There are no academic positions in theoretical physics offered to master graduates worldwide based on my personal experience.
First, when I was still a master student in physics, a professor in theoretical high-energy physics in my department told me the faculty is never given funds to employ master graduates to do research in theoretical physics, so all he can do to help his master students needing time to prepare for applying for foreign PhD programs is postponing their graduation so that they can hold the part-time assistant positions associated with his research project while making the preparation.
Despite hearing about that, I still didn’t quite believe the fact that there are absolutely not academic positions in theoretical physics offered to master graduates, so after graduation I made an exhaustive search for them in my country, but have never seen even a single such position. The positions of the kind closest to the theoretical physics I’ve seen are those having virtual contact with others’ experiments, which usually require computer programming to simulate or analyze experimental data though there is no need to actually operate experimental apparatuses; these for me are counted as experimental physics as well.
Then I finally accepted the fact that a master graduate in theoretical physics seems to be only able to submit to either landing on a position not closely related to his master studies or staying without position if they can’t pursue a PhD immediately. Either way is not ideal for those who are dedicated to studies of theoretical physics seriously in the hope of taking it as their professional career. To my frustration, I often wonder the purpose of conferring the intermediate degree master in theoretical physics between bachelor and PhD since there is no associated position offered at all.
However, recently I have new discoveries. First, when I checked the CV of an assistant professor in theoretical physics having PhD position opening, I surprisingly found he had a stay of one year in a research institute for theoretical physics in Turkey between his MSc and PhD studies. Second, I found there were open research-associate positions in theoretical physics regarding gravity and cosmology in a university in England, with the requirement of the applicants being those who have a PhD degree in theoretical physics or those who have an equivalent level of professional qualifications and experience (will be given a lower salary than the PhD holder). Third, I heard on web that university lectureship and non-tenured assistant professorship in theoretical physics and math in India only require master degree. Then I recall one of my collaborators (a master student senior than me) during my MSc studies coming from Malaysia was given a university lecturer position, which was, nonetheless, in math rather than theoretical physics, when she came back to her country before pursuing PhD. However, I know she majored in math in her bachelor studies—this probably contributes a factor to her being able to get a position in math though she majored in physics in MSc.
Thus I wonder how common academic positions in theoretical physics are offered to master graduates worldwide. Are such offers commoner than I consider or such positions I heard in Turkey and India as above are just few exceptions. If theoretical physics positions for master graduates are not so common worldwide, how can the aforementioned research associate positions in England expect to find applicants with an equivalent level of professional qualifications and experience as that of PhD? If there are not associated research positions offered to them, where do they get an equivalent level of professional qualifications and experience? Can they study and make publications at their own home and write these on CV as experience? I doubt. Only given positions can be counted as professional qualifications and experience, right?