"Someone should only get involved in theoretical physics if they love math,
computers and science," says Robert J. Ragan. He is an assistant professor
in the physics department at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. "They
should also always want to know the reasons why things work, and they should
like explaining things."
Physicists are generally trained in the areas of experimental techniques,
mathematical analysis and computation.
"Someone with a degree in physics is considered a trained problem solver,"
says Allen Mincer. He is a professor of physics and the chairman of the physics
department at New York University.
"This is often much more important than specific knowledge. Since you know
how to learn and think creatively, you can pick up whatever you need to know
Physicists can work as space scientists, optical engineers, government
employees in research and development or high school science teachers.
With advanced degrees, physicists can become professors, research astronomers
or computer engineers. It's common for engineers and physicists to work with
Physicists often work regular hours in their labs and offices. Those involved
in research may work long or irregular hours.
Mincer says manual dexterity is useful. "I have also found myself doing
anything from climbing up flimsy scaffolding to scuba diving in order to repair
detectors," he says.
Those with physical challenges can be successful in physics. Many areas
of physics, such as theory, don't require physical fitness.
"Stephen Hawking comes to mind immediately as someone with severe physical
limitations who is internationally recognized for major contributions," says