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Jobs for a bachelors degree in physics?

  1. Jul 28, 2013 #1
    I plan on getting a bachelors in physics at my university. My question is what kind of jobs will I be able to get? I want to know any possible jobs, including ones that aren't related in physics. Also, say if I were to also double major or minor in economics or applied math. What sorts of careers would be available to me then?
     
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  3. Jul 29, 2013 #2
    I would be very interested in other people answers to this question. IMO it seems Physics should be pursued at the graduate level if one wants to find a job, undergraduate education doesn't teach much that is needed to jump in right after graduation.


    I think it really depends on the kind of internship that you get during your Bsc years since most stuffs you are going to study is theory. If you're thinking about taking econ and applied maths classes: take statistics and probability theory, an introductory C++ class, PDE, and Linear Algreba. For economics, Micro/Macro should be minimum. It can be a good preparation for a Financial Engineering Msc , and if you have good enough grades, you may be able to get an assistant position in quantitative finance (I've seen jobs ads, but they're are rare for undergraduate students)
     
  4. Jul 29, 2013 #3

    vela

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    You might find this APS page helpful: http://www.aps.org/programs/education/whystudy.cfm

    Employers will typically train you for whatever job you get right out of college. You go to college to learn how to learn and how to think critically, not learn a set of particular skills for some job. It's great if you pick specific skills up along the way, but often you can pick those up as needed on the job. Employers want people who can think and learn new skills as needed.
     
  5. Jul 29, 2013 #4
    In my experience this is idealistic not realistic. Employers are looking for people with the specific skills and ability they need. This is why networking is so important for getting a job, those who are already in the field with the applicable skills are the ones who get hired.

    I agree with what Raioneru says, "Physics should be pursued at the graduate level if one wants to find a job, undergraduate education doesn't teach much that is needed to jump in right after graduation."

    A standard physics BS curriculum trains you to be a physics graduate student. Thats about it. Teach for America also actively recruits unskilled physics BS holders. Beyond that its up to the student to get the marketable skills needed to land a career. This is usually done by going to graduate school, doing research or internships. I think something like 70% of physics BS holders eventually get a graduate degree.
     
  6. Jul 29, 2013 #5

    MarneMath

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    Sometimes, I wonder where people think every Art History, English, Music, and philosophy major ends up? I think a lot of people on this forum focus on STEM and say, "oh you got a physics degree, you can only do xxx or yyy or else you'll never work." The fact of the matter is that you can find a job. Sure, it won't be a STEM, and it may be in a corporate environment, but you can find a job and career, and even be happy. Every single friend I know who was a math major is employed right now. Only a handful work as programmers or do something technical, the rest are just run of the mill corporate bees managing corporate accounts, and part of an advertisement team. Heck, I even know one that helps run product tests (ie determine if the target audience likes the product.) What an employer wants is exactly what vela says. Very few people have the skills needed to be productive and useful at their first job. Sure some jobs require specific knowledge about topic xyz. Sure experience is helpful, but even with experience and knowledge, how it is done in the confines of education versus how something is done in the get results business are often quite different and need to be taught.
     
  7. Jul 29, 2013 #6

    Evo

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    Very true, an undergraduate is not expected to have established skills, that is why they usually get entry or lower level jobs where the employer expects to train the new hire.
     
  8. Jul 29, 2013 #7
    I think most people here are well aware of that. Still, we get STEM degrees with the hopes of getting STEM careers. I was able to land a job after school, after quite a bit of searching. But like the Art History majors, etc, it was not related to my degree or STEM at all which is a bummer.

    In my experience the grads who got specific skills are the ones who got the STEM careers and higher pay. They often got recruited by companies who needed their specific expertise, either from an internship, research or a specially crafted professional scientist masters degree. It is possible to land a STEM career right out of school. To do so you have to be a little more proactive than expecting on the job training, you need to have a specific skill set to market.

    Otherwise, of course we can all just get a job and learn to be happy without a STEM career. It is all first worlds problems anyway. I do fine without a STEM career, though I still try to get one. I have a job, but I want a better one or a career and there is nothing wrong with that.
     
  9. Mar 14, 2014 #8
    As a fresh graduate trying to find any kind of employment beyond the 'no college degree required' level for the past year, I gotta go with Modus, this ain't happening nowadays, not without a serious helping hand from contacts that you may or may not get the opportunity to make during your time at an undergrad school.

    Not to cast assumptions on your age, but I think things were radically different for a fresh physics BS that was flexible many years ago. Today this is not really the case. A BS is the new high school diploma. With the glut of graduates with specific skills that employers have to choose from, it's a buyer's market.

    If you are a US citizen with the ability to pass security clearances, it opens the door a little wider to employers that are a lot more physicist-friendly than the typical private corporation. Ie: US navy, army, NASA and DOE internships, defense contractors like Northrop Grumann and Lockheed Martin, Exelis, etc. About 90-95% of the job advertisements I've ever seen in the past year that explicitly wanted BS Physics majors at the starting entry level were from these enterprises. The remainder were microscopy forensics, the occasional financial analyst group in NYC which explicitly only wants Ivy league/top-20 school graduates, and 1 or 2 optics manufacturing firms. Everything else = PhD or a specific MS required.

    I recommend having a gander at APS' job statistics for recent physics graduates. They have a US map with a list of employers that have hired physics bachelors straight out of college by state. Mostly, they seemed to be small manufacturing firms and occasionally bigger corps like 3M, Xerox, and OFSOptics. This is a good place to look and find companies to seek out in your region and follow suit, I am doing this right now.

    Link:
    http://www.aip.org/statistics/whos-hiring-physics-bachelors

    Essentially, without a graduate degree, I strongly doubt anyone who stops his/her physics education at the bachelors level is going to make it into a career-style job.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  10. Mar 14, 2014 #9
    It depends on the employer. Not all employers are willing to train new graduates these days.
     
  11. Apr 20, 2014 #10
    Modus, please Inbox me I have been wanting to speak with you for awhile.

    "In my experience the grads who got specific skills are the ones who got the STEM careers and higher pay. They often got recruited by companies who needed their specific expertise, either from an internship, research or a specially crafted professional scientist masters degree. It is possible to land a STEM career right out of school. To do so you have to be a little more proactive than expecting on the job training, you need to have a specific skill set to market."

    Im glad you too have realized this Modus. What always gets me is that people assume that just because you have an engineering degree in particular that you should get a job easily. Being a physics BS major who has alot of associates who are engineers, I know this is not really true. Many of the engineers I know who got jobs what only because of 1) multiple internships with companies (which obviously are not easy to get and you have to qualify for as they are selective) 2)Had some good connections with family-friends in business (again not everybody has those privileges) 3) Worked close with some faculty member who so happened to have a connection with a certain industry. And the truth is, even though engineering is prefered for alot of companies, there are plenty of related jobs that hire science math majors having the same adavantages. BOTTOMLINE: NOTHING IS TOTALLY ON THE MERIT OF ANY STEM DEGREE ALONE. Some may have better job ratio/ pay rate than others, but it doesnt really escape the cycle of Experience > Education attainment.
     
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