Willard S. Boyle

Condensed Matter Physics, crystals, magnets, superconductors, semiconductors

Co-Inventor of the Charge Coupled Device for which he won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics

"Know how to judge when to persevere and when to quit. If you're going to do something, do it well. You don't have to be better than everyone else, but you ought to do your personal best."

So You Want to Be a Physicist

It takes about as many years to become a physicist as any other professional, such as a lawyer or a medical doctor — approximately 10 years of schooling. Many opportunities exist for physicists beyond what we conventionally imagine a physicist would do. A perfect example of this is the analysis of stock markets by theoretical physicists — potentially a way to make a lot of money, too. Physicists can apply their knowledge of mathematics and of how physical systems behave to infer information about stocks, biology, medicine, drug interactions and many other phenomena in the world around us.

Hourly average wages of physicists are typically higher than national average wages, and they are usually also above average for occupations in the natural and applied science sectors. Wages of professionals in the physical sciences have grown at an above-average rate in recent years. Unemployment fell for people working in the physical sciences during the 1990s and early 2000s and is at about two percent right now, so one has a good chance of getting a job as a physicist.

Typical physics careers include specialties in electronics, communications, aerospace, remote sensing, biophysics, nuclear physics, optics, plasma physics, solid state physics, astrophysics, cosmology or experimental physics.

Career ideas:

  • research scientist, physics
  • research scientist, electronics
  • research scientist, communications
  • research scientist, aerospace
  • research scientist, remote sensing
  • nuclear physicist
  • optics physicist
  • plasma physicist
  • solid state physicist
  • astrophysicist
  • cosmologist
  • experimental physicist

Other scientists who may be of interest:

The ScienceThe Person