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What Can You do With a Graduate Degree in Physics?


Job Titles | Places of Employment | Related Links

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Job Titles: top

Click here to find out more about the job titles below (Occupational Outlook Handbook)

  • What do physics masters do?

Physics masters work primarily in science, engineering, and education, although their occupations differ sharply by employment setting. Physics masters are, in general, more likely than bachelors to be hired into positions with supervisory responsibility and frequently use advanced knowledge and technical skills to solve complex problems.

  • What do PhDs do?

There are about 35,000 physics PhDs in the workforce. Nearly half of physics PhDs work in academia. Slightly less work in the private sector in corporate labs conducting long-term research. About one-quarter of physics PhDs work in Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, government laboratories, or federal agencies with a scientific mission. Most of these physicists are engaged in long-term research, but a variety of other activities including management and policy formation is also common.

  • Job descriptions are difficult to quantify in this field. The physicist might work in a laboratory, designing materials for computer chips or smashing atomic particles. Physicists have orbited the Earth and explored the oceans. Physics majors build instruments that diagnose disease; they develop better and more efficient fuels for cars and homes; they calculate the movement of Arctic glaciers, and they create smaller, faster electronic components for computers.
  • Some physicists in research and development, especially those employed at universities, help increase our overall scientific knowledge. More often, they conduct research for government agencies or for private sector companies to develop new devices for the marketplace. They also design equipment or find new uses for older technology.
  • Medical physicists have greatly enhanced the well being of patients through the application of physics. Such advances as computer tomography, laser treatments for cancer, and the X-ray have improved health care over the years and led to more effective diagnosis and treatment of medical ailments.
  • Teaching college or university level physics, higher-level positions in basic and applied research in private industry or in government labs, biomedical research.
  • There are even careers in the financial industry that require modeling skills that are a natural part of graduate study in physics.
  • Research specialist

Places of Employment:  top

  • Nearly 90 percent of all "physicists" are working in medicine, education, industry, or other professions
  • Government labs
  • Colleges/Universities
  • Engineering Firms
  • Museums
  • Private Industry
    (IBM, Allied, etc.)
  • US Dept of Agriculture
  • Public Schools
  • Finance
  • US Dept of Commerce
  • National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • School Boards
  • US Dept of Defense
  • Research & Development Firms
  • State & Local Governments
  • National Aeronautics & Space Administration

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