Becoming a Physicist - How to Become a Physicist
First, if you haven’t already done so, make a thorough examination of yourself as to whether you really do want to go into physics and become a physicist. Do you know what becoming a physicist entails? Spend a few days, or longer, doing this self examination. Just make sure that becoming a physicist is really what you want to do. The following may sound cliché to you, but it is very true: so many people just rush into a job because they do not know of what else is out there. So do take a little time out of your busy schedule to reflect if this is what you would like to do for the rest of your life. There is nothing wrong about being a physicist. You may really like it. Just make sure that your temperament and personality fit this type of job and that you know what a typical day of being a physicist is like.
Try to do well in school and get good marks. Try to make use of the time you have in high school to enjoy classes, and try to find something interesting about the subjects that you learn. It's really probably your last opportunity to be exposed to such a wide spectrum of knowledge. Take advantage of it while you can. Don't rush through school. Sure, it may be boring and dry sometimes, but just try to make it as interesting for yourself as you can. You may even learn something useful down the road someday!
You will likely need a graduate degree in physics and perhaps also a license, depending on where you live. Likely, there will only be a certain number of schools that offer programs where you can study to become a physicist. Try to find all the schools that you think you might have an interest in and thoroughly read through their curriculum, admission policies, and the success rates of their graduates obtaining good positions. Prepare as early as possible for admission. You do not want to miss deadlines, or not do something that could easily have been done.
Obtain some job experience or do some job shadowing with physicists. This will allow you to find out what being a physicist is like. Maybe you really hate it. Maybe you love it. It's a great opportunity to broaden your horizons even if you decide not to become a physicist in the future. Getting job or volunteer experience will also look very favorable to future employers, as they will know that you were capable enough that someone trusted you with their work. It will also allow you to get reference letters if you need any. Last, but not least, you will gain practical experience and contacts as a physicist that may help you in your future job.
Keep an eye on various places where there may be job postings right from day one that you decide you want to become a physicist. Even if you are not yet qualified for the job, job postings give you a very good idea about what type of skills employers are looking for. You may want to hone those skills or learn them during the next several years. Of course, with technology changing so rapidly, those same skills could become obsolete, so try to pick skills that you think will be around for a while and will be useful in the future in a broad range of situations.
Decide if you want to specialize in the future. If you do, then you should try to go to a post-secondary institution that specializes in your particular specialty. It will make you a more attractive and competitive candidate when it comes time to look for a job. Be careful about specializing too early, though, or even specializing at all, as that specialty may become obsolete or not in as much demand when you are ready to go into the workforce. However, specializing definitely has its advantages, as you will be the recognized expert in your specialty. You may even be paid more, which is why many people specialize. So do consider it to be a viable option.
Choose your employer carefully. If you do not think that you would fit in a particular company, you probably should not even apply there. Of course, you should try not to be picky, but do try to make an effort to think a little about what type of company and work environment you desire. You don't want to be finding another job in two months.
Once you have a job as a physicist, try to distinguish yourself a little every day. The objective is not to get a promotion or a pay raise, although that would be a nice bonus, but just as a duty to yourself. A pledge to yourself to try to make your job a little bit better for other people. The extra effort will make yourself feel pleased, as well as really do a service to others. Also consider upgrading your skills once in a while by taking courses or learning by yourself. Try not to over-exert yourself, though, when working or when spending extra time to learn skills. But do put in a good day's work. Work in a relaxed manner. Work at a comfortable pace, but just do not slack at your duty. After all, it's your profession!
Wish you every success with your job as a physicist!