How hard is it for physics majors to graduate with a job offer?

  • Physics
  • Thread starter QB18ND23
  • Start date
  • #1
16
1
I’m a physics major currently in the second semester of my first year at a US university. I have recently become very anxious about my future with a physics degree. Don’t get me wrong, I love physics.

One semester in, I’m doing very well academically. However, I’ve heard a lot of negativity directed towards physics majors’ job opportunities after graduation. Ideally, I would go to graduate school after getting my bachelor’s (it has yet to be decided what I will study in graduate school, whether I will go for a Master’s or a PhD, etc.).

But suppose, for whatever reason, that doesn’t work out. How common is it for physics majors who don’t immediately go on to graduate school to have a job lined up? This is important to me because I don’t have any family in the US to support me in case I need to wait a few months before an offer.

If I graduate without a job and without a graduate school acceptance, I will literally be homeless. I am not willing to switch to something more “marketable,” because I would feel ashamed and wouldn’t be able to study properly.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Education Advisor
Gold Member
6,083
1,143
I’m a physics major currently in the second semester of my first year at a US university. I have recently become very anxious about my future with a physics degree. Don’t get me wrong, I love physics. One semester in, I’m doing very well academically. However, I’ve heard a lot of negativity directed towards physics majors’ job opportunities after graduation. Ideally, I would go to graduate school after getting my bachelor’s (it has yet to be decided what I will study in graduate school, whether I will go for a Master’s or a PhD, etc.). But suppose, for whatever reason, that doesn’t work out. How common is it for physics majors who don’t immediately go on to graduate school to have a job lined up? This is important to me because I don’t have any family in the US to support me in case I need to wait a few months before an offer. If I graduate without a job and without a graduate school acceptance, I will literally be homeless. I am not willing to switch to something more “marketable,” because I would feel ashamed and wouldn’t be able to study properly.
You need to rethink your goals and priorities. You either want to be assured of finding employment or are less concerned with the odds of finding employment. See the italicized part of the quote? If you are worried, then choose to study for a degree in Engineering.

Also some other posts in other "topics" could be of interest: posts #8 & 9 in https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...physics-bs-more-appealing-in-industry.982910/

(I am editing because the "italicized" stuff I mention does not display as italicized. That part is "If I graduate without a job and without a graduate school acceptance, I will literally be homeless. I am not willing to switch to something more “marketable,” because I would feel ashamed and wouldn’t be able to study properly.".)
 
  • #3
30,324
6,801
I am not willing to switch to something more “marketable,” because I would feel ashamed
That is just silly. What kind of self-defeating arrogance both worries about having a job but is ashamed to earn one.

Why would you feel shame about learning a marketable skill? And if you would feel shame about learning a marketable skill then why would you even worry about having a job?

You really need to get your head on straight. I have seen a lot of nonsense here but wanting a job while feeling ashamed for earning one is definitely in the top
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes russ_watters, berkeman and Vanadium 50
  • #4
16
1
You need to rethink your goals and priorities. You either want to be assured of finding employment or are less concerned with the odds of finding employment. See the italicized part of the quote? If you are worried, then choose to study for a degree in Engineering.

Also some other posts in other "topics" could be of interest: posts #8 & 9 in https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...physics-bs-more-appealing-in-industry.982910/

(I am editing because the "italicized" stuff I mention does not display as italicized. That part is "If I graduate without a job and without a graduate school acceptance, I will literally be homeless. I am not willing to switch to something more “marketable,” because I would feel ashamed and wouldn’t be able to study properly.".)
That’s the issue. I can’t just major in engineering because I would feel like I’m selling out. Whether or not that is true is irrelevant. The mere thought of changing my course of study to improve my odds of employment is enough to make me lose sleep. I have been told that it may have something to do with me potentially having Asperger’s. Some people with Asperger’s develop very rigid, non-negotiable moral systems that they simply cannot deviate from without going into crisis.
 
  • #5
16
1
That is just silly. What kind of self-defeating arrogance both worries about having a job but is ashamed to earn one.

Why would you feel shame about learning a marketable skill? And if you would feel shame about learning a marketable skill then why would you even worry about having a job?

You really need to get your head on straight. I have seen a lot of nonsense here but wanting a job while feeling ashamed for earning one is definitely in the top
As I mentioned in a reply to a different comment, I agree that it is contradictory. However, that is simply how I feel. On the one hand, I want to feel assured of a stable future (which does not necessitate maximizing my earning potential, mind you), but at the same time I feel overwhelming shame at wanting to “take the easy path” by making less risky choices, making said choices impossible to actually live out.
 
  • #6
1,841
209
The more marketable route is less risky, but it sure as heck isn't "the easy path".
 
  • Like
Likes Dale
  • #7
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2019 Award
25,676
8,870
You really need to get your head on straight. I have seen a lot of nonsense here but wanting a job while feeling ashamed for earning one is definitely in the top
I agree.

@QB18ND23 ,
  1. The universe doesn't owe you a job
  2. The universe definitely doesn't owe you the exact job that you want, and in the other thread you sound very picky
  3. Everything I said about the universe goes double for a foreign country
The quicker you accept this and adapt to it, the happier you will be.
 
  • Like
Likes berkeman
  • #8
30,324
6,801
I agree that it is contradictory. However, that is simply how I feel.
Are you an artist or a scientist? How you feel is irrational, so the obvious solution is to get over your feelings. Feelings are are not immutable facts of the universe. You can either ignore feelings or change them.

Make a conscious decision one way or the other. You are in charge of your emotions, not vice versa. Decide if your academic goal of physics is worth the economic risk, if it is worth it then accept the cost. If not then change your goal and accept the change (goals are also not immutable).


I feel overwhelming shame at wanting to “take the easy path”
Your feelings here are not based in reality at all.

There is no career advice to give you, this is a mental problem. Your emotions are self-contradictory and self-defeating. Change or ignore them. If you cannot put your mind over your heart then drop science altogether and pursue art as you haven’t the temperament to behave ethically as a scientist.
 
  • Like
Likes Miles123K, russ_watters and Vanadium 50
  • #9
16
1
I agree.

@QB18ND23 ,
  1. The universe doesn't owe you a job
  2. The universe definitely doesn't owe you the exact job that you want, and in the other thread you sound very picky
  3. Everything I said about the universe goes double for a foreign country
The quicker you accept this and adapt to it, the happier you will be.
Who said anything about a foreign country?
 
  • #10
16
1
Are you an artist or a scientist? How you feel is irrational, so the obvious solution is to get over your feelings. Feelings are are not immutable facts of the universe. You can either ignore feelings or change them.

Make a conscious decision one way or the other. You are in charge of your emotions, not vice versa. Decide if your academic goal of physics is worth the economic risk, if it is worth it then accept the cost. If not then change your goal and accept the change (goals are also not immutable).


Your feelings here are not based in reality at all.

There is no career advice to give you, this is a mental problem. Your emotions are self-contradictory and self-defeating. Change or ignore them. If you cannot put your mind over your heart then drop science altogether and pursue art as you haven’t the temperament to behave ethically as a scientist.
It’s not easy to “change my emotions” when they are likely a product me being on the autism spectrum. That isn’t a mental problem I can just “get over.”
Based on replies to a similar thread I made on a different forum, I believe you are being unnecessarily negative. It is true that the path to what I desire will be more difficult, but it is possible with the right choices along the way.
 
  • #11
Choppy
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
4,607
1,726
Graduating with a physics degree does not mean you'll graduate without a job. Nor does changing majors into engineering guarantee that you'll have a job in hand when they hand you your degree.

What's important is that you're thinking about this now, rather than in the last semester of your degree. You'll have time to do internships, work summer jobs, and develop a marketable skill set over the course of your degree.

If you want data on employment for physicists, one good place to start is with the AIP statistics center:
https://www.aip.org/statistics/reports/whos-hiring-physics-bachelors
 
  • Informative
Likes Dale
  • #12
30,324
6,801
I believe you are being unnecessarily negative
You have this backwards. We both recognize the fact that your emotions are self contradictory. I however assert that emotions can be overcome or changed, a positive and empowering assertion. You assert that your emotions are fixed and unchangeable, a negative and defeatist assertion. Of the two of us it is you who are being negative.

What you are sensing from me is not negativity, it is a lack of validation. You would like for your emotions to be treated as through they were valid, but they clearly are not.

they are likely a product me being on the autism spectrum
We cannot give medical advice. If this is truly a medical issue then you need to seek treatment from a medical professional.

Thread closed.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes russ_watters

Related Threads on How hard is it for physics majors to graduate with a job offer?

Replies
3
Views
4K
  • Last Post
3
Replies
74
Views
51K
Replies
9
Views
5K
Replies
10
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
4K
Replies
8
Views
1K
Replies
4
Views
970
Top