Getting a Job
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What jobs can I get?
Well, you need to market yourself to any technically oriented situation. Do not be intimidated by job descriptions which seem to exclude you. Many positions described as engineering positions are very friendly to physicists.
Check out the national statistics on Who's Hiring Physics Bachelors? courtesy of the American Institute of Physics. Physics.org has a nice career browsing experience. Also, here is a comprehensive source of career ideas.
There are many opportunities for students who don't go on to do graduate work. You can capitalize on the public perception that people with physics degrees are fairly bright. Things to do with a bachelors degree include many engineering positions, technical sales, technical field representative, education, technical writing, medical equipment maintenance, repair or operation, computer programming, and technical support positions. We are pleased to help our students sell themselves in the job market. We can help you prepare resumes, write letters of recommendation, and inform you about the scientific aspects of a job you are interested in, which can be a big help when interviewing.
What Some Recent Graduates Say...
"...I got a very awesome perfomance evaluation at work (toot! toot!), mostly due to the fact that I've learned the true meaning of hard work and diligence at this job and also because my physics background has come in very handy to make me a stand-out in the realm of lab instrument troubleshooting. "
Another former student says..." I am making almost triple what I was before... some of the people teaching the orientation classes ask me for help and explanations, and these people have worked there for years. Needless to say I am the only physicist. Most everyone is a chemical, electrical or mechanical engineer".
From another graduate. . . "Yes, I love my job. We went to a robotics convention. . . I saw some pretty amazing automation stuff for the biotech world. I have learned a lot. I am doing my own thing here. . . I like being the only math and physics person in a sea of biologists and chemists."
Another student who has had several job interviews, and been offered each job says..."They hired me after interviewing several people with more experience...and making less money than me, but they wanted me because of my attitude!! ... Just like you said, people are impressed that an idiot like me has a physics degree, and don't give a rat's ass it's not in computer science."
If you love Astronomy but don't want to go on to graduate school, there are still exciting jobs out there. NASA and various other government-supported organizations often have support positions available to people with bachelor's degrees in physics or astronomy. You might be responsible for telescope operations or technical support at national (or semi-private) observatories, or take part in data acquisition, scheduling, archiving, and other technical support work for the larger NASA satellite-based astronomy programs, such as Hubble Space Telescope, AXAF and the Gamma Ray Observatory. Our faculty members will be happy to discuss options and give helpful feedback to enable you to submit targeted resumes and cover letters in the areas of your particular strengths and interests.
If you want to Teach
Our department has a long history of vigorous involvement with pre-college education. We want to spread the word about the opportunities we offer to future teachers who want to improve their knowledge and delivery of science. The job opportunities for teachers with strong science and math training are very good. To get a physics certification for secondary education you will need to complete the requirements for our BA in Physics program in addition to meeting the requirements of the School of Education. Most private schools do not require a teaching certificate, and in many cases public schools can hire technically-oriented teachers and postpone the need for a teaching certificate. Ordinarily you will be required to pursue a program leading to certification over the first couple of years of your employment in public schools. Several of our graduates in recent years have gone into very satisfying careers in public and private education.