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BS Physics, no one wants to hire me?

  1. May 26, 2015 #1
    I graduated in 2012 from an accredited university with a BS in Physics. So far I have had one full time, permanent job in industrial engineering. Very few companies advertise for people with this degree it seems. I'm willing to relocate, but what kind of job titles should I be applying for? I'm really feeling lost here. Thanks in advance for your advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2015 #2
    What are you interested in?
  4. May 26, 2015 #3
    Actuarial and consultancy firms or patent attorney and law, I have found these probing for physics graduates.
  5. May 27, 2015 #4


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    Consider looking at R&D in manufacturing or chemical engineering fields. You might also consider Six Sigma QC or other types of programs that rely upon mathematical analysis.
  6. May 27, 2015 #5
    Congrats on getting a permanent position in industrial engineering with only a physics BS. I think that is your best opportunity for finding future work. Hopefully you have connections and refrences from that job you can use to get work.

    Otherwise, as I suspect you realize, there are no specific job titles suited for a physics BS holder. The only job a physics BS specifically trains you for is to be a physics graduate student. Beyond that its up to you to foster some kind of marketable skill and use that to get into a job.
  7. May 27, 2015 #6
    Perhaps stupidly, I quit that job, because I don't want to work in a factory. I do keep an eye out for similar work though. I really wanted to go to grad school this year but it's not going to happen.

    Aerospace is interesting. Any kind of lab work I could probably stomach. At this point I think my interest in the work is a low priority.
  8. May 30, 2015 #7


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    If you really want to stay in science you must do a PhD, and launch your career from there. If you just want a good job look into automotive. I know at least GM Ford Chrysler value physics grads, so long as they understand mechanics and can program. Look into calibration positions and brush up on your c/c++ and matlab/simulink. They need people right now too. Also they have positions all over the place.
  9. May 31, 2015 #8
    Yeah, I applied to jobs in parallel with grad school applications and realized no one is looking for a "physicist." However I did get an interview with Target for an engineering position. You might also try your luck with data science. Most hiring managers for these positions prefer PhDs, but they will sometimes take someone with a BS.
  10. Jun 1, 2015 #9
    There may be exceptions to this rule of thumb, but in general, never quit a job without having another situation lined up. A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. etc.

    You may want to sell yourself as an engineer who got a bachelor's degree in physics. Technically speaking, you can't call yourself a professional engineer or even an engineer-in-training. But if you have a BS in physics, then you are certainly competent to do almost any engineering job (unless that job requires a niche skill / knowledge set). Also, when you walk into interviews, you can express a willingness and eagerness to continue learning - both on the job and perhaps through part-time graduate studies.

    Always tailor your resume to the job you are applying for, and always emphasize the specific skills, experience, and knowledge that you have that would fulfill the particular job description.

    If you advertise on your resume that you are a physicist, a potential employer may think that you won't be happy unless you are doing research in physics, spending hours studying relativity or quantum mechanics, etc. Most employers have no use for any of that.

    Part of me wishes that I had majored in physics rather than electrical engineering, but that's just because I wish I could just sit around all day studying relativity and quantum mechanics and doing experimental and theoretical physics, etc. Actual "work" is often just a dull grind.
  11. Jun 1, 2015 #10
    People who major in physics have to do actual work, too. You might be surprised how grindy it can be.
  12. Jun 1, 2015 #11
    I get that. I'm just saying that as far as many employers are concerned, theoretical physics is a nice hobby that people might have - as is windsurfing or playing the violin, etc. Most employers don't need their employees to understand and articulate Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.
  13. Jun 1, 2015 #12


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    That is very discouraging about most employers; and from what I have gone through myself, that is how many of them are. This applies to more than just having a Physics degree. An employer looking for any S.T.E.M. person with any "research" course-work or experience may wonder if the candidate is too theoretical and not practical-minded. The employer representative might often ask about this in the interview.
  14. Jun 1, 2015 #13
    Regrettably, an absolute majority of the kinds of technical jobs you can probably talk your way into involve working in a factory. However, the details may differ in interesting ways, and different kinds of factories are different. There may be lab work in a factory available, but you need to expect that you will be helping someone make something, because that is what pays your salary. In my experience, engineering employers do regard an interest in research and theory as a potential liability for long-term retention, because many new graduates don't appreciate the difference between the academic world and the industrial world, even in research positions.

    My first job out of college with a BS in Physics was working as a process engineer for medical device manufacturing. This meant I was in the cleanroom every day, troubleshooting problems and providing support to the folks who make the devices. This wasn't something I tried to look for, I simply fell into it because it was the job I got. This is a very different manufacturing environment, with its interesting quirks. Low-volume, labor-intensive, and very much skill-based. A high-volume food processing plant or injection molding house would be very different than this.

    At the time, I applied for jobs like 'test engineer', 'manufacturing engineer', 'quality engineer', or 'process engineer'. Something that may also be available is 'reliability engineer' or 'systems engineer'. I shouldn't need to tell you that will be at a disadvantage for many or most of such positions due to a lack of an engineering degree, but work experience as an IE should help some. Fundamentally, you need someone to think you are going to help them make money doing whatever it is they are doing.
  15. Jun 2, 2015 #14

    No one pays you for what you know. They pay you for what you can do for them, in the expectation that it's worth more than they are giving you.
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