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Programs What can you do with a bachelor's degree in physics?

here's my dilemma: I really want to pursue a physics undergrad, but I absolutely do not want a career in academia -- maybe later in life, but not for another forty years... so...

what graduate degrees can you pursue?
do graduate mechanical engineering programs accept physics undergrads?
can you pursue a master's in computer science?
what private industry or research & development careers are available to physics graduates?

also, what do people think about computer engineering? how would you compare it to physics in terms of job opportunities, salary, and an overall career choice?

thanks for anybody who responds, I don't post much but I learn about from this forum...
Unless you're pursuing a higher degree than a bachelors in physics your options are limited. It seems like the majority of people with BS in physics just work with all ready collected data.

You can join graduate engineering programs with a background in physics, most people tend to think it's easier to go from physics to engineering vs. engineering to physics, so that is an option.

Real work in the private sector seems to be reserved mostly to masters and PhD's, mostly PhD's it seems.

You'd probably make more working in the private sector for physics with a higher degree than with an engineering degree, however it would probably be muc, much easier to obtain a job in engineering.
Go to grad school, get a job in a private sector lab, make billions, rule the world?


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Why gives you the desire to pursue physics in undergrad, but not a career in academia? If you're not yet in university, how do you even really know what a career in academia entails?

The real answer to your original question is essentially this: anything you want. The study of physics will give you an understanding of the fundamental rules that govern the phyisical world on a more intimate and detailed level than any other discipline - scientific or otherwise. What you do with this is then up to you. Many people go on to pursue the study on a deeper level - pushing it to the point where they are able to contribute meaningful advances in the field. Others figure out how to apply this knowledge to real world problems and build careers from that point.

It will not, however, guarantee you employment in any particular field.
In the UK I'd say the most common subject specific profession for physics graduates is
school teaching (there's a massive shortage of qualified physics teachers here). But most end up in jobs like accountancy, finance, city banking, the civil service, etc. where numeracy and problem solving skills are in demand; it's certainly not a degree that narrows down your job options! The other subject specific options you'd have would be in places like defence contractors. If you wanted to go sideways into another academic field, many engineering PhD programs will take physics graduates, or there's MSc courses in various aspects of IT and computer science- the amount of computing in modern lab courses woud give you a good head start in that sort of area. If you take courses in theoretical physics you could also venture into certain topics in applied maths .
Why gives you the desire to pursue physics in undergrad, but not a career in academia? If you're not yet in university, how do you even really know what a career in academia entails.

in my freshman & sophomore years I took two calculus's, two chemistry's, and one intro to physics... but the physics course stuck with me, I really enjoyed it... it's the first class I've taken where I devoted personal time to the subject after the class was over...

now I have to declare a major, and I was going to major in computer engineering and double minor in physics & business... but I was looking over the physics course catalog, and ALL the classes are intriguing... currently I have a 4.0 and I definitely plan on going to grad school... so I"m weighing my options on what I could pursue if I major in physics -- I already know what I can do with a computer engineering or business degree...

and I know I'm not interested in teaching... I just don't think it's something I would enjoy...

thanks for all the responses... any advice is appreciated...
I would highly recommend that u get 2 bachelor degrees (depending on what u want to achieve), one in some engineering subject and another one in physics. You may have to invesigate which universities would allow you to do that, I know here in Australia they offer an option to complete both degrees in just 5 years, and of course after that your options are extremely extended and better chance of getting jobs than if you only had one bachelor degree, regardless on what subject.
And of course, if you want to specialize in Physics and you really like it you should aspire for a Masters or a PhD, because undergraduate degrees are just like kindergarten: they get you started into something but you really need to keep it on if you want to get far.

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