BSPhys actual jobs available?

  • Thread starter cdotter
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  • #26
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You have to tell them your skills and why you can do the jobs that engineers can. Nobody knows what a "physics degree" means.
Precisely. They DON'T KNOW what a physics degree means and apparently, they just assume I don't know anything about engineering based on my degree. It was my fault on that part. But now, I recently started listing selected physics courses in my resume. Hopefully that'll grab their attention that I have the basic qualifications for an EE.
 
  • #27
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Throughout my job search, I've seen a handful of internship openings from companies like Boeing, IBM, BAE, and a few select others that "desire" Engineering, Physics, or Math majors. It's common, but not that common.

If I were you, this is what I'd do:

Since you are interested in physics and concerned about your future job prospects, why not major in Electrical Engineering? There are many courses that are math-heavy and lots of courses in physics (applied physics too). You can always take the physics courses such as QM that interest you as a technical elective sometime in your junior or senior year. I know many engineering schools that require electives and choosing a higher level physics class is one of them. In addition, since you like math, an engineering degree requires a lot of math. You probably won't be taking things like Real Analysis and such, but again, you can do these classes as an elective.

Some of the EE classes that you may enjoy (mainly because of the high level of physics + math required to succeed in the course) include:

Electromagnetics (Need Calc III)
Semiconductor Devices (Similar to Solid State Devices)

I think this would be the best route for you. Also, if you enjoy physics, you don't need a degree in it - you can self study by yourself. It will be harder, but who says you need a B.S. degree to like physics? I know plenty of people who have studied the topics on their own. By your post, you seem to be worrying about your job prospect the most, and the route I advised above seems like the best fit.
 
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  • #28
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Throughout my job search, I've seen a handful of internship openings from companies like Boeing, IBM, BAE, and a few select others that "desire" Engineering, Physics, or Math majors. It's common, but not that common.

If I were you, this is what I'd do:

Since you are interested in physics and concerned about your future job prospects, why not major in Electrical Engineering? There are many courses that are math-heavy and lots of courses in physics (applied physics too). You can always take the physics courses such as QM that interest you as a technical elective sometime in your junior or senior year. I know many engineering schools that require electives and choosing a higher level physics class is one of them. In addition, since you like math, an engineering degree requires a lot of math. You probably won't be taking things like Real Analysis and such, but again, you can do these classes as an elective.

Some of the EE classes that you may enjoy (mainly because of the high level of physics + math required to succeed in the course) include:

Electromagnetics (Need Calc III)
Semiconductor Devices (Similar to Solid State Devices)

I think this would be the best route for you. Also, if you enjoy physics, you don't need a degree in it - you can self study by yourself. It will be harder, but who says you need a B.S. degree to like physics? I know plenty of people who have studied the topics on their own. By your post, you seem to be worrying about your job prospect the most, and the route I advised above seems like the best fit.
My school doesn't offer an EE, or any engineering program for that matter. Originally I wanted to do Electrical Engineering but the only public school that offers it is PSU Main, along with a bunch of (expensive) private schools.

The closest the university I'll be attending has is B.S. Physics + computer science electives + electromagnetism. I've looked at the EE courseloads at other universities and what I said above doesn't look too far off...but HR will see 'B.S. Physics' and throw my resume out.
 
  • #29
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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?

Thanks.
My roommate got a job right out of college working as a trader on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange as an options trader along with a kid who just graduated from college with a BS in physics. Needless to say they both ended up getting transferred to work on the NYSE and now probably make 6 figures, all of this only 2 years after college.
 
  • #30
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My roommate got a job right out of college working as a trader on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange as an options trader along with a kid who just graduated from college with a BS in physics. Needless to say they both ended up getting transferred to work on the NYSE and now probably make 6 figures, all of this only 2 years after college.
What do they look for in these candidates? Sounds interesting.
 
  • #31
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What do they look for in these candidates? Sounds interesting.
HIGH motivation. Analytical/critical thinker. Cockiness. Basically you have to be the guy that you can't push around on top of being good with numbers. My roommate actually tried to recruit me to get me to work where he works because I was a math major. Oh man do I regret not taking him up on the offer now.
 
  • #32
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Sorry for hijacking the thread, but are these offers usually extended to people through networking or are they readily available on the websites of companies? or of the stock exchange?
 
  • #33
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Sorry for hijacking the thread, but are these offers usually extended to people through networking or are they readily available on the websites of companies? or of the stock exchange?
I think he got it through either a head hunter or a job fair at my university.
 
  • #34
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You cannot get an engineering job with a physics degree unless you have taken engineering classes or have prior experience in engineering.
I concur with Laura-- this is simply untrue. I'm working in Engineering and have a four year physics degree. I had no prior experience and, to be honest, neither did anyone else. You learn on the job from the old timers, just like everyone else.

There are many paths into engineering, and getting a degree is just one. There are many people who start out as draftsmen. There are many more who become mechanical engineers after many years in the field in various capacities. There's no telling where life will take you.

I see all of these threads, and its like people are looking for a "Win" button. I'm smart, I got a Physics degree, now I should be successful. No degree is like that. No one can make you succeed but you. People say its about who you know, and to some extent, it is; but who you know comes from what you do, i.e., you know everyone because you've been there with all of them. It's all about experience, which is decidedly not what college gives you-- at least not as far as employers are concerned. And they're right.

Because you have no experience, you have to find another way. I could think of a hundred different paths into a well paying job, a well respected job, with a Physics degree. You have to tell them why-- how Physics has shown you that nothing is too difficult to overcome, nothing is too much for you. If there's one thing Physics teaches, it's how to figure things out-- and there's not a company out there who doesn't need people to do that. Bad GPA? So what! No one cares if you can demonstrate that you'll perform. Can't get past HR? Find a smaller company, and get in that way. You just have to be creative.

I'm actually in the reverse situation. I'm going to go back to school-- I want a PhD. And now I have to make that work, and its a tough situation-- I didn't graduate with a 4.0. But I'll tell you what-- I'm far stronger for the training I've received out "in the world", and know there are several paths back into what I want to do. And I'm going to make them work. I've taken my medicine, as mathwonk has said, and I'm better for it.

In any event, if you know what you're looking for, you'll find a way to do it. I work in FL, and I was recently forwarded a job ad from a company who works with NASA, an engineering position. The position is probably still open, I haven't applied yet, although I'm considering it. And here's the kicker-- they're looking for people with little or no experience, and a degree in either Math, Engineering, or Physics. It's a great opportunity, and I'm sure any of you who have posted could compete for this.

The jobs are out there.
 
  • #35
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Would I be an ideal candidate for an engineering job if I did Physics + CS Minor + select electives? Here are the lists of classes:

Physics Major:
CHM 1111 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY I
CHM 1112 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY II
MA 2231 - CALCULUS I
MA 2232 - CALCULUS II
MA 2233 - CALCULUS III
MA 3280 - LINEAR ALGEBRA AND MATRIX THEORY
MA 3311 - DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS I
MA 3312 - DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS II
PHY 1180 - QUANTITATIVE METHODS FOR THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES
PHY 2210 - GENERAL PHYSICS I
PHY 2211 - GENERAL PHYSICS II
PHY 3311 - MODERN PHYSICS I
PHY 3312 - MODERN PHYSICS II
PHY 3313 - PHYSICAL MECHANICS I
PHY 3315 - ANALOG ELECTRONICS
PHY 3316 - DIGITAL ELECTRONICS

Computer Science Minor:
CIS 1104 - COMPUTER SCIENCE I
CIS 2204 - COMPUTER SCIENCE II
CIS 3301 - DATA STRUCTURES
CIS 3330 - COMPUTER ORGANIZATION

Miscellaneous Electives:
PHY 3319 - INTRODUCTION TO SOLID STATE PHYSICS
PHY 4401 - ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM I
PHY 4402 - ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM II
PHY 4415 - PHYSICS RESEARCH I
PHY 4416 - PHYSICS RESEARCH II

Do you guys think I would be eligible for an entry level Electrical Engineering position with those classes? I've got the mathematics, the chemistry, the computer science, the electronics, and magnetism, and some research experience if I did all of this (which should be manageable).
 
  • #36
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Would I be an ideal candidate for an engineering job if I did Physics + CS Minor + select electives?
No.

Do you guys think I would be eligible for an entry level Electrical Engineering position with those classes?
Yes.

Seriously, if you want to be an electrical engineer, you should study electrical engineering. If you want to be an ideal candidate, you should study it and intern at a firm a few times during your college career, and receive an offer from them immediately out of school. There are many different kinds of electrical engineers as well-- there are those who design building electrical systems, those who design circuits for electronics, and everything in between. You don't have to know this in advance.

I saw you mention PSU main-- many of my friends went through their branch campus 2+2 programs to get into the main campus, and this was effective. Is this a possibility for you? Another option is to get a four year degree, and go somewhere for a masters in Engineering-- although I'm unsure that will help your salary, it should help your job prospects. There are online programs as well for this kind of thing, especially in Engineering. Check out Georgia Tech, for instance. But the above paragraph would be preferable.
 
  • #37
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I know some schools offer 3-2 programs, but I haven't see 2-2 programs anywhere.
 
  • #38
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I don't know for sure, didn't go through it. Maybe it's a 3+2 program. That would still be worthwhile IMHO.

Lots of people go for their undergrad degree for five years.
 
  • #39
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I think I'm just going to go with physics + computer science minor + some electronics electives. According to data at aip.org, a lot of physics undergrads work in either engineering or software. Of course I could just major in EE or CS, but I find the theoretical side more interesting. I know I find physics very interesting, but I'm not sure what I want to do with my physics degree, so I can always 'fall back' on a software job.
 
  • #40
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Before I decided to pursue physics, I was going to major in Civil Engineering. After seeing more positive feedback on physics majors doing engineering work, I still might shoot down the CivE route in industry. I would like to go to graduate school for physics as well.
 
  • #41
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This is a stupid question, but I haven't really found any true answers:

Say I go to graduate school and I do research. Do I get to choose what I want to research? And does the research have to be completely original? I don't understand how I can come up with a completely original idea. :confused: What would I be doing on a day to day basis? Spending all day in a laboratory, researching whatever? Does it have to be purely conceptual, or can it be something entirely concrete, such as researching eletromagnetics (building something that utilizes electromagnetics)?
 
  • #42
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From my limited experience, let me tell you the following:

You decide what you research, mostly. Schools have different research areas, and you get to decide (mostly) what school you will go to. Then when there, you apply to get to the group you want (i.e. the group doing work on gravity, condensed matter, whatever).

When that's done, you're already doing what you want to do, hopefully. But as to the details, the professor you're working for will guide you a long way with it.

Yes, it has to be completely original, that's the whole point. But you won't be expected to make some sort of breakthrough. I think I remember one of the Ph.D. thesiseseses I saw being on mapping some sort of properties of a molecule or something. Something that won't get you in the news, but is just as important to science.

I don't know what you mean by conceptual vs. concrete, though. I mean, some people do theory and work everything out on paper, others go to the lab and try to test it. To test it you'll need machines and stuff. One of the Postdoc's I talked to said that you spend most of your time building your apparatus when you are trying to do an experiment.
 

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