Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What types of jobs can you get after a degree in Physics? My sister is choosing her course and thinking of doing physics but isn't sure what she can do after it.

share|improve this question
    
Even someone with a physics major can wash windows, mop floors, and take out the trash, so there is always something. For a better job, you have to be able to do something actually useful. –  Olin Lathrop Feb 19 at 20:48
add comment

closed as too broad by Brandon Enright, tpg2114, jinawee, Chris White, Kyle Kanos Feb 20 at 1:40

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

7 Answers

During my stint as a scientist working in industry I interviewed many job applicants. My experience is that it is extraordinarily hard to get good people, and that when I did meet good people it was obvious within the first few minutes of the interview that they were something special. With those people I didn't really care what they'd done at college (assuming it wasn't something silly like "swimwear design").

Still, not everyone can be an Ed Witten (including me - Ed the Horse is more my level :-) and I guess your first priority would be to get your CV through the first cut. I didn't do the initial CV filtering so I can't talk from personal experience. However Physics is a hard subject and if you get a good degree this immediately tells me you're a cut above the run of the mill applicants, and your CV would immediately go on the "to be interviewed" pile. The skills you need to be good at Physics apply to virtually any technical job, and even if you're applying for something completely different, e.g. law or finance, you'll still stand out as a clever person.

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, lol, but first you have to finish the studies... –  Pygmalion Apr 16 '12 at 12:17
    
@John Rennie When interviewing people, what made the special ones stand out? Exam results, innovations in the field, etc..? –  PPG Feb 19 at 20:56
    
@PPG: no, it wasn't achievements. It was their ability to think and express themselves clearly. –  John Rennie Feb 20 at 6:46
add comment

Researcher and lecturer at university are top jobs for those with degree in physics.

However, you can also teach at high schools, many work as programmers or making financial simulations for banks...

Physics is a universal knowledge, and you can apply it to many different disciplines (much easier than vice-versa). Of course in these cases you do not use your physical knowledge in full. But you most probably get better paycheck there ;-).

share|improve this answer
    
"top" jobs in what way? –  Martin Beckett Apr 16 '12 at 20:59
    
Definitely not in money earned ;) –  Pygmalion Apr 16 '12 at 21:00
    
Nor in number of physics graduates employed. –  user1504 Nov 19 '13 at 21:37
add comment

it is very hard for you to get a physics-related-job without good qualifications :( i myself i am unemployed although i have a degree on physics

i could suggest

  • high school teacher

  • Ph D researcher, although you will need very very good qualifications in general

  • work as a consultor management

  • Work as an 'Engineer material'

share|improve this answer
add comment

To some extent this will depend on the country - since your profile says you are based in Cardiff, I assume this means she is expecting to study and work in the UK?

Obviously there would be a huge range of possible career options. There are some careers for which a physics degree is likely to be a requirement or at least highly desirable (academic physicist, physics teacher, perhaps a medical physicist or working as a physicist in the nuclear or other industries). There are other careers which would be open to physics graduates as well as those from related subjects (finance for highly mathematical subjects, and academic publishing or patent law for science and engineering subjects, for example). There are many careers for which a degree in just about any subject is a prerequisite (many large businesses have graduate schemes).

Perhaps it would be a good idea for her to talk to a careers advisor at her school/college, or to attend some university open days and discuss it with them. I'm sure there is also lots of useful information on the web (the IOP's Careers page looks promising, for a start).

share|improve this answer
add comment

I agree with Jose that it is not easy to get a job with just a degree in physics. In this economy especially, just about everyone coming out of school is struggling to find work.

The path I chose, and it worked fairly well for me, was to go on to more school. In my case, I ended up in a nuclear engineering program and got my Master's degree from a good school. The job I currently have resulted from an internship position I held between the two years of grad school.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Assuming you mean a BS degree in Physics, she can get any job which only requires a BS degree. Since only the 4th year (of a typical 4 year study) is used to specialize (EE, CH, Phy, Math, etc.), these degrees are 75% the "same." Most hiring managers know this, that is why the specialty is not very important in the hiring process. What is most important is the fact that you obtained a degree. This shows that you are an individual capable of completing complex and difficult tasks/projects. Obviously, the higher the GPA, will result in more job offers. Also, to increase her "hire-ability," she can obtain additional degrees in one or more specialty (multiple disciplines).

If she continues and obtains a Masters or a PH degree, the potential for additional jobs is increased.

If she is interested in working in industry, she can work in manufacturing, or research. If she is interested in education, she can be a teacher. The opportunities are endless, and they are not related to the specialty chosen, but to the abilities of the person.

My advice for her would be to chose physics only if she wants to know what makes the Universe "tick" or is intrigued by the mysteries of the Universe and she would like to try to resolve at least one of them.

share|improve this answer
    
While it may still be true that the subject is not important for jobs in industry, many colleges specialize far earlier than senior year. And outside the US this is even more universally true. –  Chris White Feb 19 at 19:12
add comment

$E = mc^2$? "Job" = "Money"? In my country graduates in physics can work at the research institute for about USD 50/month salary equivalent. Head of the nuclear spectroscopy lab at the local institute of nuclear physics (a good friend of mine) is paid about USD 150/month. What I admire in these people is that they are doing physics just because they like it.

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by Qmechanic Nov 19 '13 at 22:53

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.