Careers in PhysicsMarch 4, 2010
College students change their major an average of three times in the four years in school, according to collegeboard.com. Deciding what career to do for the rest of your life that will support your eating-out habits and your obsession with ordering things off Amazon is enough to make you start hyperventilating.
Advisors are beginning to see a trend in the number of jobs that are open to particular majors. More people are beginning to change career paths numerous times in their lifetime. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found a jump in the number of jobs the average person will hold in a lifetime.
The question is no longer, "What can I do with my major," but "What can't I do?"
Many Paths for Physicists
Physics majors have long been viewed as one-option-career-path physicists. However, that is no longer the case. A degree in physics covers a wide array of job offers, from specialized engineering to optometry. According to the bureau of labor statistics, physicists hold about 17,100 jobs in the US.
Because physics is the study of learning how things work, students in this field develop step-by-step problem solving abilities using skills in math, observation and communication. Physic majors develop a critical way of thinking that contributes to a variety of professions.
The job outlook for physicists is experiencing faster-than-average job growth. No longer are students waiting for professors or established physicists to retire so they may be able to take their place. Similarly, opportunities in the industry are just as numerous as those in universities and university research.
"It is time for the academic physics community to redefine what a physicist is and to embrace industrial physicists (bachelors, masters, and PhD's) as their colleagues. It is also time for the industry to take the mask off these hidden physicists and identify them by their proper title. The physics profession and industry would be well served if both these things happened," says Dr. Jay Dittman, associate professor of Physics.
Physics in Business, Medicine and Science
A Bachelor of Science in physics provides a solid base for students hoping to earn an advanced degree in areas beyond science or medicine, such as business, law or accounting.
Business is a good path for physics major because of the rigorous math courses students have undertaken. They would become an asset as economists by developing models, predictions and research regarding future economic conditions. Many physicists that go into business find themselves becoming executives or owners of companies.
Physicists develop a way of thinking that various fields need in order to create technological advances or to conduct research.
In a world where ipads and touch screen machines are becoming common fixtures in our lives, there is a need for people in the legal profession that are able to not only create patents and contracts, but who can also understand the scientific complexities behind such contracts.
If a physic major decides to go into the medical field there are other job possibilities besides becoming a doctor. Hospitals or manufacturers of diagnostic tools look for employees that can create machines that are in need in the health care system, such as MRIs or CAT scans.
Technology plays an important role for physicists for research and product development. Companies look for people that are able to test new devices involving superconductivity, optics, or lasers. Those areas are familiar territory for physics majors.
Much More Than a Major
Overall, the outlook for physics majors is bright. A variety of career opportunities offer a good match between a student's interest in physics and a job in any number of industries. Rapid advances in technology and the many applications of physics open up options for students that may not have previously existed.