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Working as a Physicist [NOC 2111]

Job Description

Physicists use math and science to develop and test theories about the nature of matter, and apply the findings in practical ways.

As a physicist, you perform the following duties:

  • design and carry out 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
  • create and design industrial or medical equipment, instrumentation and procedures

Sources: WorkBC Career Profiles NOC 2111,  Career Cruising database. (Profile for Physicist)

Industry Overview

Physicists make up a small part of BC’s workforce.  In 2016 only 400 individuals were employed in this sector.

You will find the majority of jobs in the Lower Mainland/ Southwest region of the province. Employment opportunities may also be found in the Vancouver Island and Thompson-Okanagan regions.

As a physicist, you may work closely with and perform some of the duties of engineers. Also, movement between specializations within physics and other fields of science, such as meteorology and geophysics, is possible with experience.

Source: WorkBC Career Profiles

Job Outlook in BC

forecasted average employment growth rate, job openings, composition of job openings; for 2018 - 2028

Chart from Work BC (NOC 2111)

WorkBC provides job openings in BC regions from 2018-2028:

Region Employment
in 2018
Average Annual Employment Growth
Number of Job Openings
Vancouver Island 70 1.2% 30
Lower Mainland / Southwest 300 1.7% 120

You can learn more about working as a physicist in BC and Canada from:

 Types of Employers

Physicists are employed by:

  • electronic, electrical and aerospace manufacturing companies
  • telecommunications companies
  • power utilities
  • universities and government research laboratories
  • hospitals
  • a wide range of other manufacturing, research and consulting firms

Source: WorkBC Career Profiles


The median annual salary for physicists working full time in BC is $108,638.  Your salary depends on your level of education, experience, and the industry in which you work.

Hourly salaries - high, median, low

Source: WorkBC

Working Hours

Hours usually range from 8 to 10 hours a day, 40 to 60 hours a week. Overtime and weekend work is fairly common, especially when a project is nearing completion. Job-related travel usually takes up 1 to 3 weeks a year.
Source: Career Cruising

Skills, Education and Experience


  • Patient and persistent
  • Imaginative, curious, inventive
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Analytical
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Enjoyment working with mathematics and computers
  • Ability to work as part of a team

Source: Canadian Association of Physicists

Education and Experience

  • Physicists usually require a master’s or doctoral degree in a field of physics, engineering physics, or in a related discipline.
  • A PhD is typically required for physicists in research and development positions. Those with master’s degrees may find work in physics related research and development positions in private industry.

Sources: Career Cruising & WorkBC


Licensing Requirements for Physicists

The profession of physicist is not regulated in British Columbia and employment qualification requirements are set by individual employers.

However, professional members of the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) can apply for Professional Physicist certification.

Designation as a Professional Physicist allows you to use the letters “P.Phys.” to show that you possess the qualities and experience required to make judgement calls with respect to scientific matters in your particular field.  Applicants must:

  • be of good character and at least 18 years of age
  • be a CAP member (and maintain membership while licensed)
  • meet education standards established by the CAP
  • meet physics experience requirements established by the CAP (minimum of three years of recent physics-related work experience after graduation)
  • agree to uphold CAP’s Code of Ethics for holders of the Professional Physicist designation
  • pass (unless exempted) the Professional Practice Examination (PPE)

For information about becoming a member of the CAP or for qualifying for P. Phys certification, contact the Association at:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available in print at the Central Library or online at
    (see categories 1630-2019, “Science/Engineering Professionals”)
    NOTE: Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For physicists, look for these related job titles (from NOC):

  • Aerodynamicist
  • Biophysicist
  • Cosmologist
  • Medical Physicist
  • Research Scientist, Aerospace
  • Research Scientist, Electronics
  • Research Scientist, Remote Sensing

Source : NOC 2011

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of companies who employ physicists in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, see the following:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for physicists in BC and Canada provide assistance to individuals. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Industry journals provide information about trends in the industry. Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples at the Central Library: