Job Description:

Physicists study matter and try to work out why it behaves like it does.

Job Category:
Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences

What you will do:

In your day to day tasks you could:

  • analyse theories and develop ideas
  • use computer simulations and mathematical modelling techniques
  • design and conduct experiments and supervise research

Depending on the sector you work in you could:

  • be involved in climate forecasting
  • teach in schools, colleges or universities
  • develop new medical instruments and treatments
  • work in satellite technology and space exploration
  • investigate new ways to generate power
  • explore robotics and artificial intelligence
  • use your knowledge to work in publishing, broadcasting or journalism


You’ll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of physics
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology

As well as:

  • analytical & critical thinking skills
  • science skills
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
  • adaptability to changing environment
  • team work and collaboration often with other scientists, engineers, and technicians
  • Adaptability: Physics is a rapidly evolving field
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To pursue a career in physics and lay a strong foundation during your GCSE years, it’s advisable to choose a combination of subjects that provide a well-rounded scientific and mathematical background, such as:

  1. Physics: This is the most important subject. It forms the basis of your understanding of the fundamental principles of the physical world.
  2. Mathematics: Mathematics is a crucial subject for physicists. Consider taking both GCSE Mathematics and GCSE Further Mathematics if available at your school, as it will help you develop strong mathematical skills, which are essential for advanced physics coursework.
  3. Chemistry: While not always a strict requirement, taking GCSE Chemistry can be beneficial. It provides valuable knowledge about chemical processes, which can be relevant in certain areas of physics.
  4. Biology: Again, not always required, but having a foundational understanding of biology can be helpful, especially if you plan to specialize in biophysics or related fields.
  5. Additional Sciences: Some schools offer combined science courses that cover biology, chemistry, and physics. This can be a good option if you want a broad scientific background.
  6. English Language and Literature: Strong communication skills are essential in any field, including physics. English will help you express your ideas effectively through writing and speaking.
  7. Computer Science: As modern physics research often involves extensive computer simulations and data analysis, having computer science skills can be advantageous.
  8. Statistics: Statistics can be useful for data analysis, which is an important aspect of experimental physics.

Remember that specific university or college entry requirements may vary, so it’s essential to check the admission requirements of the institutions you plan to apply to for your physics degree.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • a graduate trainee scheme

You’ll need a degree in physics, applied physics, or a related science or engineering subject. You may also need a relevant postgraduate qualification, like a master’s degree or PhD.

If you do not have the required entry qualifications to do a physics degree, you may be able to do a 1-year physics foundation course.

Some physics degrees combine an undergraduate degree and master’s qualification, like an MPhys or MSci. You’ll do more independent research and courses may lead directly onto further postgraduate study like a PhD.

You could do a level 7 research scientist degree apprenticeship.

This apprenticeship typically takes 30 months to complete.

It may give you some of the requirements you need to become a chartered physicist.

Other Routes
In some industries you may be able to start on a research scientist, graduate training scheme after completing your degree or postgraduate qualification.

Career tips
Try to get work experience to find out more about job roles and the sectors where you could apply your knowledge and skills as a physicist. Look out for:

  • work placements
  • internships and vacation schemes

Working Hours and Environment:

Typical you could work 35-40 hours a week, including
evenings / weekends / occasionally bank holidays.

You could work at a research facility, in a laboratory or at a university.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and you may spend nights away from home.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career Path & Progression:

Physicists work in lots of sectors of the economy and their skills are often transferable across them.

With experience, you can take on more responsibility and manage the work of other scientists.

In higher education you could progress from postdoctoral research roles to senior lecturer positions and professor.

You could also become a consultant or special adviser or work in science communication.