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Usage of the title, Physicist

  1. Jun 15, 2012 #1
    Is the title of Physicist restricted for use by Ph.D.'s only? Could one with a B.S. in Physics be referred to as a Physicist?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2012 #2


    Staff: Mentor

  4. Jun 15, 2012 #3
    Yeah, I should've prefaced that I wanted a US-centric perspective, as I don't think those titles are applicable here.
  5. Jun 15, 2012 #4
    In the US, as far as I know, their is no specific licensing/credentialing standards for physics like their are for engineering (like P.E.). It is just a job title based on what you do and not what degree you have. I have a Ph.D. in physics, but I am not a physicist because my job has nothing to do with physics.
  6. Jun 15, 2012 #5


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    There is no restriction on the title "physicist" that I'm aware of. Technically anyone can call themselves a physicist. Of course the usual constraints of "walking the walk" if you're "talking the talk" apply.
  7. Jun 23, 2012 #6
    The way it seems to go in math is that you are a mathematician if either or both of the below criteria apply:

    a) you have a PhD in math and are working in the field
    b) your job title is "mathematician"

    I think there are some people who work as mathematicians with only a bachelor's or perhaps a master's, particularly in industry or government sectors. I don't know if there are physicist positions that can be obtained similarly or not.
  8. Jun 23, 2012 #7
    Well on careerbuilder, there's actually physicist titles with MS as the requirement.

    So I guess, a MS in physics is enough to be called physicist.
  9. Jun 23, 2012 #8


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    No. Yes, absolutely.
  10. Jun 23, 2012 #9
    I generally use 'physicist' as the job title. Most of the physics phds I know aren't physicists, a few of the physicists I know have masters or bachelors.
  11. Jun 24, 2012 #10
    I'm a "physicist", though I have no degree at all. I have a BS in math. But I would always say "amateur physicist", never just physicist. It just depends on how you want to use the word. The default is just as a job title.
  12. Jun 25, 2012 #11
    I dont think most people with physics PhDs are physicists. :tongue:
  13. Jun 25, 2012 #12


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    Would you call a graduate student a physicist? Their livelihood comes, at least for those few years, from doing physics so it seems to meet the criterion.
  14. Jun 25, 2012 #13
    I guess I wouldn't call them physicists quite yet. Amateur or Aspiring maybe.
  15. Jun 25, 2012 #14
    I am a physicist with a Bs degree.
    I am better than most of those with PhD degrees.
    acedemic degree gives only a social status. being a physicist is a totally different thing.
  16. Jun 25, 2012 #15
    In what sense? Do you have the general knowledge of someone who has taken a full graduate courseload?
  17. Jun 26, 2012 #16
    well, here's the thing: physicist is defined by job title.

    For example, if he got a certificate in medical physics, his title is "Medical Physicist" and yep, he's a physicist, with a BS degree, while a PHD in theoretical astrophysics working insurance is, uh, not a physicist.
  18. Jun 26, 2012 #17
    Sure, that's one way, I was just curious about his view though.
  19. Jun 26, 2012 #18


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    I think you are missing Jorriss point. He was responding to ilhan8's statement that he as "better than most of those with PhD degrees" and that "academic degrees give only social status"- self-serving statements at best.

    Yes, the title "physicist" is a matter of whether or not you are working as a physicist, not degrees. A person with a Ph.D. in physics is NOT be a physicist if he is working as an insurance agent (Which does happen- my first job after getting a PhD in mathematics was pumping gas. It was only a few months before I got a job teaching math but it was embarrasing the first time one of my ex-professors stopped there to get gas!).
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