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BSPhys actual jobs available?

  1. Dec 18, 2007 #1
    I don't really know how to start this, so I'll get to the point:

    I'll be going to university in the fall because as it turns out being a minimum wage slave is horrible...anyways, my choice of major is a tossup between Physics and Computer Information Systems. I took Physics and AP Calculus my senior year in high school and I loved it. The material was interesting and I did very well in both classes, but I was an idiot and didn't bother taking the AP test because I didn't want to spend the $80. :cry: So I guess my point is that I like math and I'm not too bad at it.

    So, if my college career will be anything like my high school career, let's assume I'll graduate in four years with a BS in Physics with a 3.4 GPA. I don't have any research or job experience because my university doesn't offer internships for Physics students and the internships I've found on my own are thousands of miles away and don't pay.

    Now what? I'll be around $40,000 in debt from student loans. I would like to go on to graduate school for a Masters, but my debt dictates that I work for a bit to pay off my loans. What types of jobs are available? I've heard that finance jobs are available to Physics majors because they are good at maths and are great critical thinkers...but I'm not Mr. 4.0-GPA-Ivy-Leaguer, I'm an average student with a degree from a small liberal arts university with no related job experience...which leads me to believe I won't be qualified for these jobs. Not that I'd like to work in finance, however.

    So, is it possible to get an industry job with just a BS in Physics? I've heard that Physics students can do engineering jobs...and I've heard they can't. I suppose to depends on who is in HR and what exactly the job is, but generally, would a Physics major stand a chance at getting an Engineering job? If not, what other math and science jobs would be available to an average student with a BS in Physics?

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2007 #2
  4. Dec 19, 2007 #3
    Learn some computer skills on top of your physics and you could probably find something.
  5. Dec 19, 2007 #4
    If you want to find work with JUST a BS physics degree, you cannot, unless you specialize in something useful/required by the employer. Take some computer classes with your physics degree. If your school offers anything in engineering, take some of their classes. Make computer programs during your undergrad.

    Taking programming classes mean jacksh*t to employers unless you have some way in providing hard evidence that you can do it. My cousin works for M$ as a hiring contact and he doesn't give a sh&t if you are a CS major unless you can provide a sample of your code. So if you don't want to take programming classes, learn it yourself and make programs.

    You cannot get an engineering job with a physics degree unless you have taken engineering classes or have prior experience in engineering.
  6. Dec 19, 2007 #5
    Hi Cdotter. There was already a thread along similar lines, posted by Fizziks. My recommendation is this: double major in physics and engineering. It's not that hard, since many of the courses overlap. I had a friend in undergrad who doubled in physics and chemical engineering. He went to law school to be a patent lawyer. But if he hadn't gone that route, he'd have a decent job waiting for him.

    Here's my understanding as a first year grad student (if anyone knows better, please correct me). Even if you graduate with student loans to pay off, you can get those deferred as long as you go to grad school immediately after college. So contrary to your earlier assumption, you can go for a Master's degree. I assume you'd want to get a Master's in physics, and with this you'll be a much stronger candidate for many jobs. But let's say you graduate and decide you don't want to do two more years of school. Or, let's say you don't have the GPA/GRE scores to get into grad school. You'll still have your engineering degree, which would make you quite employable.

    So I think that doubling in physics and engineering is your best bet. The courses overlap, you can go to grad school if you still like physics at the end of it all, and you still have options if you want to start making money.
  7. Dec 19, 2007 #6
    What about a physics major with a mechanical engineering minor?
  8. Dec 19, 2007 #7

    That's really not true. It may be more difficult, but it happens all the time. None of the people I know with just a bachelor's in physics who currently work as engineers had any prior engineering experience. It's most definitely possible.
  9. Dec 19, 2007 #8


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    Are you sure they weren't hired because they had marketable skills outside of physics, ie. programming etc.?
  10. Dec 19, 2007 #9
    you can't get a minor in a technical major
  11. Dec 19, 2007 #10
    You don't know what you're talking about. UH offers a Mechanical Engineering minor.
  12. Dec 19, 2007 #11


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    You know I think it's better if you did it the other way round; engineering major with a physics minor.
  13. Dec 19, 2007 #12
    I'm majoring in physics, not engineering. I'm just looking for a minor that will give me better employment opportunities.
  14. Dec 19, 2007 #13
    Physics + Engineering minor sounds good for that. Or Chemistry, Biology, English, et cetera. Probably no one cares about your Math minor, everybody has those or nearly so.
  15. Dec 19, 2007 #14
    If I do an ME minor, some of the classes will kind of overlap with my physics major, so I might be doing some of the same topics twice. I guess that could be a bit advantageous, but I kind of want an "easier" minor, maybe business, to give me more employment opportunities.
  16. Dec 19, 2007 #15
    x2, my university offers 4 different tracks (robotics/mechatronics, materials, etc) for mechanical engineering minors.
  17. Dec 19, 2007 #16
    Yeah, same here. I really don't understand where you got your info from, fizziks. Sounds like a load of crap to me.
  18. Dec 19, 2007 #17
    Hey, guys, I perused a bit over the minors at UH. The minor in architecture seems interesting to me. I've always been a bit fascinated by skyscrapers, buildings, and so forth. Is there practical employment use for such a minor?

    Maybe a minor in the following?

    Last edited: Dec 19, 2007
  19. Dec 19, 2007 #18
    Minors are rarely of "practical employment use" beyond one factor - if you take a cohesive bundle of electives that form a minor, they give you an easy way to document it. If it looks fun, or if you'll cover enough material that will be useful towards your career plans, then by all means go for it.
  20. Dec 19, 2007 #19
    Well, I'm not exactly sure yet what I want to do with my physics degree. I'm majoring in it because physics thoroughly interests me. I suppose research would be interesting as would industry.
  21. Dec 20, 2007 #20
    Personal experience. Fellow recent graduates with physics degrees. Show me hard evidence of employers hiring physics graduates for entry level engineering positions with no engineering experience or specialization because I couldn't find one for the past 3-4 months. Checked craigslist, usajobs, monster.com, etc. Even tried networking with a couple of online friends.

    So I'm stuck looking for a job with the skills I already have that was not taught in school (C++, CSS, computer skills, etc.). I wouldn't say my 4-year degree was useless, it'll give me the edge on what I know now.
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