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Physics Bachelor's in Physics: Retail can't be my only option!!?

  1. Aug 3, 2016 #1
    To bring you up to speed: I am bright enough to go to graduate school, and was previously accepted with full tuition and stipend to two Masters/Ph.D. programs. I had a 3.8 undergrad GPA, did well in an REU program, did other personal undergraduate research projects. At this time, I am landlocked, and the only local university only offers graduate degrees in Material Sciences (and I disliked both chemistry and solid state physics, so probably not the best option.)

    I realize now that getting a Bachelor's in physics was a mistake. I also understand that I will not get any jobs in physics, perhaps even in science.

    What am looking for is this: Are there any jobs which are open to hiring me? Any at all? As it stands, I have only gotten one offer of an interview (retail). No one else takes the time to even glance at my resume. Everything I have applied to seems to think that I am either overqualified or underqualified. What jobs walk the fine line here?

    Thanks in advance, guys.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2016 #2
    So you need to develop (or emphasize) skills that employers want.

    There are lots of employers who hire people with a BS in physics. They just aren't typically doing it because of anything the person picked up in their physics classes.

    Some examples include programming, data analysis and actuarial science. A BS in physics can get hired in any of those areas so long as they have programming skills, data analysis skills, or actuarial exams, respectively.

    So what do you have that an employer might want? If nothing, what are you going to do to get it?
  4. Aug 3, 2016 #3
    Do you want a technical job? Do you have programming experience? Are there programming jobs where you live?

    Have you thought about teaching?
  5. Aug 3, 2016 #4
    A degree in physics does demonstrate that you have logical approach to understanding how things work.
    That would be seen as a desirable trait for many possible employments, even if not a job actually doing physics
  6. Aug 3, 2016 #5


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  7. Aug 4, 2016 #6
    Um, what deadlocked you from the masters/PhD programs that you got accepted to if you don't mind my asking?

    Regardless, what skills did you gain during your undergrad research projects? Programming, data analysis, electronics, and such like?

    I've seen companies mention physics bachelors alongside engineers for things like systems engineering, programming, and sometimes the odd RF or Optical Engineering positions in aerospace and military contractors and labs. Hell I have friends whose technical background is 'only' a bachelors degree in physics and they do test engineering for the Navy, so all is not lost with 'only' a degree in physics but they had technical skills to supplement their mostly theoretical/math modeling skills they got in their degrees.

    You might have to be willing to move, but look into places like USA Jobs, Engineer Jobs and see where your skills match up with most of the job requirements. Good luck.
  8. Aug 4, 2016 #7


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    I'm confused here. You stated above that you were accepted with full tuition and stipend to two PhD programs, and yet you state above that you are landlocked. Where are you from? Are you American?
  9. Aug 4, 2016 #8
    Thanks, everyone, all of the responses are greatly appreciated.

    StatGuy 2000 and clope023, I chose to follow my fiance to where he is going to graduate school. He applied to both of the schools that I was accepted to, but was not accepted by either, and he was more excited about the prospect of grad school than I was, so I made the decision to decline.

    And unfortunately, my undergrad degree neglected programming in our curriculum or I doubt I'd be in this position (I have a bit of C).

    Locrian and clope023, I am have been looking at data analyst jobs, and all seem to require a background in business. I'll likely apply to a couple anyway because it can't hurt. :)

    asmls, I am not enthusiastic about teaching high school, and am thus a bit reluctant to spend the time and money on the certification. If I don't find something more satisfactory soon though, I plan to reconsider.

    Again, thanks for the responses. It's giving me things to think about, including spending some time picking up more programming skills.
  10. Aug 4, 2016 #9
    Take advantage of free resources like Codecademy (https://www.codecademy.com/), EdX (https://www.edx.org/) and Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/) to learn programming, they have plenty of free tutorials at multiple levels for C, C++, Python, Ruby, you name it. It's debatable whether the certificates they offer are worth it to purchase but they are plenty of great courses to take and projects to partake in and those can definitely be put on a resume to some good effect. Best of luck.
  11. Aug 5, 2016 #10
  12. Sep 5, 2016 #11
    I understand what your going through. The difference is that I wish I had your GPA and optimism about Physics (although I have some nostalgia for it). The data entry jobs I found were more programming than business focused, however I did come across some heavy finance oriented analyst positions which were competitive.

    I felt the same way you did about teaching. My philosophy is that if your going to teach K-12 you may as well get a certification or MA in education. I did get accepted into graduate school for MS in Engineering, but it was more of a 'safety school' and not research based one.

    You could easily find work being a lab technician to hold you over until you find a graduate school. Are there medical or defense facilities in your area.
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