Research and Development



Related Jobs or Working with these Jobs



Clerical or OrganisingAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

Physicists study the nature of all matter and energy, including structures, behaviour, formation/generation and the interactions between the two. Physics can broadly be divided into theoretical physics and experimental physics. Theoretical physics involves developing models, or Future Growth Very Strong theories, which attempt to explain and predict how and why certain aspects of the world work and behave. Experimental physics involves testing these theories, determining their limits and using the results to amend or strengthen the theory as appropriate. All physicists will generally work in both of these areas to some degree. Physicists working at universities will also be required to spend time teaching students.

ANZSCO description: Studies matter, space, time, energy, forces and fields and the interrelationship between these physical phenomena to further understanding of the laws governing the behaviour of the universe, and seeks to apply these laws to solve practical problems and discover new information about the earth and the universe.  

Alternative names: Physical Scientist

Specialisations: Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Biophysicist, Condensed Matter Physicist, Health Physicist, Medical Physicist, Nanotechnologist, Nuclear Physicist, Optical Physicist, Petrophysicist

Famous Physicists
(Source: Curiosity)

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A physicist needs:

  • the ability to make accurate and detailed observations

  • a methodical and analytical approach to work

  • strong communication skills

  • the ability to think clearly and logically

  • good problem solving skills

  • patience 

Working Conditions

Physicists usually work in laboratories, offices or workshops, though some may also carry out fieldwork in various environments, depending on the nature of their research. Many physicists work in universities, where they split their time between teaching and research work, however there are also opportunities to work in government organisations or private industry. They may work with radioactive substances and other restricted and/or potentially harmful materials, which require strict safety and control procedures to be followed to minimise danger. Physicists usually work standard business hours, however overtime or weekend work may be required when setting up and carrying out experiments or when conducting fieldwork. 

Tools and technologies

Physicists use a variety of highly specialised instruments and laboratory equipment to conduct, record and analyse experiments. Depending on the nature of the experiment, this equipment may be used to heat or cool materials to extreme temperatures, generate and measure electrical currents, examine the atomic structure of matter, and carry out many other highly technical and specialised tasks. They must also be familiar with computers to control equipment, run simulations and to write reports based on their findings. 

Educational Requirements
To become a physicist you usually need to study a degree in science with major in physics or nanotechnology. To improve your employment prospects, you may need to complete further postgraduate study.

Did You Know?

There have been two Australians who have been awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics:

2011 Brian P. Schmidt

"for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae"

1964 Alexander M. Prokhorov
[born in Australia but went back to Russia with his parents when he was 7]

"for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle" shared with Charles H. Townes and Nicolay G. Basov.

(Source: Wikipedia)





Environmental Scientist

Marine Biologist

Museum Curator





Agricultural Scientist

Industrial Designer









Soil Scientist







University Lecturer

Exercise Sports Scientist



Political Scientist