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Job Skills Where to go after MS in physics

  1. Aug 28, 2017 #1
    I am currently on the job hunt after finishing my Masters degree in physics. I also have my BS in physics as well. I have been told that looking for jobs in engineering and finance will be where i have the most success, but it seems as though every company has very specific job requirements (such as experience using a specific type of software, or working with very specific systems).

    Although I am applying for jobs in California at the typical defense contractors and such, I am starting to feel discouraged that I may have to go back for another masters in engineering or something. It has been about a month to month and a half and still haven't heard from any employer. Is this a normal experience for some?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2017 #2


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    If you're a recent graduate, a month to a month and a half isn't particularly unusual in terms of length of time waiting. I've known people who have waited up to 6 months before landing their first job straight out of college/university.

    All of that being said, what you haven't really mentioned here are what skills you can bring that is useful to employers. Can you code? Do you have any type of work experience or internship experience? Did you a complete a thesis or a project with your Masters degree? If so, in what field? These are the kinds of things that employers notice when looking for candidates, and you could highlight those in your resume.

    And of course, networking is critical. Do you know of any recent graduates, and where they have ended up working? Have you spoken to your professors, or people you otherwise may know? The more people you can reach out to, the better your chances of landing something. Also, keep an eye out for conferences or industry conventions, which would give you an opportunity to meet potential employers face to face.

    Hope my advice here is useful. Best of luck!
  4. Aug 28, 2017 #3
    Thank you. I have some experience using Python, MATLAB, Mathematica, and some LabView. However, I am not sure what constitutes the proficiency they are searching for.
    My strengths are similar to many physicists in that I am a quick learner, I can view problems in many perspectives, and I have a fairly broad based physical knowledge and strong mathematical skills. My thesis project was in the area of medical physics, but I have since backed out of my prospective PhD program as I really just want a job at this point. This project has exposed me to a lot of radiation health physics (no pun intended), radiation measurements (HPGE, NAI, Geiger) and MRI physics and operation.
    I have been reaching out to friends in the industry as well, but i can't help but feel a bit worried.
  5. Aug 28, 2017 #4
    There is also the issue of timing. For many companies, hiring is tied to their fiscal years. In the US, common fiscal years start Jan 1 (calendar year) or Oct 1 (US federal government fiscal year); less common fiscal years start on July 1 or Sept 1. Hiring is commonly done early in the fiscal year, once the funds have been approved: there is always a concern that later in the fiscal year, if financial targets are not met, funding will be yanked, so managers tend to hire as soon as possible once funds are available. Many companies that do a lot of business with the US federal government (these include defense contractors) naturally tie themselves to the US federal government fiscal year. Since they are nearly at the end of their fiscal year, don't expect much hiring until new funds have been approved. Similarly, with companies whose fiscal year starts Jan 1, they are now entering their last fiscal quarter, and hiring will be slow. There are exceptions, of course: if a company receives a blockbuster contract and is short on staff, it will hire at any time; and if key staff members leave, it can backfill at any time. Waiting several months+ to land a job is par for the course.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2017
  6. Aug 29, 2017 #5
    Since you have training in medical physics, have you considered applying for a radiology technician position?
  7. Aug 29, 2017 #6


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    If you have a master's degree in medical physics (and if you want to stay in the field) your first priority job-wise should be a residency. If you're avoiding it because you need money, remember most residents are paid, some are paid quite well. That said, you'll likely have to wait a while for the AAPM's residency matching program to roll around, which happens the spring as that's where most residents are hired out of. Some places will just hire junior medical physicists these days too, which is where some MSc grads end up.

    You could also try looking for a medical physics assistant position. The minimum qualifications for these is typically a bachelor's degree in physics.

    Another option might be radiation safety officer or health physicist positions (look in radiation therapy hospitals, radiopharmaceutical industry, nuclear plants, etc.)

    There is also a commercial industry around medical physics with an array of companies that make things from linear accelerators and CT units, to much smaller companies that make specialized equipment of patient immobilization, beam scanning, detectors, brachytherapy applicators, etc. The ASTRO meeting is coming up in about a month and most of the major vendors are usually there. While not cheap to attend, it might be a good opportunity to speak to the major vendors and take the temperature of the job market.
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