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Physicist Salary (United States)

Men represent the vast majority of Physicists in the United States. People in this role can earn an average of $87K annually nationwide. Cash earnings for Physicists — which occasionally include more than $14K from bonuses and more than $10K from profit sharing — stretch from around $50K to approximately $137K. Residence is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by years of experience. Medical benefits are awarded to most, and a majority earn dental coverage. For the most part, Physicists enjoy their work and report high levels of job satisfaction. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.
Physicist Salary (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$49,598 - $134,505
(Median)
50K
67K
87K
110K
130K
MEDIAN: $87,015
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%
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Physicist Salary (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$15.21 - $43.40
(Median)
15
30
43
MEDIAN: $32.00
10%
25%
90%
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National Salary Data

 (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Salary
$49,598 - $134,505  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $13,702  
Profit Sharing
$0.32 - $10,067  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$49,615 - $136,693  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 394
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$25$50$75
Hourly Rate
$15.21 - $43.40  
   
Overtime
$42.66 - $55.64  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Bonus
$0.00 - $13,702  
   
Profit Sharing
$0.32 - $10,067  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$49,615 - $136,693  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 21
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Job Description for Physicist

A physicist is someone who practices physics, the science of matter and energy. Physicists study the natural world from small particles to large galaxies. They conduct experiments to uncover the laws of nature, as well as study the behavior and composition of matter. They also design, conduct, and evaluate the results of experiments, methodologies, and quality-control tests. They are then responsible for communicating their results in writing and through presentations to researchers, students, funders, the public, and others. Physicists also maintain and use equipment and lab spaces, as well as provide technical support and calculations to non-physicists, students, and others. Some physicists create materials, new electronic devices, and even medical equipment.
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Physicist Tasks
  • Maintain and use equipment and lab space.
  • Communicate results in writing and in presentations to researchers, students, funders, the public, and other audiences.
  • Design, conduct and evaluate the results of experiments, methodologies, and quality control tests.
  • Provide technical support and calculations to non-scientists, students, and other groups.

Physicist Job Listings

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Physicists who responded to the survey report just a handful of professional skills. Most notably, skills in Research Analysis, Material Science, Nuclear Energy / Nuclear Power, and Systems Engineering are correlated to pay that is above average. Those listing Object Oriented Programming as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Competency in Material Science frequently indicates knowledge of Research Analysis.

Pay by Experience Level for Physicist

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Physicists with a lot of experience tend to enjoy higher earnings. Workers with less than five years' experience earn around $72K on average, and those who have five to 10 years under their belts see a higher median salary of $87K. Six-figure salaries surface after one to two decades on the job — experienced professionals in this group reap a six-figure median of $106K. Veterans who have surpassed the 20-year mark may make only slightly more than those who are navigating the mid-career stage; the more senior group reports median earnings of around $122K.

Pay Difference By Location

Chicago
up arrow 23%
Albuquerque
up arrow 12%
Los Angeles
up arrow 10%
Boston
up arrow 7%
Washington
up arrow 6%
National Average
$87,000
San Francisco
up arrow 2%
Houston
up arrow 24%
New York
up arrow 36%
Larger circles over a city indicate a job is popular in that location.
Home to some of the best pay for Physicists, Chicago offers exceptional salaries, 23 percent above the national average. Physicists can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Albuquerque (+12 percent), Los Angeles (+10 percent), Boston (+7 percent), and Washington (+6 percent). Physicists in New York earn salaries far below the national average by 36 percent, proving that geography overwhelmingly affects the pay scale for those in this field. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Houston (24 percent lower) and San Francisco (2 percent lower).

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Experience Affects Physicist Salaries

Late-Career
up arrow 41%
Mid-Career
0%
National Average
$87,000
Entry-Level
up arrow 17%

Skills That Affect Physicist Salaries

National Average
$87,000
Nuclear Energy / Nuclear Power
up arrow 2%
Systems Engineering
up arrow 3%
Object Oriented Programming (OOP)
up arrow 25%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied Image
Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5 based on 69 votes.

Gender

Female
9%
female alumni
 
Male
91%
male alumni

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
9%
1-4 years
30%
5-9 years
23%
10-19 years
21%
20 years or more
17%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 88% dental benefits Dental: 69%
vision benefits Vision: 55% employee benefits None: 9%