“A physicist is an atom’s way of knowing about atoms.”
George Wald, Scientist
Pros and Cons of Working as a Physicist
You consider becoming a physicist? Great! However, before making your final decision, check out all the pros and cons of being a physicist in this article.
After evaluating all the arguments, you may want to go for an alternative career path instead. Without further ado, let’s give you more information on this exciting job opportunity.
Being a Physicist – Key Facts
|Short Job Description||Physicists usually deal with the biggest questions of mankind. Many other sciences are also based on the findings in physics and as a physicist, you may be able to change our view on the world and the universe in general.|
|Salary||$70,000 – $200,000 a year, average around $95,000, depending on your experience and the role in your company or research institution.|
|Job Security||Good job security.|
|Job Satisfaction||Decent if you love science.|
|Physically / Mentally Demanding?||Mentally demanding.|
|Future Outlook||Excellent since many people don’t have the mental capacities to become physicists and you will often have the freedom of choice regarding where you want to work.|
Advantages of Being a Physicist
- Physicists can aspire to a demanding research career
- You will understand how the world works
- Physics is a major cornerstone for many other sciences
- Physicists can also work in the corporate world
- You can earn a decent salary as a physicist
- Being a physicist allows you to work indoors
- You can work on demanding projects
- Variety of different fields you can work in
- Physicists often have a regular schedule
- Free weekends and holidays are common
- You can build a strong network
- Physicists can publish research papers
- You can become a real expert in your field
- You can work with the best people in your niche
- Physicists have decent job security
Physicists can aspire to a demanding research career
One advantage of becoming a physicist is that you will be able to pursue a demanding research career. In fact, many big inventions have been made by physicists. Physicists have also greatly contributed to a better understanding of what’s going on in our universe.
Without the education of a physicist, most of those people would never have had the knowledge to prove their theses and to become real pillars in the research community.
Hence, by becoming a physicist, you can build the foundation that is crucial to succeed in research that most people will never have.
You will understand how the world works
In general, as a physicist, you will also better understand how the world works than most other people on our planet. In fact, physicists learn how the universe and all that is contained in this works from scratch.
Thus, if you are the kind of person who really wants to know how it all started and how the universe will likely end, a career as a physicist can make quite a lot of sense for you to answer those big questions.
Of course, we as humans will never understand everything in our universe since it is simply too complex. However, every invention or insight counts and devoting your life to solving those big problems can really make you happy and fulfilled.
Physics is a major cornerstone for many other sciences
Physics is not only a standalone science, it also greatly contributes to a better understanding of how other sciences work. In fact, many other sciences use insights from physics as a foundation for further research. Hence, physics can be considered as the mother of all sciences without many other sciences could simply not exist.
Thus, you will also get the opportunity to help out many other researchers in different fields through your work as a physicist, at least if you stay on the research track.
Physicists can also work in the corporate world
Another benefit of being a physicist is that you can not only work in research, but you are also quite welcome in the corporate world. While you will work on much more concrete problems in the corporate world compared to the research world, you can still succeed in corporations and solve important problems for a company.
For instance, as a physicist, you can solve complex mathematical problems or improve algorithms for companies. There are many opportunities regarding how you can use your talents as a physicist and many doors will open for you. Whether you want to stay on the research track or work in the corporate world greatly depends on your individual preferences.
If you want to work on real-life problems, you will be better off working for a corporation. If you want to solve pretty abstract problems that could improve the knowledge of mankind in general, you will be better off with a research career. Many physicists also start out in research, but switch to a job in the corporate world after a few years.
As you can see, you will have many options to choose from as a physicist, at least if you are good at what you are doing and you can also sell your skills.
You can earn a decent salary as a physicist
Physicists can also earn pretty good money. The average salary of physicists in the US is around 80,000 dollars. However, you can also earn much more if you work in the corporate sector and have a leading role in the research department of a big company.
Consequently, you also don’t have to be afraid regarding financial aspects as a physicist in the long run since you will be able to earn pretty decent money in many jobs that you are qualified for.
Thus, becoming a physicist can also make sense if you want to be able to afford many fancy things. However, don’t get me wrong. You should never aspire to a career as a physicist just for the money since it will simply be too hard and you will never get happy.
Only if you are passionate about what you are doing, you will really put in the time and effort that it takes to become successful in your field.
What I mean is that you should not worry about money too much if you are really passionate about physics since you will have many well-paying job options later on in your life.
Being a physicist allows you to work indoors
Another upside of becoming a physicist is that you can work indoors. Of course, this is true for most scientific jobs. However, you should never forget that there are many other people who still have to work outside under extreme conditions to keep our system running.
For instance, if you build a house or fix streets, you will have no choice but to work outside, even if it rains or snows. You will also have to work, even though it might be extremely hot in summer.
Those extreme conditions are not fun at all for people who have to work outside and you as a physicist can avoid working under those adverse conditions since you will work in a cozy office where you are protected from the cold and can even use air conditioning in case it gets too warm for you in summer.
You can work on demanding projects
You will also be able to work on pretty demanding projects as a physicist. In fact, since your education will be pretty abstract and you will deal with many difficult problems, you will develop analytical skills that allow you to work on problems that most other people would just not be able to solve.
That’s the reason why firms are pretty eager to employ physicists. While they often don’t have any concrete knowledge, they are able to tackle many different problems due to their strong analytical skills.
Consequently, you will have the opportunity to solve rather complex problems for companies and chances are that you will never get bored since you will always be challenged by new problems.
Variety of different fields you can work in
As a physicist, you can also work in many different fields. For instance, physicists can work in engineering, informatics and various other fields where plenty of calculations and abstract thinking are needed.
Hence, you will also have a great level of freedom regarding what you want to work on as a physicist and if you don’t like your work anymore, you can just quit your job and work for another company instead.
You may also be able to switch departments inside the company you work for if you like the company atmosphere but don’t like the specific project you currently work on.
Physicists often have a regular schedule
Another advantage of a career in physics is that you will also have a pretty regular schedule and a normal 9 to 5 job. This is especially true if you work in a research institution since there will often be no fixed deadlines and you will be free to leave your office at the same time every day and continue your work the next morning.
Thus, becoming a physicist can also make quite a lot of sense if you are the kind of person for whom good work-life balance is really important.
Free weekends and holidays are common
You will not only have a rather regular workweek with free evenings, you also don’t have to work on weekends or holidays as a physicist, at least if there are no serious emergencies. This also implies that you will have plenty of time to spend with your family and friends.
This is also great in case you have kids since you will be able to see them growing up instead of having to work all day long like in many other corporate jobs.
You can build a strong network
As a physicist, you will also be able to build a really strong network. This is not only true for the corporate world, you can also build a strong network among your research colleagues.
In fact, you will be able to attend scientific conferences as a physicist and can also share your latest research findings.
Physicists can publish research papers
Thanks to our modern technologies like the internet, it is pretty easy to share research findings with peers from all over the world. As a physicist, you don’t even have to meet up with your science colleagues in person. You can just publish your papers on many different platforms where your peers will have the opportunity to read and also criticize your work.
You can also make video calls and talk with the most renowned experts in your field one-to-one. In fact, it can be really exciting to talk with leading experts about your findings and how they perceive your work.
You can become a real expert in your field
As a physicist, you can not only talk to people who really understand how the world works, but you can become a real expert in your niche yourself.
In fact, if you choose the right niche, there will be not that much competition and you can really get a pillar in your field.
Hence, you may even have the opportunity to gain some level of fame in the research community as a physicist.
You can work with the best people in your niche
In general, you will also be able to work with the smartest people in the world as a physicist, especially if you are a bright mind yourself and have the mental capabilities to work on this level.
Thus, if you are a mental prodigy and want to achieve extraordinary things in life, a career as a physicist will definitely one promising way to go for you.
Physicists have decent job security
Since physicists are needed in many different fields and can work both in research but also in the corporate world, you will not have to worry that much about your job prospects as a physicist.
In fact, if you are good enough, many doors will open for you and you will even be the one who can choose the company or institution you want to work for.
Disadvantages of Being a Physicist
- Most physicists don’t get rich
- You may have problems working in the corporate world
- Mostly advisable if you want to stay on the research track
- You often need a doctor’s degree
- Becoming a physicist is pretty tough
- Enormous student loan debt
- Many problems are too complex to solve
- Many people don’t have the mental capabilities to become a physicist
- Some problems you will deal with are just pretty abstract
- You need a real dedication to research
- Physicists often can’t apply most of their knowledge
- Many physicists become insane in the long run
Most physicists don’t get rich
Now that you know the upsides of becoming a physicist, let’s talk about some issues that come along with this education path. For instance, one disadvantage of being a physicist is that you will just not get rich, at least not if you are working for a research institution or in the corporate world.
Sure, you can start your own business and with plenty of work and luck, it might happen sooner or later. You can also earn pretty good money as an employee.
However, if you really want to have all the luxury of really rich people, you may want to go for a different career path instead.
You may have problems working in the corporate world
Some physicists also have serious problems with working in the corporate world after working in research for an extended period of time. This is due to the fact that research institutions and corporations work quite differently and corporations often demand results much sooner and the time pressure is higher in general.
Hence, once you are on the research track, it may be hard for you to change your mind and to adjust to the new challenge waiting for you in the corporate world.
Mostly advisable if you want to stay on the research track
Since many physicists have difficulties with switching from the research track to the corporate world, becoming a physicist mostly makes sense if you aspire to a research career from the beginning.
Moreover, even though you can work in many different fields as a physicist, you will often have less applicable knowledge than most of your colleagues in the corporate world who studied more applied stuff.
For instance, if you want to work in IT, it usually makes more sense to study IT-related majors instead of physics, even though you may also be able to do the job as a physicist in the long run.
You often need a doctor’s degree
If you really want to be taken seriously in the scientific community and want to work with the best people in your field, you also urgently need to get a doctor’s degree as a physicist.
In fact, without a doctor, you will not be able to work at a level that is required to make real progress in science and in such a case, you will just be forced to work in the corporate world.
Becoming a physicist is pretty tough
You not only need plenty of education for becoming a physicist, but you will also have to study pretty hard. Even though you may be a beautiful mind, many problems in physics are simply pretty tough and also your courses will be pretty difficult.
In fact, physics is one of the most difficult majors and if you don’t have the ambition to work really hard on it, chances are that you will just drop out of college without a degree.
Hence, make sure that becoming a physicist is really what you want to do with your life so that you keep motivated and push through difficult times.
Enormous student loan debt
Many physicists also have to take on huge amounts of student loan debt. Especially if you want to get a doctor’s degree in physics, you will study for a pretty long time and each year of studying will result in significant tuition fees and other expenses related to your college education.
This also implies that you will have to pay back those enormous amounts of money later on in your life and it can take many years for physicists to finally pay back those loans.
Many problems are too complex to solve
Another problem with being a physicist is that some problems in physics are just almost impossible to solve. In fact, our mental capacities as humans are just limited and even with the use of computers, there are some problems that seem to be unsolvable. Hence, you should keep that in mind when it comes to your expectations.
We as humans will likely never understand everything that’s going on in our universe and even the best people will never be able to solve all problems.
Some problems you will deal with are just pretty abstract
As a physicist, you should also not be afraid of dealing with pretty abstract and theoretical stuff. Many things, especially in theoretical physics, have just almost nothing to do with any application you could think of in real life.
You should also have a talent to work with numbers as a physicist. Many people struggle with those things and you just need a significant talent if you really want to make a significant contribution to the research world as a physicist.
Many people don’t have the mental capabilities to become a physicist
In fact, not many people have the mental abilities to become a physicist and even fewer will be able to succeed in this field. In fact, the average person will simply not be smart enough to deal with the complex issues that have to be solved in the physics world and you should take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself whether you are really smart enough for such a demanding career.
You need a real dedication to research
In general, especially if you want to stay on the research track as a physicist, you really need a passion for those theoretical constructs that often have nothing to do with our real world.
If you don’t have this passion, you will often just get lost and give up since problems seem to be unsolvable.
Physicists often can’t apply most of their knowledge
In general, since you will work on so much theoretical stuff as a physicist, you will often just not be able to apply your findings to real-world problems.
This can be quite frustrating since you will often feel that you are not able to harvest the true fruits of your labor.
Many physicists become insane in the long run
Since many problems in physics are such complex, some physicists just become mad sooner or later. While the risk for this may be rather small, you should really make sure that you have a stable mindset before deciding to become a physicist.
Top 10 Being a Physicist Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Being a Physicist Pros||Being a Physicist Cons|
|Physicists can earn decent money||Being a physicist can make you mad|
|You can work on important problems||You have to deal with complex issues|
|You can work for research institutions||Many problems are quite abstract|
|Physicists can also work for companies||Most physicists don’t get rich|
|You can work in many different fields||You have to be pretty smart|
|Being a physicist can be exciting||You have to get a college degree|
|You can work with really good people||Student loan debt is pretty common|
|You have regular workweeks||Physics can be pretty tough|
|You can work indoors||Many people don’t succeed in research|
|Physicists have decent job security||Hard to apply knowledge to the real world|
Should You Become A Physicist?
As we can see from the previous discussion, there are many advantages and disadvantages to being a physicist.
Now that you know all the pros and cons of working as a physicist, you have to decide whether a career in physics is suitable for you or if you rather want to go for other career opportunities instead.
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About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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