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Physicists and Astronomers

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NOC:2111
Occupation:Physicists and Astronomers
Category:Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

About the job

Nature of work:

Physicists conduct theoretical and applied research to extend knowledge of natural phenomena and to develop new processes and devices in fields such as electronics, communications, power generation and distribution, aerodynamics, optics and lasers, remote sensing, biotechnology, medicine and health. They are employed by electronic, electrical and aerospace manufacturing companies, telecommunications companies, power utilities, university and government research laboratories, hospitals, and by a wide range of other processing, manufacturing, and research and consulting firms.

Astronomers conduct observational and theoretical research to extend knowledge of the universe. They are employed by government and universities.

Job duties:
Physicists perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Design and conduct research in experimental and theoretical physics.
  • Carry out analysis of 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.
Astronomers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Design and conduct 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.

Physicists may specialize in fields such as 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 may specialize in fields such as 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:

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

Job requirements:
  • Physicists usually require a master's or doctoral degree in a field of physics, engineering physics, or in a related discipline.
  • Astronomers usually require 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. Progression to management positions is possible with experience.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Undetermined

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

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)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Physicists and Astronomers50xxx
Minimum:  N/A
Median:  N/A
Maximum:  N/A
Minimum:  N/A
Median: $85,832
Maximum:  N/A
Occupations in Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology25,875Strong growth3,095Low
Minimum: $17.69
Median: $31.35
Maximum: $47.18
Minimum: $13,568
Median: $60,422
Maximum: $107,009
Physicists and AstronomersCompared to: Occupations in Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology
Percent employed full-time100%94%
Percent self-employed3%7%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentPhysicists and AstronomersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Southernxx12%$30,581
Northernxx16%$33,660
Cape Breton20%x13%$32,974
Halifax70%x47%$41,209
Annapolis Valleyxx13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgePhysicists and AstronomersCompared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology
% Employed% Employed
15-24N/Ax
25-3450%14%
35-44N/A33%
45-54N/A32%
55-6450%18%
65+N/A4%
Median Age3943
GenderPhysicists and AstronomersCompared to: Occupations in Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology
% Employed% Employed
Female0%20%
Male100%80%
EducationPhysicists and AstronomersCompared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high schoolN/Ax0.7%$28,107
High schoolN/Ax12.1%$35,125
Trades certificateN/Ax6.8%$54,923
College certificate or diploma20.0%x33.7%$52,476
University certificate or diplomaN/Ax3.7%$52,446
Bachelor's degree20.0%$61,50829.7%$58,011
University advanced certificate or diplomaN/A$100,7122.0%$54,917
Master's degreeN/A$77,9389.7%$37,706
Doctorate20.0%$98,8081.7%$65,565
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometry50.0%x0.1%$57,566
Total100%100%
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.

Sources

Employment Requirements & Contacts

Regulations:
No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
,
Tel: (250) 363-6951
Kevin.Farris@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
Canadian Astronomical Society
100 Viaduct Ave W
Victoria, BC V9E 1J3
casca@casca.ca
Canadian Association of Physicists
555 King Edward Avenue, 3rd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7N5
Tel: (613) 562-5614
Fax: (613) 562-5615
capmem@uottawa.ca

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Astronomy
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any general program that focuses on the planetary, galactic, and stellar phenomena occurring in outer space. These programs 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.
See all institutions providing this program+
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
(902) 420-5400
admission.status@smu.ca
Program Name:Astrophysics
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the theoretical and observational study of the structure, properties, and behaviour of stars, star systems and clusters, stellar life cycles, and related phenomena. These programs 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.
See all institutions providing this program+
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
(902) 420-5400
admission.status@smu.ca
Program Name:Information technology
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the design of technological information systems, including computing systems, as solutions to business and research data and communications support needs. These programs include courses in the principles of computer hardware and software components, algorithms, databases, telecommunications, user tactics, application testing, and human interface design.
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Success College
800 Sackville Drive
Lower Sackville, NS B4E 1R8
(902) 865-8283
Acadia University
15 University Avenue
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6
(902) 542-2201
agi@acadiau.ca
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2J6
(902) 457-6117
admissions@msvu.ca
St. Francis Xavier University
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5
(902) 867-2219
admit@stfx.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus
50 Elliott Road
Lawrencetown, NS B0S 1M0
(902) 825-3491
avc.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus
372 Pleasant Street
Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2
(902) 742-3501
burridge.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus
5685 Leeds Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2T3
(902) 491-6722
it.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus
PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6J7
(902) 563-2450
marconi.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus
36 Arthur Street
Truro, NS B2N 1X5
(902) 893-5385
truro.info@nscc.ca
Nova Scotia Community College - Waterfront Campus & Aviation Institute
80 Mawiomi Place
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 0A5
(902) 491-1100
waterfront.info@nscc.ca
Program Name:Materials science
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses 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.
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Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
Program Name:Physics - General
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the college or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any general program that focuses on the scientific study of matter and energy, and the formulation and testing of the laws governing the behaviour of the matter-energy continuum. These programs 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.
See all institutions providing this program+
Acadia University
15 University Avenue
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6
(902) 542-2201
agi@acadiau.ca
Dalhousie University
Office of the Registrar
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
(902) 494-2450
admissions@dal.ca
University of King's College
6350 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS B3H 2A1
(902) 422-1271
admissions@ukings.ca
Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS B3M 2J6
(902) 457-6117
admissions@msvu.ca
St. Francis Xavier University
PO Box 5000
Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5
(902) 867-2219
admit@stfx.ca
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
(902) 420-5400
admission.status@smu.ca
Cape Breton University
PO Box 5300 1250 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6L2
(888) 959-9995
registrar@cbu.ca
Additional resources:

There are no additional resources for this occupation.

Work Occupation Video(s)

Physicist