Physical Science

Earnings Potential

This broad occupation includes Astronomers, Physicists, Atmospheric and Space Scientists, Chemists, Materials Scientists, Environmental Scientists, Geoscientists and Hydrologists.  A  Physical Scientist typically earns between $72,560 - $101,986 per year (CNN 


Facts at a glance

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9-17% increase in Atmospheric Scientist and Environmental Scientist jobs through 2014.  The job outlook for Chemists and Physicists expected to increase up to 8% through 2014 (USDL).

•    CNN ranks Physical Scientist as # 16 on it list of the 50 Best Jobs in America.  

•    CNN projects a 12.18% job growth over the next 10 years.  

Summary of what this career entails

Physical Scientists study, research and analyze the inorganic world, as opposed to the organic world, which belongs to the field of biological science.  The four broad areas of Physical Science are: astronomy, physics, chemistry, and the earth sciences (  

An Astronomer studies, researches, and analyzes celestial phenomena. They develop research methodologies to solve problems in physics and mathematics (

A Chemist studies, researches and analyzes various chemical and physical properties of both organic and inorganic compounds so as to determine their medical applications and relevance to industries. Sometimes Chemists are hired as consultants on complex projects and are considered top level contributors/specialists. (
Environmental Scientists and Hydrologists study, research and analyze the physical makeup and history of the Earth in order to protect the environment.  Other areas of research and study include: underground and surface waters, energy resources, water-related geologic hazards, environmental site assessments, indoor air quality, hazardous-waste-site remediation, and environmental pollution (USDL).
Examples and or details of work

According to University of British Columbia researcher Kai Chan, a new ecosystems conservation model can help resolve the conflict between wilderness advocates and landowners.  "Efforts to save wildlife often play out within a win-lose framework that pits conservation against economic opportunity," says Asst. Prof. Chan.  "But this framework overlooks the fact that ecosystems also provide great benefits to people, in the form of ecosystem services" (Science Daily News).
In an online article published on October 31st,  2006 entitled “NASA approves Hubble repair”, writer Geoff Brumfiel reportes on NASA’s plan to repair the aging Hubble Space Telescope.  The agency announced that a shuttle servicing mission is scheduled for May 2008.  The space shuttle Discovery will take a team of astronauts to the Hubble.  The crew will boost the satellite into a higher orbit, replace its ageing batteries and gyroscopes, and install some new instruments (Brumfiel).

On November 3, 2006, Ohio State University chemists announced that they have devised a new way to create tiny molecular rings that could one day function as drug delivery devices or antibiotics.  The rings are made from polymers, or large molecules that are made up of many smaller molecules, and the chemical reaction that creates them is similar to others that create polymer chains. But this new reaction solely makes rings, ones tailored to perform specific functions (Gorder).

Degrees that lead to this career

A bachelor’s degree is adequate for a few entry-level positions.  However, a master’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for most entry-level applied research positions in private industry, State and Federal agencies, and at State geological surveys.  A doctoral degree (Ph.D.) is necessary for college teaching and most high-level research positions. The best job opportunities go to candidates with degrees in natural science, physics, chemistry, astronomy, environmental science, physical geography and related fields (BLS).

Specific Career openings in this field

US Geological Survey (USGS): Physical Scientist – VA, CO, MO, CA (
•    Cornell University: Life Sciences/Physical Sciences - NY
•    Hi-Tech Systems, Inc.: Physical Scientist/Firefighter – NJ


Brumfiel, Geoff.  “NASA approves Hubble repair.”  News @  31 Oct. 2006.  
3 November 2006.

CNN  “Best Jobs in America”.  2006.  3 November, 2006.  

Gorder, Pam Frost.  “Chemists Make Tiny Molecular Rings With Big Potential”.  2 Jan. 2006.
 3 November 2006.
<>. 2000-2006.  3 November 2006.
<>. Path: Search; Astrononer; Job Description.

Science Daily News.  “New Cost-benefit Model Will Aid Efforts To Conserve Wilderness.”  Science  1 Nov. 2006.  3 November 2006.

U.S. Department of Labor.  Bureau of Labor Statistics.  “Environmental Scientists and Hydrologist”.  Nature of the Work.  4 Aug. 2006.  3 November 2006.
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Wikipedia.  “Physical Science”  24 Oct. 2006.  3 November 2006.