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Physics Employment with a Physics BS?

  1. Feb 13, 2011 #1
    What kind of jobs could a Physics graduate be looking at which does not involve teaching apathetic little bastards in high school? (generalisation, I know but I was one of them for the most part of my high school life and I don't want to have to deal with a whole bunch of those on a daily basis)

    All I've heard is "jobs in finance" doing "programming" for "making models of stocks" and what not. And all of that is a little vague and it seems that those jobs are for PhDs and at this stage, I don't know if by the time I finish my BS, I will still be as interested in Physics as I am now. I mean, right now, I like it for its own sake and I like how challenging it can get and when I think of what kind of job I'd like, I think of something that is "intellectually stimulating enough so that it doesn't make me want to kill myself out of boredom" while making me earn enough to pay the bills and a little more. That's not asking a lot, is it?

    With that in mind, my plan was to do a Physics BS with as many programming and mathematics classes as I could get into. Either way, my question is, what kind of jobs could I be looking at with that background? And where? (as in, which countries; I don't mind moving elsewhere - hell, I like the idea of doing so)
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2011 #2


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    I know this doesn't directly answer your question, but in mathematics/statistics (my degree), most jobs need a minimum of honors (think masters) or proper masters degrees for most jobs. The others require PhD's.

    The only science type jobs that I know of off the top of my head that have decent employment prospects with a bachelors are the engineering streams. Most science majors require postgrad to get jobs related in that field.

    If you don't care about going into a "pure science/research" field, things I could suggest off the top of my head include technical sales, trainee patent agent/attorney (you might need engineering for this, but physics might be adequate).

    As for jobs that don't directly use all of the skills you attained during university, there's probably tonnes of them and the world is your oyster.
  4. Feb 13, 2011 #3
    I have a BS degree in physics and now I am a professional musician.
  5. Feb 13, 2011 #4


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    Not that being a professional musician requires a BS in Physics :)
  6. Feb 13, 2011 #5
    Really? I thought you needed to be at least a rock star to get anywhere into physics. Curse you Brian May! =p
  7. Feb 14, 2011 #6
    Yeah, that's exactly the reason I didn't even think of Physics for more than a minute or two when I recently re-started thinking about prospective careers again. But it seems that having a Physics BS, can afterall, lead to some kind of job; hence, I was looking for something more specific, something I can somehow try tailor my time at uni for when doing my Physics BS. I'd also just like to get an idea of how things could possibly work (out) and what I could be doing with that. I do like the sound of studying (relatively?) complex physics and maths for three/four years but the sound of ending up stuck in a crappy dead end job, not satisfied with my life, however, is not something I look forward to. Sure, I could go back to uni and get an engineering degree or something else but if too much time has passed and god forbid, I have done the deed and end up with a few kids and an ugly, cheating wife, then it won't be as easy.
  8. Feb 14, 2011 #7
    If you are interested in engineering jobs, there are lots of different sub-fields in which you could specialize. I'll give you an example from my own experience, because there are things I would have liked to have known after I started working as an engineer with a BS in Physics.

    My statistics was weak when I started, so I took two graduate courses in statistics. This has been tremendously helpful. I work as a process engineer, so things that are helpful to me are applied thermodynamics [how can I make this hot or cold?], materials science [what happens to this stuff when I heat, crush, or bend it in interesting ways], and basic chemistry [I am in charge of lab spaces so I need to know what people are doing in there].

    I only studied the basics of these things in school, and I could have used more background when I started. I have been doing this long enough that I picked it all up, but if you have the chance you might as well do it now.

    Don't be too harsh on engineering jobs. There are some crappy dead end ones, but you can definitely find interesting and challenging work.
  9. Feb 14, 2011 #8
    I have a BS in physics and now work in a restaurant.

    I would figuratively kill for a crappy dead end tech job.
  10. Feb 14, 2011 #9
    Keep looking for a program that fits your interests, you might find out that it's not a physics/math program. I was set on doing a physics bachelor's for a year until I realized I might not want to go to grad school. I'm older and want to get a degree, get a job, then after I have my foot in the door somewhere will I continue my education. I found my fit in an EE program, in a couple physics-y areas.

    I've heard some stories about physics bachelor's doing internships/co-ops and they seem to do much better. Regardless of what degree I pick I always think of my resume. Because when it comes job seeking time, I want a list of serious skills that will get me an interview.
  11. Feb 14, 2011 #10
    For the record, the dead end jobs I was referring to were everything but ranging from cookie engineering to shop salesperson. No offence intended, but I wouldn't like to be doing that kind of job after working my *** off for a Physics BS.

    Thank you every one for your opinions. ;)
  12. Feb 14, 2011 #11
    I am an intern with an Engineering company and I graduate with a BS in physics this December. I advise you to apply heavily for internships in the field you would like to pursue. Getting your foot in the door and getting some experience is most important in my opinion.
  13. Feb 14, 2011 #12


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    I am interested in anyones' opinions about finding volunteer work in science, whether physics, geological, palaeontological, archaeological, chemical, or environmental. The thought is, based on Fjolvar's internship, maybe there are other positions that might be possible for volunteers, yet still be technical enough to be of significant scientific experience.
  14. Feb 15, 2011 #13
    Have you tried talking with any of the faculty in your physics department? If you are persistent about wanting to do research I'm sure they can find you a position. Many of my fellow students have positions in research at my University. Also, is there an office or department that helps with internships at your school?
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