If you’re considering taking a physics course at university, or you’re already studying a physics degree programme as an undergraduate and are considering your next steps after graduation, it’s only natural to spend some time thinking about what kind of jobs you might be able to get with a physics degree.
There are a lot of wonderful skills that you learn as part of a physics degree that many employers value, whether that’s:
- Numerical skills;
- Report writing skills; or
- Research skills.
As a result, it can sometimes feel quite overwhelming when deciding what kind of jobs you might like to apply for after university. This article outlines the kinds of roles that physics graduates tend to enter into, and outlines ways that you can maximise your chances of landing your dream role.
10 Typical Physics Careers
In no particular order, below are 10 of the jobs associated with having a Physics degree.
An engineer working in the field of nanotechnology will seek to discover new inventions and advancements in technology that can impact health, science, technology and the environment in molecular ways. Part of their job is to test for negative pollutants, to create substances or powders that can enrich food and medicine and also study DNA.
A physicist is, as its name suggests, a scientist who studies the field of Physics, so specialising in the way matter and energy interact and looking at time scales, for instance, in the physical universe.
An Astronomer uses their knowledge of Maths and Physics to study celestial phenomena and objects and explain their origin and how they have evolved. An astronomer will usually specialise in planets, stars, moons, comets and galaxies.
In this field, workers are concerned with natural science and use quantitative methods to analyse the physical properties of the Earth and its surrounds.
5. Research Scientist
Research scientists analyse data from laboratory trials and assessments, which might include government, environmental or specialist labs at universities.
These scientists specialise in meteorology and operational meteorologists use their expert knowledge and mathematical models learnt to predict weather forecasts.
7. Sound Engineer
A sound engineer is responsible for assembling technical equipment and manipulating the sound by other amplifying it, enhancing it or mixing it, for example. Sound engineers work across a range of different contexts from managing sound at live music events to managing acoustics during recording sessions in a studio.
As a metallurgist, you'll work on the extraction and processing of metal and alloy materials. Your job will involve examining how metals such as iron, aluminium, steel, copper and nickel perform and assign uses for them according to their properties.
9. Technical Author
Thought working in physics meant wearing a lab coat and being involved in hands-on studies all day? Not necessarily! If you have a flair for writing and have lots of knowledge to pass on thanks to an interest in a certain physics field, then you have every chance of becoming a skilled technical writer who publishes technical content for a living.
10. Physics Teacher
Finally, one of the more overlooked roles that a physics graduate with a bachelor of science degree could take is that of a physics teacher.
Currently, the UK is facing a shortage of teachers in particular disciplines, including physics and mathematics. As a result, the government is keen to attract physics graduates to teaching roles, offering incentives such as bursaries in order to help get more teachers into the classroom.
If you’ve always thought that teaching could be for you, then now is a great time to consider teaching as a career once you’ve completed your physics studies at your university or your graduate studies.
Will I Have To Work In A Physics-Related Job If I Have A Physics Degree?
The short answer is no! Thankfully, having a degree in physics does not mean that you’re confined to taking a job that is directly related to your degree, although naturally, you can also apply for such jobs if you want to.
There are many different fields that physics graduates enter into, such as:
- Business and finance;
- Government research;
- Oil and gas;
- Science and engineering; and
- Technology, among many others.
However, your options aren’t just limited there. You could also apply for roles that aren’t directly related to physics, including jobs such as a management consultant, patent attorney, accountant, meteorologist, or investment analyst.
Equally, jobs that place emphasis on strong mathematics skills can also be good options for physics graduates to pursue.
How Can I Increase My Chances Of Success When Applying For Physics Graduate Jobs?
It’s no secret that if you want to land your dream job you should try and stand out from the crowd as much as possible.
While physics graduates generally have a lot of skills that appeal to employers, that’s not to say there aren’t other ways to also make your application shine.
Which Skills Do Employers Value?
There’s no single right answer when it comes to what qualities each employer looks for in job applicants, but as a general rule, employers may value some of the interdisciplinary skills that a physics graduate has picked up throughout the course of their degree, including:
- Communication skills;
- Data analysis and research skills;
- Problem-solving skills; and
- I.T. skills, potentially including some knowledge of programming.
To use an example, if you apply for a position as an investment analyst, an employer would be very interested in the strength of your numerical and data processing skills, as it’s highly likely that part of your role will involve working on or with data models.
What Else Can I Do To Boost My C.V.?
One of the best ways to make an impact on potential employers in your prospective application for a role is to show that you have relevant work experience under your belt. This shows that you have some insight into what the job will entail and have experience working in a position that other applicants may not have.
The kind of work experience or internship you should apply for will depend on the types of jobs you would like to apply for. For instance, if you would really like to remain working within physics or the sciences, then gaining some work experience as a laboratory assistant may prove invaluable.
You might also be in a position where your degree includes an industrial placement or work experience opportunities. If this is the case, be sure to make the most of your time on placement, as it can really help boost your chances of landing a job you’d like.
If your course doesn’t offer an internship or industrial placement programme, don’t fret. There are plenty of organisations that offer summer internships that you can apply for. Generally speaking, such internships accept applicants that are in the penultimate year of their degree.
If you need extra help finding the right internship opportunities for you, consider speaking to the careers adviser at your school or university for further guidance on what preparation you can undertake to get your C.V. ready to send to prospective employers.
Getting Your Physics Degree Is Just The First Step to your dream Career
Having spent three years as a student at university studying towards a degree in physics can be a real benefit when it comes to applying for graduate level jobs, as many employers will value the mathematical and analytical skills that you can bring to a role.
However, in order to get your dream job, you also need to ensure that your education is on par with the job’s requirements. Some positions will be offered to undergraduates on the proviso that they achieve at least a 2.1 in their degrees, although some employers are also open to accepting candidates who have obtained a 2.2 or less. A master is also a good bet for getting those more advanced jobs, as you'll be ahead of the students with fewer certificates than you.
Given that it's in your best interest to get the best possible degree when leaving university, if you find yourself lagging behind in academic performance, or simply want to ensure you have the best chances of graduating with the highest degree possible, then you may want to consider engaging a physics and maths tutor to help get you up to speed with any areas of your physics curriculum that you’re unsure of. You'll wish you did it months ago!
Superprof has a range of physics tutors to choose from. These people, some highly qualified physicists themselves, are able to offer online and in-person tuition to suit a range of budgets and covering a wide array of information and post college level content. We also have blogs covering where to look for a physics and maths tutor and how much a physics tutor should cost.
If you found this useful, why not check out our blog on 10 reasons to study physics!