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.
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.
When it comes to specific roles, jobs that physics graduates could apply for which are usually related to their degree include jobs such as a nanotechnologist, physicist, astrophysicist, geophysicist, and research scientist.
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.
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.
Note that the jobs described above are just some examples of the kinds of jobs that you could get, so keep an open mind when applying for positions and think about your own career goals. When pursuing your dream job try to focus on a field that interests you and apply for positions that you think you would like to have a career in.
Not All Physics Graduates Enter The Workforce Straight Away
Another thing that’s worthwhile considering is the fact that not every physics graduate will enter the workforce straightaway after graduating.
Some may decide to take a year or so out of study and work, perhaps to go travelling and explore the world, or to help out on a few charitable projects that are close to their heart.
Equally, other graduates might decide that postgraduate study is right for them. This might mean taking the plunge and taking on a master's degree in physics or a related discipline with your university's physics department, such as:
- Theoretical physics;
- Engineering physics;
- Quantum mechanics;
- Thermodynamics; or
Alternatively, graduates could take on a postgraduate study from a different field entirely, such as a subject from the humanities, or business and finance.
If you feel as though your future may lie in academia and you would ultimately like to work towards a PhD, or you have a passion for physics and would love to study it further at your academic institution, then completing a form of postgraduate study is certainly worth considering.
If it is a route you would like to go down and would like further advice, your school’s or university’s careers adviser should be able to give you the information you need regarding the admission criteria of various universities that you would need to meet to undertake postgraduate study.
You might have a long conversation about your future opportunities with your physics and maths tutor...
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
Having a degree in physics can be a real benefit when it comes to applying for 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 academic performance 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 degree, although some employers are also open to accepting candidates who have obtained a 2.2 or less.
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.
For example, you may want help with some numerical elements of the course or would like to revise some of the key areas and principles that were taught during the academic year.
Equally, if you’re still at school studying for your A-Level exams, but know that you would like to study physics at university, then having a tutor help you as you prepare for your final exams could prove invaluable in helping you get the best result possible and maximising the chances of being accepted into your first choice university.
Superprof has a range of physics tutors to choose from, who are able to offer remote and in-person tuition to suit a range of budgets. 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!