Physics Employment: What Are Physics Majors Doing After Graduation?

In summary: You'll likely need to do better than average to get in.Sorry, but graduate school is highly competitive.
  • #1
I'm set to start university this fall but the problem is I can't decide on what to major in. I've been thinking about majoring in Physics for the past few months because I really liked Physics and Calculus in high school and did pretty well in them. The only problem with majoring in Physics is there aren't many direct jobs for a Physics major. I may or may not go on to graduate school for Physics so being able to get a job out of undergrad is kind of required. I've heard that Physics majors are versatile because they learn 'problem solving skills', but I just don't see it happening [getting an unrelated job]. I've been thinking about getting a Comp Sci or CIS/IT minor and getting an on-campus job as helpdesk support so I could work in IT if I decide on not going to grad school. Would I be an ideal candidate for basic sysadmin work with such a degree (major: Physics minor: CS or CIS/IT) if I DON'T go to graduate school? To all you other Physics majors (particularly those who didn't go to graduate school), where are you working and what are you doing?


I know this has been discussed numerous times but I'd rather have a new discussion/poll on what people are doing rather than discussing possible jobs.
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  • #2
With the exception of people taking professional degrees, I think the majority of people end up in fields outside of their original field of study.

Having a part-time job during school can heavily influence your employability when you graduate - especially one like you described. One of my close friends works as a systems administrator and his degree was in political science.
  • #3
I have a physics undergrad degree and I work as a physics programmer for an internet company. I had a job as a field engineer in the oil industry prior to my current position. Having some classes in computer science or programming will help you out but I wouldn't worry too much about having a minor in anything.
  • #5
it is very difficult to find a job from physics. if you are interested in physics, go for EE. it has lot of physics in it, specially in semiconductor field. and EE degree will give you much more job options than physics .. i will not encourage to do physics if you have option to go for EE or CS and if you are keen to work in industry,
  • #6
Wow, just realized I forgot a few words in my post.
It should be "How to get a Job in Physics" and not "How to get a Physics."
  • #7
Sorry for bumping this thread, but is it possible for an average student to get in a decent grad school for a PhD? I was reading the admissions thread over at and it's crazy. People with a 3.8 GPA from top 20 schools, undergraduate research, and 900s on the physics GRE were getting rejected from Harvard/Yale/Cornell/etc. I know I'm not tier 1 material, but would I be able to get into an ok PhD program with a a ~3.4 GPA?
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  • #8
A very good undergraduate student can get into grad school at a comparably ranked university. An outstanding student can move up, and a pretty good student can get in by moving down. Average will require moving down by more than a little.
  • #9
Vanadium 50 said:
A very good undergraduate student can get into grad school at a comparably ranked university. An outstanding student can move up, and a pretty good student can get in by moving down. Average will require moving down by more than a little.

That's a little alarming. Who knows, I might do significantly better than 3.4 at university. I'm not going to a particularly difficult school and I did very well (near the top) in math and science in high school...I was just average at English and history however.
  • #10
When should I know what I want to study in graduate school? As of now I find nuclear physics and condensed matter interesting but then again I haven't taken any classes yet.
  • #11
cdotter said:
That's a little alarming.

Sorry, but graduate school is highly competitive. Look how many graduate student slots there are compared to undergraduates. Mediocre grades at a "not particularly difficult" school don't look as good as high grades from top tier schools.

1. What types of jobs can I get with a physics degree?

Physics majors can pursue a variety of career paths, including research positions in academia, government laboratories, and private industries. They can also work in fields such as engineering, data analysis, finance, and education.

2. Is a graduate degree necessary for a career in physics?

While a graduate degree can open up more opportunities in the field of physics, it is not always necessary for employment. Many entry-level positions in research, engineering, and data analysis can be obtained with a bachelor's degree in physics.

3. What skills do physics majors develop that are valuable in the job market?

Physics majors develop strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as proficiency in math, data analysis, and computer programming. They also gain experience in conducting experiments, analyzing data, and communicating complex ideas effectively.

4. Are there any non-traditional career paths for physics majors?

Yes, many physics majors find success in non-traditional career paths such as patent law, science writing, and science policy. The analytical and problem-solving skills developed in a physics degree can be applied to a wide range of industries and professions.

5. How can I increase my chances of finding employment after graduation as a physics major?

To increase your chances of finding employment after graduation, it is important to gain practical experience through internships or research projects. Networking with professionals in the field and showcasing your skills and experience through a strong resume and cover letter can also help in the job search process.

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