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 an industry 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 which 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. Work experience also helps you to decide whether you'd enjoy doing the job.
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 areas 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 wide range of both technical and non-technical employers. These skills include:
- problem solving - with a pragmatic and analytical approach
- reasoning - constructing logical arguments and grasping complex problems
- research and data analysis - undertaking research and applying analytical skills
- 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, discussing ideas and taking on other viewpoints
- teamworking - working together on group-based project work
- time management and organisation - meeting project and research deadlines
- information technology (IT) - including 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
Some physics graduates complete a teaching qualification, for example a PGCE (PGDE in Scotland), to move into a career in teaching, while others begin a PhD to start a career in research science.
There are also opportunities to take courses in areas such as marketing, finance, business, law, IT and journalism, depending on your career interests.
What do physics graduates do?
The most popular job for physics graduates employed in the UK six months after graduation is programmer and software development professional.
Almost a third of physics graduates who went on to further study continued their studies in physics.
|Working and studying||3.8|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Business, HR and financial||21.1|
|Retail, catering and bar work||9.3|
|Engineering and building||8|
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.