Career Opportunities with a Physics Degree

The career opportunities for graduates with a Physics degree are as diverse as the degree itself.

Of course the most popular options for Physics graduates is to move on to further study with the aim of taking up a research-based role. However, this is in no way the only option open to you.

In fact, there are many high transferrable and valuable skills that you’ll have as a Physics graduate that will make you desirable to employers in a range of industries. This also means that your starting salary could be higher than the average graduate starting salary.

Alternative industries include business, finance, media, and scientific journalism. Even the more obvious industries, such as aerospace, automotive, and healthcare can lead to incredibly interesting and lucrative careers.

Here’s more about the career opportunities with a Physics degree.

What skills will I gain during my Physics degree?

Of course you’ll gain many industry related skills, such as lab-based skills, whilst studying for your degree.

However, you’ll also gain many skills that will be prized by employers from any industry. These skills include:

  • Strong numeracy abilities
  • Problem solving abilities
  • Data analysis skills
  • The ability to communicate complex ideas (both written and orally)
  • Interpersonal skills
  • The ability to work as part of a team on projects

Some Physics degrees give students a year in industry to further develop their work related skills. Often these placements lead to job offers so it’s worth looking for courses with this option.

If your chosen university doesn’t offer work placements as part of the course there’s no reason why you can’t find work experience yourself. For example, part-time work in a laboratory or a work experience placement during the summer holidays.

Any relevant industry experience will make you a more desirable candidate when you’re applying for jobs after graduation.

Jobs directly related to your Physics degree

As we’ve said, you could move into almost any industry after completing your Physics degree. Here are some of the more common career options for Physics graduates:

Research Scientist

If this is your chosen career path then you’re probably going to need further study after your undergraduate degree.

Although it is possible to start your scientific research career as a trainee or research technician, if you’re going to be pursuing this long term then further study to Master’s or PhD level will be needed to progress to more senior roles.

Aerospace Engineer

If you’ve always had an interest in planes or spacecraft then this could be the ideal role for you.

As an aerospace engineer you’ll be involved in the design, develop, service, and testing of aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and in some cases weapons systems. Your daily role will involve a lot of research and analysis. You’ll need to be comfortable with data and statistics and increasingly your role will involve reducing the environmental impact of the craft you design.

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers specialize in the development and construction of parts and machinery used in industries such as manufacturing, transport, construction, water, power and health. 

On a daily basis you could be involved in multiple projects carrying out research, surveys, and assessments. Depending on your exact job you may also be designing, constructing, and maintaining components and machinery.

Medical Physicist

As a Medical Physicist you’ll apply your technical knowledge of physics to the practice of medicine in order to help with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of various diseases, illnesses and health conditions. 

This is will be done through the development, testing, and evaluation of medical procedures and specialist medical equipment. You’ll often be employed by the public or private health service, medical equipment manufacturers, or research organisations and universities.

Jobs not directly related to your Physics degree

There are also a number of jobs where your degree will be useful but obviously directly related to your degree.

For example, many graduates build successful careers in the following roles:

  • Meteorologist
  • Investment analyst
  • Operational researcher
  • Patent lawyer
  • Systems developer
  • Forensics

With the strong mathematical skills you’ll have as a result of your Physics degree you may also find your dream career in the business or financial sectors.

Other less common options for Physics graduates include scientific journalism, computer game programming, and film special effects. You could find yourself working in a number of sectors including teaching, manufacturing, transports, communications, and architecture.