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Physics What can I do with a BS in Physics

  1. May 16, 2012 #1
    So I am going to graduate with a BS in physics next year, I have plans to go to grad school for EE (I know im going to have to take undergrad courses to make up work I dont have) but I also want to hedge my bet on grad school (I might not get in, paying for it may be a problem etc.) so im wondering what kind of job I could get with a BS in physics. I read one thread on here that ended up with a bunch of people being harsh and angry about physics and engineering, so id appreciate if we could keep this civil.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2012 #2
  4. May 16, 2012 #3
    I see mostly people say look for easy-ish engineering jobs, I was more wondering how I could easily get my foot in the door somewhere, also anyone have any idea how bad my chances of getting into an MS program (not top program) with a 3.3 cumulative (though I switched major) and a 3.5 ish physics gpa?
  5. May 17, 2012 #4
    As someone who is ahead of you in this regard, let me tell you that there is no such thing as an "easy-ish" engineering job. Go look at job ads for engineering on something like Monster, Indeed, Dice, whatever. Look at the requirements. Those are things you are not likely to know as a physics major.

    There are non-engineering engineering jobs, like "sales engineering" or "test engineering", stuff that takes "engineering" to mean "we need someone smart to make things happen". You might have a better shot at that, since the requirements tend not to be as strict.

    Programming is a choice. Those are the only interviews I've actually gotten so far. Depends on how well you can program, though. In my education I learned programming on the side while doing undergrad research. I didn't really take any classes in it.

    I've also heard that general management might work. No idea what the starting pay for something like that could even be. Probably really low unless you have a business degree of some sort. I mean, if you have a physics degree and are looking at management, they know you're desparate enough to take a lower salary. Anyway, I can't imagine really doing it myself, so I've stayed away from that.
  6. May 17, 2012 #5
    yeah, obviously I know engineering ist "easy" in any respect, as far as programming goes im acruing some experience, I know java, including android, python MATLAB, and im probs going to throw in C sometime
  7. May 18, 2012 #6
    I know, but what you were saying is that you'd go for engineering jobs that didn't have a lot of requirements. I'm just trying to say that those don't really exist. At least not now.

    Then you're doing pretty well. I really only know C/C++ and MATLAB and am having kind of a tough time. You might want to skip C and go with something like Ruby if you already know Java and Python. Basically there are a few different "fields" of software development from what I've seen.

    • Web-based programs that use Java and scripting languages (Perl and PHP come to mind too, as does Ruby)
    • Offline software that uses C/C++ and often require knowledge of how networks work, also requiring you to have experience using Visual Studio and the .NET framework.
    • Embedded software that uses C/C++ and really requires you to know computer architecture and the electronics behind computers.

    Obviously there is stuff in between, but these are the three main "types" of jobs I've seen offered. I myself would really love the embedded software job, but there is no real way for me to learn about this stuff without having the actual hardware, so I don't think I'll get that job. More likely I'm looking at the 2nd category, but still have some learning to do.

    As for you, my advice is to stick to one "type" and get better with it. Learning C after you know Java won't help *too* much since I don't often see them used together. You'd be better off learning a language that is used in conjunction with Java more often, like Perl or SQL.
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