Careers in Metrology
There are many career opportunities for physicists interested in metrology at laboratories, mostly run by governments, that are dedicated to the science of measurement. Organizations with many jobs are the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Boulder, Colorado; the Institute of Reference Materials and Measurement (IRMM) in Geel, Belgium; the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Sèvres, France; the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in London, England; the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in Washington, DC. BIPM is the organization that maintains the International System of Units. France's leadership in metrology began with the French Revolution and its political goal of harmonizing units all over France for all of its people. Basing the meter on the distance from the equator to the North Pole and basing the kilogram on the mass of water had ideological and political undercurrents.
A career in industrial metrology would involve applying metrology to manufacturing and other processes and ensuring the suitability of measuring instrumentation. A career in legal metrology concerns the regulatory requirements of measurements and measuring instruments for the protection of health, public safety, the environment, and the protection of consumers.
A fundamental metrology job might involve establishing new units, measurement methods, standards, and traceability protocols. Traceability is a core concept in metrology because it relates measurements to national and international standards. The level of traceability determines whether the result of a measurement can be compared to other measurements. A job in metrology means understanding traceability, accuracy, precision, systematic bias, and the evaluation of measurement uncertainty. Correct measurements are essential to commerce, but most individuals specializing in metrology have jobs as technicians.
Professional physicists with advanced degrees and experience are needed to get jobs operating equipment in many laboratories. Such careers might be considered careers in metrology. There are metrology jobs requiring experience in operation of particle accelerators, such as cyclotrons, synchrotrons, and betatrons. There are also jobs in x-ray fluorescence imaging and microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy. Some job specifications require knowing about a range of high-resolution astronomical imaging techniques, such as adaptive optics, precision positioning systems, and magnetically induced circular dichroism.