Physics Teachers, Postsecondary
Teach courses pertaining to the laws of matter and energy. Includes both teachers primarily engaged in teaching and those who do a combination of teaching and research.
Sample of reported job titles: Adjunct Professor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Instructor, Physical Science Professor, Physics Instructor, Physics Lecturer, Physics Professor, Professor, Science Instructor
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Evaluate and grade students’ class work, laboratory work, assignments, and papers.
- Prepare course materials, such as syllabi, homework assignments, and handouts.
- Compile, administer, and grade examinations, or assign this work to others.
- Prepare and deliver lectures to undergraduate or graduate students on topics such as quantum mechanics, particle physics, and optics.
- Maintain regularly scheduled office hours to advise and assist students.
- Supervise undergraduate or graduate teaching, internship, and research work.
- Initiate, facilitate, and moderate classroom discussions.
- Maintain student attendance records, grades, and other required records.
- Plan, evaluate, and revise curricula, course content, course materials, and methods of instruction.
- Supervise students’ laboratory work.
- Keep abreast of developments in the field by reading current literature, talking with colleagues, and participating in professional conferences.
- Collaborate with colleagues to address teaching and research issues.
- Advise students on academic and vocational curricula and on career issues.
- Conduct research in a particular field of knowledge and publish findings in professional journals, books, or electronic media.
- Select and obtain materials and supplies, such as textbooks and laboratory equipment.
- Maintain and repair laboratory equipment.
- Perform administrative duties, such as serving as department head.
- Participate in student recruitment, registration, and placement activities.
- Serve on academic or administrative committees that deal with institutional policies, departmental matters, and academic issues.
- Write grant proposals to procure external research funding.
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- Analytical or scientific software — Maplesoft Maple; The MathWorks MATLAB ; VASP Data Viewer; Wolfram Research Mathematica (see all 11 examples)
- Calendar and scheduling software
- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD ; Mathsoft Mathcad
- Computer based training software — Blackboard Learn; Desire2Learn; Learning management system LMS; Sakai CLE (see all 5 examples)
- Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software
- Desktop communications software — Edmodo
- Development environment software — C; Formula translation/translator FORTRAN; National Instruments LabVIEW ; PLplot (see all 9 examples)
- Electronic mail software — Email software; Microsoft Outlook
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Visual Molecular Dynamics VMD
- Information retrieval or search software — DOC Cop; iParadigms Turnitin
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Object or component oriented development software — C++ ; Perl
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Optical character reader OCR or scanning software — Image scanning software
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Collaborative editing software; Google Docs ; LaTeX; Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
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- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
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- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
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- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Evaluate student work.
- Develop instructional materials.
- Administer tests to assess educational needs or progress.
- Prepare tests.
- Teach physical science or mathematics courses at the college level.
- Advise students on academic or career matters.
- Supervise student research or internship work.
- Develop instructional objectives.
- Evaluate effectiveness of educational programs.
- Guide class discussions.
- Maintain student records.
- Supervise laboratory work.
- Attend training sessions or professional meetings to develop or maintain professional knowledge.
- Stay informed about current developments in field of specialization.
- Research topics in area of expertise.
- Write articles, books or other original materials in area of expertise.
- Write grant proposals.
- Order instructional or library materials or equipment.
- Select educational materials or equipment.
- Direct department activities.
- Perform student enrollment or registration activities.
- Promote educational institutions or programs.
- Serve on institutional or departmental committees.
- Compile specialized bibliographies or lists of materials.
- Plan community programs or activities for the general public.
- Advise educators on curricula, instructional methods, or policies.
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- Electronic Mail — 91% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 84% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 79% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 71% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 81% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 58% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Public Speaking — 56% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 63% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Deal With External Customers — 40% responded “Extremely important.”
- Time Pressure — 45% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 37% responded “Very important.”
- Telephone — 47% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 29% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 50% responded “Important results.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 30% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 51% responded “More than half the time.”
- Level of Competition — 43% responded “Moderately competitive.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 41% responded “Very important.”
- Letters and Memos — 37% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
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|Title||Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master’s degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).|
|Related Experience||Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.|
|Job Training||Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, neurologists, and veterinarians.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
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Interest code: SI Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
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- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
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- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$90,400 annual|
|Employment (2020)||16,500 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||1,700|
|Top industries (2020)||
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- American Association of Physics Teachers
- American Association of University Professors
- American Astronomical Society
- American Geophysical Union
- American Institute of Physics
- American Meteorological Society
- American Physical Society
- Astronomical Society of the Pacific
- Council of Graduate Schools
- International Astronomical Union
- National Science Teachers Association
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Postsecondary teachers
- Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society
- Society of Physics Students
- The Optical Society
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