What do Physical Scientists Do?
A physical scientist is someone who does research in a specific field of study within the scope of science. It is common for you to work in a laboratory and spend your day conducting experiments. This includes developing theories and then testing them using the scientific method. This involves observing and analyzing the data to reach a conclusion.Employment for physical scientists is increasing nationwide. In 2012 there was an average of 31,200 jobs, with a projected 33,100 in 2022. It is projected that there will be 830 annual job openings with a 6% growth increase.
Physical Scientists Skills and Abilities
It is important that you know the principles and facts of the field of study that you will be conducting your research in. You will also need to have a working knowledge of mathematics. This includes:
- AlgebraThere are basic skills that you need to establish before you begin conducting extensive research. This will ensure that you are able to accurately solve problems using the scientific method and rules. Even if it is complex, you should be able to review information, evaluate the various options and implement the proper solutions. Your writing needs to be effective, and your critical thinking skills are imperative for arriving at logical conclusions to your research. Some abilities that you will need include:
- Inductive reasoning
- Deductive reasoning
- Mathematical reasoning
- Information ordering
- Problem sensitivity
- Written comprehension
- Reading comprehension
- Oral comprehension
Physical Scientists Duties
Since physical scientists work with a lot of data, it is likely that most of your duties will involve processing and analyzing that information. You will be breaking it down into smaller parts so that you will be able to identify any underlying reasons, facts or principles. Processing the data will involve activities such as:
- Compiling data
- Installing software
- Verifying information
- Formatting data
- Calculating data
- Categorizing information
- Coding data
- Auditing data
- Participating in fieldwork
- Training any technicians
There are other duties that involve tasks that occur after the processing of data. This includes developing any databases or software that is needed, as well as evaluating all technology that is being used.
Physical Scientists Tools and Technology
Due to the nature of the occupation, technology plays a key role in its success. You will want to be very familiar with all the equipment that can be used to collect and interpret data. This may involve analytical or operating system software, which can typically be used on a computer. Some tools are more complex to use. However, they offer excellent ways to record information, such as infrared imagers or spectrographs.
Education and Training for Physical Scientists
It is most common, around 51.8%, for physical scientists to have obtained a doctoral or professional degree. However, some have obtained only a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. It is a good idea to enter the field with at least a Bachelor’s degree, and it is likely that you will not need any on-the-job training or work experience before you begin.
Physical Scientists Salary
It is well known that this occupation generally makes a lot of money. The salaries for physical scientists in the United States range from $127,500 annually to around $51,500. Even though the range is diverse, the median annual wage is still pretty good at $94,000.
Physical Scientists Jobs by Geography
The wages vary across states, but the highest paying location is the District of Columbia, with Virginia and Illinois ranking second and third respectively. The states with the highest projected growth percentage are Georgia, California and Florida. These locations seem to be a great option if you are looking for a place with a lot of employment potential. It may also be helpful to note that Maryland and California employ the most physical scientists overall.