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:
- Academic researcher
- Acoustic consultant
- Clinical scientist, medical physics
- Higher education lecturer
- Radiation protection practitioner
- Research scientist (physical sciences)
- Secondary school teacher
- Sound engineer
- Technical author
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Applications developer
- Clinical technologist
- Data analyst
- Nuclear engineer
- Operational researcher
- Patent attorney
- Software engineer
- Telecommunications researcher
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Make the most of any opportunities to gain relevant work experience, such as a placement or year out in industry as part of your degree. Use this time to gain practical skills to complement your academic studies and to build a network of contacts.
Get involved with specialist groups and relevant professional bodies, such as the Institute of Physics.
If you want a career in science, look for part-time or vacation work in a laboratory as a laboratory technician or assistant. Vacation work or summer internships that develop teamwork, leadership and communication skills are also helpful.
Whichever career you're interested in, getting relevant experience will help boost you chances of getting a job. For example, if you want to be a teacher, try to get experience in the classroom observing and working with students.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Employers of physics graduates include academic institutions, schools and colleges, government research organisations, the armed forces and industry.
Industries employing physicists are varied and include:
- aerospace and defence
- energy and renewable energy
- health and medicine
- meteorology and climate change
- oil and gas
- science and telecommunications.
Physics graduates also move into careers outside of science. Popular options include banking and finance, as well as the software, computing and consultancy industries. Other areas include accountancy, law and transport.
Skills for your CV
Studying physics develops your understanding of core physics and gives you a range of subject-specific skills in areas such as astronomy, computational and experimental physics, condensed matter, dynamics, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics.
You also develop transferable skills valued by a range of both technical and non-technical employers. These include:
- problem-solving skills and a pragmatic and analytical approach
- reasoning skills and the capacity to construct logical arguments and grasp complex problems
- research and data analysis
- numeracy skills, helpful for finding solutions to scientific problems, mathematical modelling and interpreting and presenting graphs
- practical skills, such as using technical equipment
- the ability to communicate complex ideas and use technical language correctly, discussing ideas and taking on other viewpoints
- teamworking and project management skills
- effective time management and organisational skills
- competence at using specialist software packages and some programming.
Some physics graduates go on to further study at postgraduate level in order to enhance their knowledge of a particular area of physics. Relevant subjects include:
- quantum physics
- particle physics
- mathematical physics
Another option is to complete a teaching qualification, for example a PGCE (PGDE in Scotland), to pursue a career as a physics teacher. A PhD may be the appropriate route if you wish to work in scientific research.
There are also opportunities to take courses in marketing, finance, business, law, IT and journalism, depending on your career interests.
What do physics graduates do?
The most popular job for those employed in the UK is IT professional with 22% reporting this as their most important activity. The top ten jobs also include business, research and administrative professionals, teaching professionals, natural and social science professionals, finance professionals, engineering professionals, business associate professionals and IT technicians.
|Working and studying||9.2|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Business, HR and finance||23.8|
For a detailed breakdown of what physics graduates are doing after graduation, see What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.