Energy and matter are the cornerstones of physics, which studies the interaction between the two. The field is so broad that careers involving physics are numerous: astronomy, medicine, chemistry, electronics, computer science, radiology, meteorology and many more.
Physics in Scientific Research
Scientific research is one place to find disciplines that use physics. Physicists study the elemental aspects of space, time, matter and energy. They might conduct theoretical research or use physics to develop equipment such as electron microscopes or lasers. Astronomers study the universe, including planets, suns, moons and asteroids. Atmospheric scientists -- including meteorologists -- study climate and the weather. All of these scientists need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and many have advanced education, such as a doctorate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS notes atmospheric scientists earned the least in this group, with an average annual salary of $88,140 in 2013. Astronomers took home $110,440, and physicists earned the most, at $117,040.
Physics in Education
Many high school teachers use physics in the classroom. Aside from those who teach physics itself, high school chemistry and biology teachers include physics concepts in their classes. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum preparation for most high school teaching positions, according to the BLS. A high school teacher must also complete an internship or residency to gain experience. Teachers may also need a license or certification, depending on the state. High school teachers made an average annual salary of $58,260 in 2013, according to the BLS.
Radiation and Imaging Technology
In medicine, radiological imaging and therapy are heavily oriented to physics. Physicians in this field include radiation oncologists, who treat cancer with radiation. Allied health occupations in the field include radiological technicians, who perform X-rays, and radiation therapists, who perform the treatments ordered by a radiation oncologist. In the first group, a doctorate, M.D. or D.O. are necessary, and physicians must have a license. In the second group, an associate degree is the most common preparation, according to the BLS, although some have a bachelor’s degree. Licensure or certification -- or both -- are typically necessary. Salaries varied widely for this group in 2013. Radiological technologists earned $56,760, radiation therapists took home $81,740 and physicians had the highest earnings, at $191,880.
Engineering the World
Most engineers use physics in their work. Aerospace engineers apply the principles of physics in the design of aircraft, especially in matters of wind resistance and air speed. Civil engineers apply the principles of physics to the construction of structures, roads and dams, while mechanical engineers use physics to design tools, engines and machines. In 2013, civil engineers had the lowest earnings in the group, at $85,640, while mechanical engineers took home $85,930, according to the BLS. Aerospace engineers earned the most, with an average annual salary of $105,450.