A physics degree is a great starting point for a career in scientific research, as well as in a range of careers in the business, finance, IT and engineering sectors
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Geophysicist/field seismologist
- Higher education lecturer
- Radiation protection practitioner
- Research scientist (physical sciences)
- Secondary school teacher
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Investment analyst
- Nuclear engineer
- Operational researcher
- Patent attorney
- PPC specialist
- Software engineer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Being able to provide relevant examples of work experience will greatly enhance your chances of success. Make use of any opportunities to gain this, such as an industry placement as part of your degree, if this is offered, or getting involved with specialist groups of relevant professional institutions, such as the Institute of Physics.
Finding a part-time job in a laboratory as a laboratory technician or assistant, for example, may be useful if you want a career in science. Vacation work or summer internships which develop teamwork, leadership and communication skills will also be helpful.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Employers of physics graduates include academic institutions, government research organisations and industry.
Industries employing physicists are varied and include:
- aerospace and defence
- oil and gas
- science and telecommunications.
Physics graduates not directly using their physics degree can pursue careers in a range of sectors such as IT and consultancy, the environmental industry, financial services, legal sector, transport and utilities.
Skills for your CV
Studying physics can help you to develop a range of skills that can be applied in many areas, both scientific and non-technical. These skills include:
- problem solving - with a pragmatic and analytical approach
- reasoning - constructing logical arguments, applying analytical skills and grasping complex problems
- numeracy - skills in using mathematics to find solutions to scientific problems, mathematical modelling and interpreting and presenting information graphically
- practical skills - planning, executing and reporting experiments, using technical equipment and paying attention to detail
- communication - conveying complex ideas and using technical language correctly
- information and communication technology (ICT) - including specialist software packages and some programming.
Some of the most popular physics-related courses at postgraduate level include:
- quantum physics
- particle physics
- mathematical physics
You may also wish to consider taking a course in marketing, finance, business, law, IT and journalism, depending on your particular career interests.
Some physics graduates complete a teaching qualification, while others begin a PhD to start a career in research science.
What do physics graduates do?
One in ten graduates in employment in the UK are working as programmers and software development professionals. Half of more than a third of graduates who went on to further study continue their studies in physics.
|Working and studying||5.1|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Business, HR and financial||19.2|
|Retail, catering and bar work||10.6|
|Technicians and other professionals||8.5|
For a detailed breakdown of what physics graduates are doing six months after graduation, see What Do Graduates Do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.