PhD Degree in Physics: Jobs & Salary

A PhD in Physics can provide candidates with access to senior and managerial positions in a wide variety of industries. This article will analyze the top major careers that recent graduates can apply for with a completed PhD degree in Physics.

10 Careers that Require a PhD Degree in Physics

Physics Professor

Physics Professors can work both in a laboratory and classroom setting, in order to provide post-secondary students with information related to current and classic physics theories, while also conducting their own research and leading students in experiment-style learning. Physics professors are also integral in leading new physics research and publishing their work in academic journals. A PhD in Physics allows graduates to move seamlessly into a teaching environment and continue research in their area of interest.

Particle Physicist

A particle physicist focuses on the structure of matter and uses the Standard Model to understand how everything in the universe is structured and how it's held together. Students with a PhD in Physics are good candidates to become a particle physicist, as they already have a deep understanding of particle theory and the structure of molecules and atoms.

Senior Financial Analyst

A Senior financial analyst has a managerial position in a financial institution and is responsible for analyzing financial statements, preparing financial reports and developing financial projections for in-house use. Obtaining a PhD in Physics allows students to take on a more senior position and provides students with knowledge in mathematical theory that allows them to excel in the financial sector.


Biophysicists utilize data analysis, computer modeling and bio-engineering to source many global issues, such as eradicating disease, producing renewable energy sources, and designing brand new technology. They also have the ability to work in a wide variety of environments, including hospitals, universities, and engineering companies. Obtaining a PhD in Physics ensures that candidates have the knowledge in molecule structure, quantitative research methods, and mathematical theory to excel in this role.


Astronomers are experts in applying the laws of physics and math to understand the relationship between matter and energy throughout the universe. This work can be conducted in a university laboratory, or at a planetarium, museum, or government agency. Those who have completed a PhD in Physics are top candidates for this role, as most astronomers continue to work in universities in order to continue their research in navigation, matter, and space flight.


Nanotechnologists conduct research to understand various structures on both the atomic and subatomic levels, giving a greater understanding as to how to control atoms and how everything on earth is structured. Nanotechnologists will also work to make new materials at the nano level to understand their stronger, lighter and greater reactive properties. Those with a PhD in Physics will be able to obtain a senior position or even direct nanotechnology research.

Optical Engineer

Optical Engineers apply theories in optics to understand how light is created, how it moves, how it is detected, and how to create new technology that can detect and manipulate light. Those who wish to have a career as an Optical Engineer are required to have a PhD in Physics, in order to ensure they have a sound understanding of mathematics and an analytical mind.

Technical Marketing Engineer

Technical Marketing Engineers often work as the point of contact for clients, creating proposals and quotations, and designing sales literature for a wide variety of industries, including electrical, biomedical and aeronautical. Having a PhD in Physics ensures candidates have the expertise required to provide proper technical advice and education to these widely physics-based industries.

Research Engineer

Research engineers plan, manage and create research projects for a variety of government, academic and manufacturing institutions, in order to aid in the development of new technology and advise decision-makers. A Research engineer must be willing to look into different fields, conduct literary reviews and interview experts in other areas to come up with solutions to complex global problems. Research Engineers must have an analytical mind and strong math skills. Therefore, a PhD in Physics is a major asset to this career.

Analytical Chemist

An Analytical chemist performs laboratory experiments to understand the chemical makeup of a substance and will use this data to create reports and solve problems for a wide variety of industries, such as food quality, water safety and the pharmaceutical industry. This role requires a deep understanding of mathematics and analytical analysis. A PhD in Physics ensures applicants have the laboratory research and mathematical background required to start out in a managerial role within this position.

Career TitleSalary (2018)*Job Outlook (2018-2028)*
Physics Professor$103,83011%
Particle Physicist$125,2809%
Senior Financial Analyst$104,0506%
Optical Engineer$117,1002%
Technical Marketing Engineer$58,0008%
Research Engineer$123,8504%
Analytical Chemist$85,4004%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics