Job Family: Engineering and Scientific Research Physical Scientists
Services Offering this Occupation
Army  | Navy  | Air Force  | Marine Corps  | Coast Guard

Supplemental Information
Profile  | 
Photo 1: Scientist analyses carbon film on foil. Photo 2:
Physicist works in research lab.

Dave Pasqualini
Occupation: Meteorologist

I enlisted in the Air Force after completing one year of college. I needed to earn money to complete my education and saw the Air Forc…

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Short Description
The military conducts physical sciences research to develop new technologies, materials, and equipment for use in a variety of areas including, medicine, and engineering. They also study physical characteristics of the atmosphere and environment to support military operations. Physical scientists conduct and manage research in fields such as chemistry, physics, meteorology, and oceanography. Depending on area of specialization, physical scientists may be involved in building new weapons systems, developing weather forecasts, or evaluating the effects of biological and chemical agents.


What They Do
Physical scientists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Conduct research in their specialty area
  • Plan and conduct experiments in aerodynamics, optics, geophysics, biophysics, and astrophysics
  • Conduct research on the effects of water and atmosphere on military warning and weapons systems
  • Analyze strength, flexibility, weight, and properties of various types of materials
  • Analyze and evaluate scientific data
  • Teach/train other military personnel
  • Manage laboratories or field staff to conduct experiments

Helpful Attributes
Helpful attributes include:
  • Interest in collecting and analyzing data
  • Interest in scientific and technical work

Training Provided
In general, no initial job training is provided to officers in this occupation. In some cases, additional military training may be provided depending upon the specialty area.

Work Environment
Physical scientists in the military work in a variety of settings both indoors and outdoors depending on the area of specialization. Many physical scientists perform their work primarily in laboratories, or offices. Other physical scientists spend extensive hours outdoors collecting and analyzing data in the field. Although they observe strict safety precautions, some physical scientists may be exposed to hazardous substances.


Civilian Counterparts
Physical scientists are widely employed within the civilian workforce and enjoy a diverse set of opportunities within the federal government and the private sector. The federal government employs many physical scientists to conduct research on weather patterns, ground water supply, and a host of others issues directly impacting our way of life. Additionally, the private sector relies on physical scientists to develop new fuel sources (such as nuclear and solar energy) or medical applications. Depending on their specialty, civilian physical scientists may be called meteorologists, oceanographers, chemists, or physicists.

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