Physicists are scientists who study the fundamental properties of matter. This ranges from the microscopic world of subatomic and molecular particles, to the macroscopic world of cosmology and astrophysics. Systematic observation and experimentation provide the data from which theories describing the fundamental forces and laws of nature can be developed.

Physics is the science that deals with the structure of matter and the interactions between the fundamental constituents of the observable universe. Its object of study, therefore, ranges from quarks (tiny particles making up the nuclei of atoms) to quasars (apparently star-like objects, but brighter than billions of stars put together), found at the edge of the universe. Nothing is too small or too big for the physicist to investigate - the entire universe is their field of study. Physicists usually specialise in theoretical or experimental physics:

Experimental physicists: supply the fundamental data on which physics is founded. They spend a lot of time in the laboratory where new phenomena are examined through systematic and exact measurements, and experiments are performed to test existing theories.

Theoretical physicists: formulate the laws of nature that determine the properties and transformation of matter and energy. This is done in mathematical terms and electronic computers are often used for the calculations.

Areas of specialisation include:

  • Solid-state physics and material science

  • Nuclear, particle and radiation physics

  • Optics and spectroscopy

  • Environmental physics

  • Medical physics and biophysics

  • Solar-terrestrial physics, astronomy and astrophysics

  • Plasma physics

  • Engineering physics

With some employers, physicists can do original research while with others they apply their knowledge to the solution of specific problems.

Physicists usually work regular hours in offices and/or laboratories, but they may be required to work longer hours if they are intensely involved in their research. In general, the work is not hazardous. Some physicists may spend time working away from home to use national or international facilities that have unique equipment.


  • manufacturers of materials

  • manufacturers of equipment

  • hospitals

  • mining companies

  • research organisations

  • universities and universities of technology

  • government departments

  • such organisations as CSIR, NECSA, Mintek, Sasol, SAB

  • self-employment, with appropriate experience may act as a private consultant

Getting Started

  • read books and magazines on science and physics

  • join a science club and take courses that offer laboratory work

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a company that employs physicists

  • arrange to speak to physicists about this type of career and ask to observe them at work


Bindura University of Science Education, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Busitema University, Catholic University of Eastern African, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Chuka University, College of Intergrated Healthcare, Egerton University, Embu University College, Ernest Cook Ultrasound Research and Education Institute, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Tanzania), Kenyatta University, Kirinyaga University College, Kisii University, Kwame Nkrumah University, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kyambogo University, Laikipia University, Machakos University College, Makerere University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Meru University of Science and Technology, Mount Kenya University, Multimedia University of Kenya, Murang'a University of Technology, National University of Lesotho, National University of Science & Technology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, North-West University, Open University of Tanzania, Rongo University College, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Sol Plaatjies University, Solusi University, South Eastern Kenya University, The Copperbelt University, University for Development Studies, University of Botswana, University of Cape Coast, University of Cape Town, University of Eldoret, University of Ghana, University of Johannesburg, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Limpopo, University of Malawi (Chancellor College), University of Malawi (The Polytechnic), University of Nairobi, University of Namibia, University of Pretoria, University of Rwanda, University of Stellenbosch, University of Swaziland, University of the Free State, University of the Western Cape, University of the Witwatersrand, University of Zambia, Walter Sisulu University

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