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Buchtel College of Arts & Sciences - Careers

Career Options for Physics Majors

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  • Career Options for Physics Majors

The versatility of a major that provides students with solid math skills, strong analytical and problem solving skills, and a good work ethic opens numerous pathways to success and draws many with inquiring minds.

Future physicists will explore and identify basic principles of the structure and behavior of matter, the generation and transfer of energy, and the interaction of matter and energy.

They will do this through the theoretical study of the nature of time and origin of the universe (research) or through applied practice in development of such things as electronic and optical devices and medical equipment (development).


IS PHYSICS THE MAJOR FOR YOU?

Are you interested in how things work? Want to know why the sky is blue, sunsets are red, and ice floats? Want to discover how the same idea can explain not just one, but numerous problems? Interested in specifics rather than generalities?

Are you intrigued by lasers, superconductors, black holes, quantum mechanics, the big bang theory, relativity, the world around you and your place in it? Well, Physics just may be for you!

Those with bachelor's degrees in physics are rarely qualified to fill positions in research or in teaching at the college level. They are, however, usually qualified to work as technicians or research assistants in engineering-related areas, in software development and other scientific fields, or in setting up computer networks and sophisticated laboratory equipment.

Some may qualify for applied research jobs in private industry or nonresearch positions in the Federal Government. Some become science teachers in secondary schools.

Astronomy bachelor's or master's degree holders often enter a field unrelated to astronomy, and they are qualified to work in planetariums running science shows, to assist astronomers doing research, and to operate space-based and ground-based telescopes and other astronomical instrumentation.

[BLS, OOH 2010-11.]


SOME SUB-FIELDS:

  • Elementary particle physics
  • Nuclear physics
  • Atomic & Molecular physics
  • Space physics
  • Optics
  • Acoustics
  • Physics of condensed matter (solid-state physics)
  • Super conductivity
  • Crystallography
  • Semiconductors
  • Plasma physics
  • Physics of fluids

 

COMBINED FIELDS:

  • Biophysics
  • Engineering
  • Law/ Patent Law
  • Chemical Physics
  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Geophysics
  • Finance
  • Medicine

UA currently encourages a concentration in polymer science, and in the future plans to extend concentration choices to such fields as mathematics, computer science, and even business administration.



EMPLOYMENT AREAS:

(where universities, large research/development laboratories, or observatories exist)

NON-FACULTY & FACULTY

  • Colleges and universities

NON-FACULTY

  • Commercial or noncommercial research, development, testing laboratories (20%)
  • Federal Government (20%) in:
  • Department of Defense
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Energy
  • State governments
  • Drug companies
  • Electronic equipment manufacturers



DOING THINGS LIKE . . .

WITH A BACHELOR'S DEGREE:

  • Lab Technician - Gov’t. / Industry
  • Technical positions such as:
  • Radiation monitoring
  • Electrical power plant operator
  • Scientific instrument operator
  • Technical instrument salesperson
  • Meteorology
  • Computer programming / development
  • Electronics development
  • Develop industrial patents
  • Environmental science
  • Architecture

WITH A MASTER'S DEGREE OR ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION/TRAINING:

  • Master’s Degree in Engineering
  • Electrical
  • Electronic
  • Mechanical
  • Aerospace
  • Supervisor of technicians
  • Tech equipment purchasing consultant
  • Instrument field rep / trouble shooter
  • Teaching: Elementary/Secondary/Community College

WITH A Ph.D.:

  • Advanced research:industry/ gov't
  • Head of research laboratory
  • Hiring / supervising of many
  • Project planner
  • Authorize purchases
  • Developer new industrial products
  • Designer new scientific instruments
  • Scientific consultant industry/ gov't
  • University teaching



OCCUPATIONS FOR ALL PHYSICS MAJORS

  • Director of radiology lab
  • Research administrator, national lab
  • Mathematics / physics teacher
  • Investment banker
  • Designer optical medical devices
  • Nuclear power plant project manager
  • Oil industry high-tech designer
  • Dir. non-profit environmental company
  • Analyst satellite data ozone concentration
  • Technical consultant to government
  • Science writer
  • Writer of computer books
  • Director nuclear magnetic resonance lab
  • Analyst, satellite missions to outer space



OHIO EMPLOYMENT POSSIBILITIES

  • Accenture
  • Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.
  • Cincinnati Test Systems
  • Cleveland Crystals, INc.
  • Department of Defense
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • First Energy
  • Iotgech, Inc.
  • MB Dynamics, Inc.
  • Nationwide Insturance
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • USA Instruments, Inc.



EARNINGS:

Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-11: annual MEDIAN salary for physicists = $102.8k; for astronomy/space scientists = $101.3K.

National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)2009 survey:
Average annual salary for physics bachelor's degree, $53.9K;
for master's degree, $98.4; and for doctoral degree candidates, $74.3K.


WEB SITES OF INTEREST

The University of Akron

Akron, OH 44325
Phone: 330-972-7111
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