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

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

Work experience

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.

Typical employers

Employers of physics graduates include academic institutions, government research organisations and industry.

Industries employing physicists are varied and include:

  • aerospace and defence
  • education
  • energy
  • engineering
  • instrumentation
  • manufacturing
  • 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.

Find information on employers in engineering and manufacturing, information technology, science and pharmaceuticals, and other job sectors.

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.

Further study

Some of the most popular physics-related courses at postgraduate level include:

  • astrophysics
  • quantum physics
  • particle physics
  • mathematical physics
  • thermodynamics
  • nanotechnology.

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.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses.

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.

DestinationPercentage
Employed45.7
Further study34.5
Working and studying5.1
Unemployed9.9
Other4.8
Graduate destinations for physics
Type of workPercentage
Information technology20.5
Business, HR and financial19.2
Retail, catering and bar work10.6
Technicians and other professionals8.5
Other41.2
Types of work entered in the UK

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.