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What can I do to make my physics bachelor more marketable?

  1. Apr 19, 2013 #1
    When I chose physics as my major a few years ago I really did not think about the fact I'd have to find a job someday, I just wanted to study something interesting. Well, here I am now, wishing I'd gone with engineering or something instead. Since I'm also burned out on college in general, I'll have to make the best of this physics bachelor and I'm just wondering if there's anything I can do to make it more attractive? I don't expect to do anything physics related and I sure as hell can't teach, so I'm looking to see if I can perhaps do engineering work. For instance, I was thinking about taking the FE exam, which you can do without an engineering degree in some states. Is that something an employer may value? What else can I do?
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 19, 2013 #2
    Make yourself look like a leader. FE is good. Short courses or certification in any tech discipline is good.

    Helping run a technical society (eg on an IEEE committee), sporting coaching (that comes with a certification you can put in your resume), first aid, occupational health & safety.

    1-2 Microsoft certifications or project management certification looks good too.

    You can do some of these certifications in a day. Use time wisely.
  4. Apr 19, 2013 #3
    Did you pick up any employable skills while getting your degree? Programming and instrumentation are examples. Did you learn C++ or Java? How to operate SEM, TEM, etc? General lab work, or Labview?

    I worry that the FE exam will have very little value without skills that employers will find valuable. Being a PE has no value by itself, it's just that sometimes it can add value to other work you do, or allow you to do work you could not otherwise do.
  5. Apr 21, 2013 #4
    Thanks for the replies.

    Can you give an example of such courses/certifications that would look good on a resume? I've been looking around, but haven't found anything so far.

    I've picked up some C++, but not enough to be useful in a work environment. I know there are plenty of programming jobs out there, but I think it would take me too much time to catch up now. That's why I was looking at engineering work, since I figured I might be able to do that without an additional months/years worth of training before I can even to start to apply. I know stuff like Mathemetica, but I doubt any employer cares about that.
  6. Apr 21, 2013 #5
    I'm in the same situation (except I'm still interested in pursuing further study and don't have any regrets of having studied physics).

    To answer the thread's question: get a graduate degree in something if you can afford it. I hate to be pessimistic, but it looks like the only way you'll get an engineering job in this climate is if the employer can't find anyone with an engineering degree for the position that isn't a convicted felon or if you have some serious contacts that will overlook your the fact your degree says physics instead of engineering.

    99% of job offers with the word "engineer" over at usajobs, monster and individual company websites that I thought a physics BSc might have a chance at (telecom/RF and optics companies) don't invite for anyone with science degrees to apply. You should still try applying to things you feel somewhat confident about even if they're meant for engineers though, an online application and modding your CV for the job only takes 5-10 minutes.

    A sibling of mine with contacts in the telecom industry is forwarding my resume all over the place without much success so far. If you don't know a specific work-relevant techniques like "power engineering" it is hard to convince a business you can do the job, much less make it through the resume filters on online applications.

    If you're a US citizen, look into the Dept of Defense and Dept of Energy jobs(national labs), defense contractors(Boeing, Raytheon, etc.), government institutions (NASA, environmental and meteorological agencies), and 3rd party environmental consultants.

    Just my opinion, but I wouldn't spend any money on certifications from random institutions unless it's something that is truly "official", recognized and transferable, like a reactor operator license, license to operate heavy machinery/vehicles, security clearance for government jobs, etc.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
  7. Apr 21, 2013 #6
    You didn't mention whether you had any other skills I listed - sample preparation, SEM/TEM operation, lab management, etc.

    If you don't, the odds of getting an engineering job are pretty slim. You simply don't have much to offer an employer. It's not impossible (I did, after all), but you need to have several other plans you're working on at the same time.

    There's probably a handful of ways you can get into various careers unrelated to physics. However, referring to the title of this thread, I'm pretty sure the only way you'll make your BS more marketable is to add an MS after it, and ensure you learn some marketable skills while in grad school.
  8. Apr 21, 2013 #7

    Dr Transport

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    No engineering degree from an ABET school, no ability to take the FE...
  9. Apr 24, 2013 #8
    I'm facing the same dilemma as the OP. I graduate this May; however, I chose to take a break between undergrad and grad. So it seems like I would be entering the lackluster job search armed with only a B.S. in Physics.

    I ended up choosing the certification route due to its potential cost to benefit ratio. However I've been studying for the GRE all semester and will be taking the exam this summer in case my job search doesn't pan out
  10. Apr 24, 2013 #9
    What kind of certification did you get?
  11. Apr 25, 2013 #10
    CompTIA A+. I plan on gettingn the network+ shortly maybe within 6 months and eventually the security+. When I first started, I thought was I was taking a step backwards versus my graduating class who were so gung ho about physics grad school; however, facing the reality that most will never attain professorship, the need to aquire "marketable" skills becomes important.
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