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Career Opportunities

Medical Physicists generally work in one of four fields:

  • radiation therapy physics
  • diagnostic imaging
  • nuclear medicine
  • health physics

 Each of these fields presents a myriad of opportunities in distinct areas. For example, radiation therapy physicists may be primarily occupied in the clinic with patient treatment which involves treatment planning, quality assurance, device calibration, and radiation safety. Or he/she may spend most of the time performing hospital administrative or regulatory tasks. Some medical physicists work in industry specializing in computational physics, developing Monte Carlo algorithms for beam transport predictions or improving treatment planning and imaging software.

Therapy physicists as well as imaging physicists can find themselves involved with device development.

Imaging physicists may free lance to perform quality assurance for diagnostic radiology equipment, develop new imaging protocols or develop new ways of combining imaging techniques to better understand structure and function in specific disease.
Many physicists work in industry as consultants, developers, installation technicians and sales associates.

Nuclear medicine is an art that uses radioisotopes to image and treat disease. Physicists in nuclear medicine find themselves primarily occupied in the clinic, working more directly with patients than other medical physicists. Some find themselves in laboratories involved in the production of isotopes and the development of new production methodologies.

Health physicists can find themselves employed in any field where ionizing radiation is created, used or absorbed. Some work in industry or academia primarily occupied with regulatory record keeping. Governments are major employers of health physicists both in the public sector and in defense. The nuclear power industry hires many health physicists for the purposes of radiation and public safety. Health physicists are also involved in device development, particularly low dose detection and radiation imaging.

Medical physicists in all fields frequently find positions in academic environments and research facilities.

In addition, medical physics is closely related to biophysics, bioengineering, biomolecular imaging, radiation biology, homeland security, nuclear engineering, and emergency preparedness. Professionals in these fields often hold degrees in medical physics.

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) web site is a useful resource for discovering medical physics opportunities. The salary information provided below is based on the 2010 salary survey conducted by the AAPM. It is provided here for information only and is not intended to indicate future income for graduates of this program.

 

Primary Income (in thousands of $US)

Total Income (in thousands of $US)

Number Average  Average

Avg Yrs Exper

20th
Percentile

Median

80th
Percentile

20th
Percentile

Median

80th
Percentile

Without certification

Private or Community Hospital

3

105.3

120.0

146.2

107.0

121.0

150.3

Industrial or Commercial Firm

10

100.0

126.0

175.0

100.0

126.0

175.0

Years Experience

0 - 2

90.0

107.4

120.0

90.0

108.0

120.0

Years Experience

3 - 4

102.0

116.0

130.0

102.4

116.0

131.6

With certification

Private or Community Hospital

16

158.0

180.0

202.0

160.8

188.7

218.0

Industrial or Commercial Firm

17

146.4

163.0

190.4

146.4

172.5

190.4

Years Experience

3 - 4

113.4

130.0

162.0

118.0

131.6

162.0