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

Physics Realistic Careers for Physics Bachelors

  1. Aug 27, 2010 #1
    I graduated with a BA in applied physics a few years ago with a good gpa, and I have since been working here and there at various office type jobs, and I want to start using my degree for a better job, but I am not sure what my options are. I originally went into physics because it would allow me to take the classes that sounded interesting to me in both the physics and engineering department without having to take the classes I don't want in either department, now I'm starting to think I should have just gone for an engineering degree. I thought that getting an engineering type job would be relatively easy with my degree, but that is not the case, and unfortunately I am starting to see that employers only care what your degree says, despite what your background, accomplishments or strength might be. For example, I know a few mech. engineers who have gotten jobs as an environmental engineer, despite never having taken an envir. engineer course. Yet, I can't even get an interview with a heating company even though I took all the thermo courses offered in the ME Dept. So, I am wondering what kind of jobs are you guys getting with only a bachelor's in physics?

    Just a note, I am now in a ME master's program, but I am uncertain about this move too because since I took limited engineering course, I may not pass the FE exam, and it will take me longer to become a fully licenses engineer because of the 6+ year experience requirement. Any thoughts?

    Thanks for any discussion.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2010 #2
    The kind of job I got with a BS in Physics is a process engineering job in the medical device industry. I wouldn't have picked the HVAC industry as a good fit for a physics background, if that is indeed what you mean.

    Easy may be the wrong way to describe getting an engineering job with a physics degree. Possible, perhaps. Depending on the employer, they may be accustoming to hiring people with a physics degree, or they may think you are crazy and route your resume to the circular file. Knowing the company is crucial here. Some networking with your former classmates or professors may be able to tell you which companies hire people with your degree.

    If you really want to work as an engineer, a Masters degree is not a bad thing. It is a good opportunity to fill in the gaps in your physics coursework so that an engineering company will consider you. One of the things I lacked moving into industry was CAD skills. I rectified this, but this is a pretty common thing that engineers will know that someone with a Bachelors in Physics may not. If you do not have this skill, I would recommend taking one or more courses in it. Statistics are also important in industry, and there are often introductory graduate level courses in stats that focus on Design of Experiments and other topics of interest in industry, such as Statistical Process Control.

    Getting your PE is useful too, but not necessarily required. Hardly anyone in my line of work has a PE, whereas in some other fields it is a necessity.
  4. Aug 30, 2010 #3
    thanks, that was really helpful. I guess I could try searching harder for a job and the right opportunity/match, but you're absolutely right about employers mindset when hiring non-engineers.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook