucleus was discovered. Nuclear physicists might work with nuclear weapons or in nuclear power plants, or they might work in nuclear medicine to help develop new treatments for cancer or other illnesses. Median salaries of nuclear physicists are similar to those of other physicists.


A physics teacher is another career option for physics majors. People who choose this career must also be certified to teach in the state they work in. Physics teachers help students understand the principles of physics in a classroom and laboratory setting. They work in high schools, colleges and universities. Salaries vary by employer, state and years of experience. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of a physics teacher was $75,060 in 2008.

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