Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Getting a B.S. in Physics was a big mistake aparently.

  1. Jan 18, 2008 #1
    I have a B.S. in physics from a reputable school with a good GPA, numerous publications in highly reputable journals and I am still not able to get a job anywhere. Hell, I can't even get an interview because very very few jobs want someone with a degree in physics. They want an engineering discipline or computer science discipline. Both of which I'm very well versed in from my research experience and highly capable.

    Yet, I've been told at least 20 times this year that a Physics degree is not what they are looking for.

    I was planning on getting my M.S. right away, but I really need a job to pay for piling up bills and am thus only able to go part-time.

    My advice, or rather statement, is do not try to get a job with just a B.S. in physics.

    My problem was believing my advisors and online sources that engineering/comp sci disciplines would be intersted in a physics degree.

    /Edit: I am so depressed lol
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2008 #2
    I've always gotten the exact opposite response from people. I've always been told that once I get my B.S. in physics, I will NOT be able to get a job. When I graduate, I wont really be expecting to find a job in the field because of this. I plan on going directly to graduate school after getting my B.S.
  4. Jan 18, 2008 #3
    Google "Physics Jobs" and all that comes up his websites talking about how so many places love people with just a B.S. in physics (i.e engineering, comp sci, financial sector, etc...

    I can't decide wheter or not to keep looking for a job, getting my M.S., or getting a B.S. in EE
  5. Jan 18, 2008 #4
    It doesn't work for everyone. Some are lucky to land a job with a BS /BA in physics, some aren't. I ended up working a part-time entry-level IT job while I work on a computer engineering Masters degree.

    The thing is, the IT job is entry level and a 4 year degree wasn't necessary required.. I think I got the job because of me being over-qualified with a highly technical degree. (At least that what the interviewer seem to implied)
  6. Jan 18, 2008 #5
    Someone will come along soon to point out all the jobs you can get with a physics BS. Unfortunately, most of them will not be jobs where you work as a physicist or anything of the sort; they'll just relate broadly to the field. Still, they may give you some ideas on where to try.

    Beware that a masters may not solve your problem. It does widen your possibilities greatly, but most masters jobs still require experience. Be prepared to intern and get some on the job training. Be prepared to move.

    Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. The physics BS could be made much more hire able without too much effort. As I've posted here before though, when last it was suggested at this Uni that the physics BS be made more employalbe the reaction from the faculty was swift, angry and overwhelming. I really think highly of some of the professors involved, but for that period of time all I could see them as were a bunch of pampered, tenured fools sneering at the idea of helping their students get real jobs.
  7. Jan 18, 2008 #6
    i've actually had a few IT interviews but am told I am either over qualified or under qualified. While in school I did 3 years or programming and helpdesk work.
  8. Jan 18, 2008 #7
    Maybe your resume is crap? I've been told that people don't even know what a physicist knows, so that's why they don't care for them. Have you stated upfront what you know, or what?
  9. Jan 18, 2008 #8
    I was thinking that so I had took my resume to my advisors, faculty at my school, and the career department at my school.

    They all said I had an excellent resume...

    I have 2 different resumes I send out depending on situation. One is highly focused and one is broad.
  10. Jan 18, 2008 #9

    Where do you live? Maybe your area is just like that?

    Honestly this is a bit disenheartening... I mean, I was going to go for at least a MS anyway, but still...
  11. Jan 18, 2008 #10
    I live in SE US and there isnt much around. But Ive talked to so many places around the country.
  12. Jan 18, 2008 #11
    It's good to not limit yourself to just one area. I'm still searching for all types of positions around the U.S. I really hate the SE. The only way I'm staying in the SE is if someone offers me a 100k/yr secured job.

    The heat down here is just unbearable. Today was close to the low 90s because of the high humidity.
  13. Jan 18, 2008 #12
    This thread comes up here all the time. People seem to think that a degree somehow entitles you to start at a decent job right away. Nothing is futher from the truth. It's not about WHAT you know, it's about WHO you know.

    An example is my brother. He only has a high school diploma, but he's been playing with computers since he could talk. He started working at small IT companies part time when he was fifteen, and now he's an IT systems analyst who supervises people with college degrees.

    It all comes down to how you sell yourself.
  14. Jan 18, 2008 #13
    How about field service engineer or maybe even sales engineer jobs? I have always thought that if I do not go to graduate school, I would possibly pursue this type of career. It seems that either would involve a lot of travel as well, which I think might be interesting. Many of the job postings I have seen for this job include physics or at least 'technical degree' in the description of requirements. Does anyone here know someone that does this kind of work?
  15. Jan 18, 2008 #14
    I love the SE US! I'm never moving back up north. I wish it was low 90s where I am now. Want to trade places (I'm in the northern part of the SE)? :wink:

    The SE has a good number of technical cities where there are TONS of opportunities for physicists. I live in one such city where physicists are highly in demand and are very well paid (city average is well above national average).

    I think unit_circle's point is very valid.
  16. Jan 18, 2008 #15
    I dont feel entitled to start a decent job right away. I feel entitled to start a job that doesnt include flipping hamburgers....
  17. Jan 18, 2008 #16
    Have you had internships at companies before? I know defense contractors like BAE and Lockheed hire physics students. If you don't have any industry experience, what good is that? Have you done an REU?
  18. Jan 18, 2008 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    teaching? some of us would love it if you were teaching at our kids schools. private schools can offer contact with bright kids, chance to innovate curricula, ...
  19. Jan 18, 2008 #18
    This is not a bad option but, in my state at least, you have to have a certification which takes at least a year or two of courses plus student teaching. He would have to go back to school for that.
  20. Jan 18, 2008 #19


    User Avatar

    "numerous publications in highly reputable journals"??? what journals are these? if they are highly reputable, how'd you get published so many times in them? getting published in "reputable journals" is no mean feat, even for academics, let alone for the glut of people with 4 year degrees.

    i'm not trying to pick on you, ljackson. i'm just trying to understand a sorta paradox where profs seeking tenure are climbing over each other to get published in the esteemed journal of their discipline (and having to wait many months to a couple years to actually get into print) and some whiz kid undergrad is somehow scooting in front of them and get published numerous times.

    if you actually are getting published in respected academic journals multiple times because of the quality of the work you have done while an undergrad and recent grad, then you should consider grad school and an academic career.
  21. Jan 18, 2008 #20
    Does anyone know if high schools hire foreigners with foreign teaching credentials as permanent staff? i.e. sponsor them for "Green Card"s?

    I would think that if there really was a shortage of physics teachers then they'd have no problem doing that.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook