Careers for Physics Majors
A degree in physics can lead to employment in design and development work in private industry or in large, government laboratories. With their broad education in fundamental physical concepts, physicists often work closely with engineers who have more specific design-oriented training. Those who complete a Ph.D. degree in physics may be involved in the basic research of unanswered questions in science, or may contribute to the development of new, advanced technologies.
Physics graduates from PLU often pursue employment directly after graduation. Past graduates have found successful careers with Northwest companies such as Boeing, Boise-Cascade, Hewlett-Packard, INTEL, Microsoft, Weyerhaeuser, Tektronix, Westinghouse-Hanford, Immunex, STI Optronics, Lockheed-Martin, and Seattle Milliman Healthcare Actuarial Consulting.
Physics Jobs and Job Titles
You can find physics majors in ALL kinds of professions—science writing, medicine, law, history of science, acting, music, healthcare, and on and on. And usually, they don’t have “physics” in their job title!
Some common job titles for physics majors include:
- Accelerator Operator
- Applications Engineer
- Data Analyst
- Design Engineer
- High School Physics Teacher
- IT Consultant
- Lab Technician
- Laser Engineer
- Optical Engineer
- Software Developer
- Systems Analyst
- Technical Specialist
- Web Developer
See Tool #1: Common Job Titles at the Society of Physics Students Career Toolbox for more ideas and inspiration for physics job titles.
Interested in a Physics Career?
Physics students interested in exploring careers in physics are strongly encouraged to use the Careers Toolbox resources and activities put out by the Society of Physics Students (SPS).
Also, check out these additional resources:
- PLU Career Services: Career Advising, Resume and Cover Letter Examples and Review, workshops, and more! You can also schedule an appointment with a career advisor as well.
- Institute of Physics: Careers With Physics
- Physics Today: Jobs Resources: Including
Online Job Searching
Online databases are great places to find job openings. Note that many jobs appropriate for physics graduates will not show up in a “physics” keyword search, so use a list of common job titles, such as those listed above. Here are some great STEM job databases (from Society of Physics Students website):
- USAJobs The US federal government’s official job list, includes jobs at NASA, NIST, and other federal labs.
- Science Careers A database of job postings from around the world for scientists of all disciplines and experience levels.
- Engineer Jobs An extensive database of engineering job opportunities of all types within the United States and Canada.
- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) job site A database for engineering positions with a related portal for students looking for entry-level jobs.
- Glass Door Glass Door aggregates jobs from the web, but also allows job seekers to see reviews from current and former employees as well as salary data. These insights can be helpful as you investigate workplace culture.
- LinkedIn In addition to being a hub for networking, LinkedIn also allows employers to post jobs. This particular portal will guide you toward positions oriented to students.
- Indeed Indeed is a large single-topic search engine that aggregates job listings from thousands of websites.
- Idealist Idealist is an online meeting place for nonprofit organizations, resources, consultants and volunteers. Many opportunities for STEM outreach and education positions are posted here.