14 Pros and Cons of Being a Physicist

Long before Issac Newton was a Sir, he was a college student escaping the plague.

Lucky for us, he not only avoided the deadly disease but he made the most of his time.

While on break, he discovered gravity, optics, and calculus.

Clearly, busy was an understatement.

This was the early life of the very first physicist. 

In the three centuries since physics has evolved into an entire branch of science that deals specifically with matter and energy.

If being part of an ever-evolving topic sounds fascinating to you, stay tuned.

We’re going to dissect the positives and negatives of becoming a physicist. 

Pros of Being a Physicist

1. Standout Physicist

Due to the nature of the job, it might not be as hard to be notable as you think.

Physics is a research-heavy field.

There is often something interesting to point out about a finding that is good enough to get published.

Once you start getting your stuff out there, recognition by the physics community at large is around the corner.

The more you put out, the more opportunities you’ll have to talk about the research you’re working on.

Connections, here we come!

2. Salary

As much as you love physics, it’s also nice to have a roof over your head.

Unfortunately, ideas don’t pay bills.

All the dedication and years of study have paid off as a physicist, however.

While a starting salary may not be amazing, many experienced physicists can make upwards of $250,000 a year.

Perhaps more if you include outside projects such as writing a book. 

3. Reliable Schedule

If you prefer having a job where the schedule is set in stone, physics can help.

Typically, physicists work in an office setting and can expect to have a normal workday.

Weekends and holidays are free.

There’s no need to plan around long nights or being on call, especially in a research setting.

There is a lot of fascinating work to be done, but it can wait until Monday.

4. Unending Options

There are so many ways to put your expertise to use.

Most commonly, physics research is associated with universities.

If you want to be a physicist but can’t imagine being stuck on campus forever, especially after getting a doctorate, that’s okay!

There is no need to limit yourself. 

Look into engineering, education, law, medicine, business, or even the military. 

5. Being an Expert

There are many people in careers whose degree has nothing to do with the job they are in.

These are jobs that don’t require expertise.

Many employers specifically look for college graduates, but not necessarily in a specific field.

Graduating college just means that you can see things through and are capable in many capacities.

Physics is not one of those fields.

By the time you graduate and enter professional life, you are an expert specifically in the field you’re working in. 

6. Mobility

Physics is a great branch of science to get into.

It also happens to be one that can work in other branches.

Being an expert in physics means you can dip in and out of other types of scientific research.

Many view physics as the foundation of science, generally speaking.

So, essentially, you could use experience and knowledge as a physicist to try out other things over time.

If you work in a company with other types of science departments, you can at least help out in other areas from time to time. Variety is always nice.

7. Rewarding

Not only can a career in physics be a great way to exercise that mathematical muscle, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Being a physicist is one of those careers that is bigger than itself.

You aren’t just showing up and doing busy work.

It’s possible that the project you are working on will go into future science textbooks.

The discoveries made in physics expand out into the community and beyond. 

Cons of Being a Physicist

1. Higher Education

As wildly interesting as physics can be, you have to really be into the subject to make it a career.

That dedication level goes all the way up to getting a doctorate in the subject.

Without a Ph.D., it’s unlikely you’ll get to build a career in the field.

There are publishing requirements to graduate, which require tons of research.

All that makes you a more reliable physicist.

Credibility is the name of the game, especially for getting noticed.

A doctorate is how you get there.

Let’s not even get started on the potential student loan debt.  

2. Unending Problems

Much of science is meant to solve problems and figure things out.

We use that knowledge to make life better.

That’s the idea, anyway.

When you’re invested in figuring out a problem, not seeing it through can be a challenge.

The reality is, there are some problems in physics that can’t be easily figured out.

There are scientists who spend their whole careers on problems that are too complex to solve.

Imagine retiring and never being able to wrap up a solution.

3. A Brilliant Mind

While being required to get a doctorate could be viewed as an unfair challenge, it does have a bright side.

Aside from the financial detriment that can bring, the Ph.D. journey also weeds out people who can’t intellectually stay focused on physics.

If you’re in the program and are hitting brick walls, perhaps the work is too complex for you to enjoy.

It honestly takes a particular mind to work around the often abstract concepts in physics.

Just as with any job, it’s not for everyone. 

4. Talking About Work

You might not be the most fun at parties.

Of course, it’s not really your problem that people aren’t quite as cultured as they should be.

However, a lot of what you do might go over the layperson’s head.

It’s not their fault either, a lot of what a physicist does is deep.

Some might even say it’s way out there, like space.

Appropriately, so.

But still, getting excited about these cool things you’ve learned might be hard for others to grasp.  

5. Loss of Entertainment

Part of the magic of watching a sci-fi movie is believing everything they say.

Sure, some of it is having to suspend logic, but much of it sounds so futuristic that it’s acceptable.

When you’re a trained physicist, that changes everything.

Nothing is quite as fun as when you know the characters are talking smack.

It’s sort of equivalent to knowing how the magic trick is done or peering behind the curtain in Oz.

Once you know the truth, you can’t go back.

Who took the whoopee out of the cushion?

6. Multitude of Reading

Just as you’re out there pouring over research, so are other physicists in the world.

That means that the advances come quickly, sort of like technology.

Reading is going to be your new best friend.

If you aren’t keeping up with all the reading material, it’s easy to get left behind.

That’s in addition to what you’re already doing on a daily basis.

Subscribing to scientific journals and reading about physics in your free time is ahead.

7. Career Change

If at some point down the road, you want or need to switch out of a physics career, it might be tough.

Unless you transition into another branch of science, leaving the whole field behind will come across as confusing to employers.

The field of physics is so specific that there’s not a whole lot of overlap in other careers.

You might have to start from the bottom on another area and that might be too much of a financial and professional cost to bear.

Pros and Cons of Being a Physicist – Summary Table

Pros of Being a PhysicistCons of Being a Physicist
1. Standout Physicist1. Higher Education
2. Salary2. Unending Problems
3. Reliable Schedule3. A Brilliant Mind
4. Unending Options4. Talking About Work
5. Being an Expert5. Loss of Entertainment
6. Mobility6. Multitude of Reading
7. Rewarding7. Career Change

Should You Become a Physicist?

Any branch of the science field should have good job security.

There is no automation and it is a hands-on career. 

If you have a passion for physics and get wrapped up in the span of the universe and how bodies gravitate toward each other, please become a physicist.

If you have a love for it, the possibilities of discovery are endless.

This is the type of job that will always be exciting because there will always be something new to figure out.

The world needs more passionate people in the sciences. 

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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