Career prospects with a Physics Degree?

  • #1
Is having a degree in physics only limited to academia?
 

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  • #2
Orodruin
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If a physics degree restricted you to academic jobs hundreds (if not thousands) of people would exit university with zero job prospects.
 
  • #3
StatGuy2000
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Hi @KamenRiderTorbjorn . The simple answer is that no, having a degree in physics does not only limit you to academia. There are many examples of people even on this forum who have degrees in physics who work in various industries (e.g. financial, marketing, engineering, energy, etc.).

The more complicated answer is that a physics degree can serve as a starting point for careers in various areas, but to do so, it is important for you as a student to gain various additional skills (e.g. programming skills, knowledge of circuits and instrumentation, statistical analysis, etc.).

Some of these skills may not necessarily be always easy to acquire from courses in the standard curriculum of undergraduate physics degrees, so it is wise to take technical elective courses outside of physics to gain these where possible (e.g. taking computer science courses in undergraduate).

It is also important for you as a student to gain some work experience while pursuing your undergraduate degree, either through internship opportunities or in research opportunities available to you. I cannot think of how many times I've seen posts here on PF of students who have stated that they have never gained any work or research experience -- I honestly think that internships or research experience should be required as a condition of graduation in programs like math or physics.

Anyways, just my 2 cents worth in terms of advice.
 
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  • #4
Hi @KamenRiderTorbjorn . The simple answer is that no, having a degree in physics does not only limit you to academia. There are many examples of people even on this forum who have degrees in physics who work in various industries (e.g. financial, marketing, engineering, energy, etc.).

The more complicated answer is that a physics degree can serve as a starting point for careers in various areas, but to do so, it is important for you as a student to gain various additional skills (e.g. programming skills, knowledge of circuits and instrumentation, statistical analysis, etc.).

Some of these skills may not necessarily be always easy to acquire from courses in the standard curriculum of undergraduate physics degrees, so it is wise to take technical elective courses outside of physics to gain these where possible (e.g. taking computer science courses in undergraduate).

It is also important for you as a student to gain some work experience while pursuing your undergraduate degree, either through internship opportunities or in research opportunities available to you. I cannot think of how many times I've seen posts here on PF of students who have stated that they have never gained any work or research experience -- I honestly think that internships or research experience should be required as a condition of graduation in programs like math or physics.

Anyways, just my 2 cents worth in terms of advice.
Thank you for being more informative about it. I was wondering because most people say physics is more of a theoretical degree. Also the fact that I'm thinking about putting physics into consideration as a degree to pursue rather than EE or CE.
 
  • #5
ZapperZ
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Thank you for being more informative about it. I was wondering because most people say physics is more of a theoretical degree.
Ask those "people" who invented solid state transistors, lasers, NMR, and discovered superconductors, graphene, etc....etc. For those of us who majored in physics and did experimental work, we are the evidence to falsify such a claim so spectacularly.

Zz.
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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Ask those "people" who invented solid state transistors, lasers, NMR, and discovered superconductors, graphene, etc....etc. For those of us who majored in physics and did experimental work, we are the evidence to falsify such a claim so spectacularly.
Based on the origional post, I think that may have been a poor choice of words by the OP and/or people he has talked to. He probably meant to say it was a degree meant for use primarily in academia.

Still, it's worth pointing out that many experimentalists work outside of academia. I don't know where the other discoveries were made, but I know the transistor at least was invented in an industrial research lab (Bell Labs).

It would be intersting to know, if such a stat exists, what fraction of physicists are employed in and outside of academia, doing physics.
 
  • #7
George Jones
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It would be intersting to know, if such a stat exists, what fraction of physicists are employed in and outside of academia, doing physics.
The following (from the American Institute of Physics) isn't exactly this, but it is interesting and useful:

https://www.aip.org/statistics/whos-hiring-physics-phds
Mouse-over the category titles to see links to expanded break-downs of categories.
 

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