Careers in Physics

A message from the Head of Physics on why a Physics degree is a good career choice

Well, graduates with physics degrees earn more right out of college than any other science major. Also, physics has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, unemployment rate of any major. If you go to and search physics, you will discover that the average starting salary is about $58,000, which is about $6000 less than the average graduate with a mechanical engineering degree earns. However, the growth with years of working with a physics degree is $1000 higher than for a mechanical engineer. Why is this? We don’t know why, but we suspect that it has something to do with a breadth of knowledge physics majors have. This is not to say that a degree in mechanical engineering isn’t a great choice, too.


I graduated with a BA in Physics and within a month had a job as a quality engineer for a company that fabricated microchips. I subsequently worked as a mechanical/project engineer prior to going on to earn my PhD in Physics. Why did they hire me, a physics major? Well, in one case, the product the company produced had pretty stringent requirements for optical transparency. As a physics major, it was trivial for me to understand the quality control measurements they performed to ensure the optical transparency of their product.  They figured that having a team of traditionally trained mechanical engineers and some physics majors would be more suited to produce better products than their competitors and develop new products. Many physics majors work on the product development sides of companies.


My experience upon graduating with a physics degree is just one of many. Below is information and links to help you research career and educational opportunities with a degree in physics.



What to do with a degree in Physics

The College of Arts & Sciences Office of Career Services has in conjunction with Physics prepared information for students interested in a career in Physics. See What to do with a degree in Physics [PDF] and the Job and Internship Websites Update.



American Institute of Physics Employment Data

AIP tracks employment data for people working in Physics and related fields. Up-to-date reports based on this data are available from AIP at Latest Employment Data for Physicists, Astronomers and Related Scientists.


Select AIP Reports



American Institute of Physics Career Resources

AIP Career Resources provides a variety of information including career advice, webinars, employment data, job listings, and more.



Society of Physics Students Careers Toolbox for Undergraduate Physics Students

SPS Careers Toolbox provides Physics career information of interest to undergraduate Physics majors.



A&S Career Services

Staff in the College of Arts & Sciences Student Success Center are available to assist students. They are located in 213 Life Sciences East.