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Feb17-12, 03:16 AM
P: 52
Quote Quote by pi-r8 View Post
This idea that there's a huge wide range of technical careers available and that a physics major is qualified for any of them is incredibly misleading, and I can't believe it's still being taught. The fact is that there's basically 3 main career choices for physics majors. In order:

1) graduate student (not really a "career" but you'll get a stipend and health insurance at least)
2) computer programmer (only if you've learned programming)
3) high school math/science teacher (only with a further education degree)
Since I like data (something I picked up during my graduate school years that were, according to certain embittered individuals on this site, otherwise wasted), I checked my undergrad alma mater's alumni directory for the years around my own graduation. I looked for people who majored only in physics (no CS or engineering double majors), who had reported on their employment, and who didn't have any other degrees reported (generally people who update their profile with jobs will also update their further education). I also did a quick Google search to try to make sure (generally via LinkedIn profiles) that they had no other degree; plus I knew most of these people and whether they went to grad school (immediately out of undergrad, at least).

I found 15 people, whose most recently reported jobs break down as:

Six programmers
Four engineers of other stripes
Two defense analysts
One consultant
One technician/facilities manager at a national lab
One active duty military

And, by the way, teaching high school generally requires an additional credential, but not another degree, and for high-demand subjects some states and private schools will let one pick up that creditional after being conditionally hired.