Physicist

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Six year jobs forecast

The information is supplied by LMI For All

What's it like?

You would study the world around us and the scientific laws that make objects behave as they do. Your research would help develop all kinds of technology.

If you worked in theoretical analysis you would come up with theories. You would run models to predict and explain behaviours.

If you worked in experimental pure and applied research you would carry out experiments to put theories to the test.

You could specialise in many different fields.

For example, you might:

  • Work on climate forecasting
  • Improve medical processes
  • Develop analytical tools
  • Work on satellites and space exploration
  • Find new ways to generate power
  • Work with robots and artificial intelligence
  • Teach in schools, colleges or universities
  • Work in publishing, broadcasting or journalism

You would write up your findings in reports for project managers, scientific journals and funding bodies. You might also present your work at scientific meetings and conferences.

It would be important to have a good understanding of statistics and relevant computer software.

Working conditions

Hours

You would usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday

Environment

Your workplace could range from a laboratory, workshop or factory, to the outdoors carrying out fieldwork. You may have to wear protective clothing for some jobs to prevent contamination and contact with hazardous substances.

Travel

Fieldwork is likely to involve travel and working away from home, possibly for weeks or months at a time.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Presenting to people
  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Working on your own
  • Accuracy
  • Using computers
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Being logical
  • Researching and investigating
  • Planning and organising

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in a subject such as physics or applied physics. Or in a related science like engineering, mathematics or astronomy.

Most physicists also have postgraduate qualifications such as a Master of Science (MSc) or a Doctoral degree (SCQF Level 11/12). 

Entry requirements for courses vary. For undergraduate courses, you would need at least four Highers at B or above. Some universities may require four Highers at AAAA taken in one sitting. An Advanced Higher in Maths would be useful. 

Some universities offer an integrated Master's (SCQF Level 11) which combines a degree and Master's course over five years. 

You might be able to gain entry to a degree course with an HND in Applied Science (SCQF Level 7). 

Edinburgh College offers an Access to Physical Science (SWAP) course which allows people with few or no formal qualifications to move towards a degree.

Useful subjects

Many courses require:

  • Physics
  • Maths