Friday, June 1, 2012

What to do with that Physics degree

This blog is another special request this time from @federico_padua and he asked me to talk a little bit about what kinds of jobs people can get with Physics degrees.  Pretty tough topic really but one that I think is really important because in this really tight job market you have to be creative in your search.  The days of “I have X degree, I deserve Y job”  are, with that in mind...what the hell do you do with a Physics degree?

Software Engineering - Lots of good engineers come from the Physics space.  A degree in Physics gives you a grab scientific mind and a ton of experience in mathematics...which is the core of many programming functions.  Additionally, you’ve probably use Fortran or MATLAB to do some basic programming functions...why not take a class or two and learn some Computer Science theory.

Research Jobs - This is probably the most obvious but there are quite a few research jobs out there.  Some of them are at the big labs (think Los Alamos) but also in academia.  You really have to look for these though and spend a ton of time networking to find a role like this...oh, and be prepared to make a lot less money than you were thinking.  If you work in Research you do it for the work, not the cash.

Technical Sales - Yeah, that’s right, sales.  You went through all that schooling and you end up in Sales.  Life sucks eh?  Well guess what?  Some of the best sales folks I know come from technical backgrounds and do VERY well in life.  The trick is to find a role that will allow you to leverage your technical well as your sparkling personality to become some sort of super-salesperson.  Most sales-people are not technical, most technical people can’t sell.....if you can do both, you win!

Obviously there are a bunch of other jobs you can do - teaching?  recruiting?  You name it.  The great thing about a degree like Physics is that it gives you a chance to do very “technical” work but also have some softer skills that come from a Liberal Arts degree.

Would love to hear from anyone out there with a Physics degree about what you do and have done to help anyone else looking for advice.


1 comment:

  1. There are quite a few physicists who have found gainful employment in the quantitative parts of Wall Street firms.

    Depending on the amount of math included in the Physics degree (it can be a lot), places like the NSA are often very interested, too.