Physicists and Astronomers

(NOC 2111)

in All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

Physicists investigate why and how our physical world behaves the way it does. They use physics to support process or product development in fields like electronics, communications, power generation and distribution, aerodynamics, optics and lasers, remote sensing, biotechnology, medicine, and health. They work for electronic, electrical and aerospace manufacturers, telecommunications companies, power utilities, university and government research laboratories, hospitals, and a wide range of other processing, manufacturing, and research and consulting firms. Astronomers do observational and theoretical research to extend knowledge of the universe. They work for government and universities.

Job Outlook

Undetermined

Read more

  • Estimate change in employment not available for this occupation.
  • Estimate openings due to growth and retirements not available for this occupation.
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for this occupation.

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

  • Estimate 705 employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 2585 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent. With a moderate percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to contribute somewhat to employment opportunities over the coming years. Physicists and Astronomers most commonly work full-time hours.

The median employment income for 90% of Physicists and Astronomers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $85,616. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

Hourly Pay

N/A

Minimum

N/A

Median

N/A

Maximum

Annual Pay

N/A

Minimum

$85,832

Median

N/A

Maximum

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

Hourly Pay

$18.00

Minimum

$37.80

Median

$48.46

Maximum

Annual Pay

$13,568

Minimum

$60,422

Median

$107,009

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Physicists investigate why and how our physical world behaves the way it does. They use physics to support process or product development in fields like electronics, communications, power generation and distribution, aerodynamics, optics and lasers, remote sensing, biotechnology, medicine, and health. They work for electronic, electrical and aerospace manufacturers, telecommunications companies, power utilities, university and government research laboratories, hospitals, and a wide range of other processing, manufacturing, and research and consulting firms.

Astronomers do observational and theoretical research to extend knowledge of the universe. They work for government and universities.

Job duties

Physicists:

  • Design and carry out research in experimental and theoretical physics.
  • Analyze research data and prepare research reports.
  • Participate as a member of a research or development team in the design and development of experimental, industrial or medical equipment, instrumentation and procedures.
  • Physicists may specialize in fields like aeronomy and space, acoustics, atomic and molecular physics, biophysics, condensed matter or solid state physics, electromagnetics, fluids and aerodynamics, health physics, medical physics, metrology, particle physics, optics and laser physics, nuclear physics and plasma physics.

Astronomers:

  • Design and carry out observational surveys, conduct detailed analyses and develop numerical models to extend knowledge of celestial bodies and cosmic radiation.
  • Develop or participate in the development of instrumentation and software for astronomical observation and analysis.
  • Astronomers may specialize in fields like astrophysics, observational or optical astronomy and radio astronomy.

Sample job titles

  • aerospace research scientist
  • astronomer
  • biophysicist
  • communications research scientist
  • cosmologist
  • electronics research scientist
  • molecular biophysicist
  • nuclear physicist
  • physicist
  • physics research scientist

Skills

You should be imaginative, patient, persistent, and curious. Mathematical, analytical, and mechanical abilities are essential. You must be able to carry out research, use computers, and perform complex calculations. Communication skills are also important, as scientists often work in teams.

Job requirements

  • Physicists usually need a master's or doctoral degree in a field of physics, engineering physics, or in a related discipline.
  • Astronomers usually need a master's or doctoral degree in astronomy or in a related discipline.

Other considerations

Although the number of job openings for physicists and astronomers is likely to remain limited, the supply of new people qualified to work in these jobs is also limited by the significant investment in education that is required. Physicists may work closely with and perform some of the duties of engineers. Mobility between specializations within physics and within astronomy is possible with experience as is mobility to the fields of meteorology, geophysics and other fields of science. Movement to management positions is possible with experience. Travel may be required.

By the numbers

Quick look

50

employed in 2016

90.0%

employed full-time

0.0%

self employed

20.0%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
80%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
38.7

median age

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

25,875

employed in 2016

91.5%

employed full-time

7.6%

self employed

20.0%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
80%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
42.8

median age

Where will I likely work?

77.8%

Halifax

22.2%

Cape Breton

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

16.7%

Professional, scientific and technical services

16.7%

Educational services

16.7%

Health care and social assistance

16.7%

Other services (except public administration)

16.7%

Manufacturing

What is the age of Employment?

50.0%

25-34

30.0%

35-44

20.0%

55-64

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

24.2%

25-34

23.5%

45-54

23.4%

35-44

16.4%

55-64

7.7%

15-24

Top levels of education

50.0%

Doctorate

N/A
20.0%

College Diploma

N/A
20.0%

Master

N/A

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

33.1%

College Diploma

$59,986 median annual income
29.8%

Bachelor

$63,965 median annual income
11.9%

High school

$45,835 median annual income
9.9%

Master

$65,105 median annual income
6.9%

Apprenticeship

$57,773 median annual income

Education & training

Astronomy

University Program

These programs focus on the planetary, galactic, and stellar phenomena occurring in outer space. They include courses in celestial mechanics, cosmology, stellar physics, galactic evolution, quasars, stellar distribution and motion, interstellar medium, atomic and molecular constituents of astronomical phenomena, planetary science, solar system evolution, and specific methodologies such as optical astronomy, radioastronomy, and theoretical astronomy.

Institutions providing this program

Saint Mary's University

Halifax, NS

Astrophysics

University Program

These programs focus on the theoretical and observational study of the structure, properties, and behaviour of stars, star systems and clusters, stellar life cycles, and related phenomena. They include courses in cosmology, plasma kinetics, stellar physics, convolution and non-equilibrium radiation transfer theory, non-Euclidean geometries, mathematical modelling, galactic structure theory, and relativistic astronomy.

Institutions providing this program

Saint Mary's University

Halifax, NS

Information Technology

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs focus on the design of technological information systems, including computing systems, as solutions to business and research data and communications support needs. They include courses in the principles of computer hardware and software components, algorithms, databases, telecommunications, user tactics, application testing, and human interface design.

Institutions providing this program

Acadia University

Wolfville, NS

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus

Yarmouth, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute

Port Hawkesbury, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Ivany Campus

Dartmouth, NS

Materials Science

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs focus on the general application of mathematical and scientific principles to the analysis and evaluation of the characteristics and behaviour of solids, including internal structure, chemical properties, transport and energy flow properties, thermodynamics of solids, stress and failure factors, chemical transformation states and processes, compound materials, and research on industrial applications of specific materials.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

Physics

College or University Program

These programs focus on the scientific study of matter and energy, and the formulation and testing of the laws governing the behaviour of the matter-energy continuum. They include courses in classical and modern physics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, mechanics, wave properties, nuclear processes, relativity and quantum theory, quantitative methods, and laboratory methods.

Institutions providing this program

Acadia University

Wolfville, NS

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

University of King's College

Halifax, NS

Mount Saint Vincent University

Halifax, NS

St. Francis Xavier University

Antigonish, NS

Saint Mary's University

Halifax, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile

Contacts

Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
British Columbia, Canada
Canadian Astronomical Society
Victoria, BC
Canadian Association of Physicists
Ottawa, ON

Additional resources

There are no additional resources for this occupation.