What Can You Do With a Physics Degree? [2023 Guide]

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What can you do with a physics degree? If you love science and math, you might be considering physics as a field of study.

What Can You Do With a Physics Degree

Careers in physics include many different focuses and specializations, from science to writing and education.

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During a physics degree program, you can study physical science and mathematics and try to better understand the way the universe works. These skills and critical thinking abilities are strategic preparation for many potential career paths.

What Can You Do with a Physics Degree?

students pursuing Physics Degree

A physics degree program involves advanced problem-solving, mathematical, technical, and research skills, which are transferable to a wide range of careers.

Many physics majors become physicists or work as science educators. Physics also offers a solid foundation for a career in engineering, data, or computer science. If you’re interested in a career as a technical writer, the thorough understanding of scientific and mathematical principles that you could gain with a physics degree is an asset.

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Many of these careers pay above average salaries. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salaries of physicists, computer hardware engineers, and data scientists are above $100,000 a year. Organizations across multiple industries hire physics professionals.

After graduating, you may be well-positioned to seek a job with a government agency, academic institution, research lab, private business, or financial institution. You may also choose to work independently as a consultant or freelancer.

Technical writers, web developers, and data analysts sometimes provide their services to individual clients rather than working for a single company.

5 Things You Can Do with a Degree in Physics

A physics degree is very versatile and may help prepare you for a variety of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. These are some common job options for graduates of physics programs.

1. Physicists

Physicists conducting research in the lab

Physicists explore the nature of matter and energy. Physicists share the results of their work with the scientific community and the public by writing papers, giving presentations, and teaching academic courses.

Most experimental physicists work in labs where they conduct research, analyze data, and develop devices and instruments to test their theories. Theoretical physicists focus on explaining data and formulating new theories and hypotheses. Physicist jobs in the federal government may be available to those with a bachelor.

2. Teachers

Teacher discussing to the class

A physics degree is also a good fit for a career as a science teacher at the secondary level. Middle and high school science teachers educate students on basic scientific principles and teach them how to test hypotheses.

College physics instructors usually require a masters or doctoral degree. They work with older students and teach lecture and lab courses. They also often conduct research and publish their findings in academic journals.

3. Technical writers

Technical writer thinking of an outline for a Physics book

Technical writers create articles, instruction manuals, and other documents. They explain complex subjects in understandable terms, offer support from reputable sources, and communicate with subject matter experts.

In addition to writing content, most technical writers also edit their work for errors. Some create graphics and visual aids like tables, graphs, or illustrations to accompany their work.

4. Software developers

Software developer working on a new program

Physics majors tend to have advanced technological skills that lend themselves to a career as a software developer. Software developers generate concepts for new software and then develop, test, and deploy it.

Software developers are also responsible for maintaining the software they create. They collect feedback and make adjustments and updates to correct errors and improve the user experience.

5. Data scientists

Data scientist working on some visualization

The mathematical elements of physics are well-suited to a job as a data scientist, collecting and analyzing data. Data scientists use algorithms and models to draw conclusions from the data they have gathered, which they then present to relevant stakeholders.

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In the course of their work, data scientists draw insights and make recommendations to their employers. They may also use data visualization software to present their findings in more comprehensible terms.

Physics Careers & Salaries

Physics Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some common careers for professionals with a background in physics.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Physicists $152,430
Aerospace Engineers $122,270
Nuclear Engineers $120,380
Data Scientists $100,910
Computer Systems Analysts $99,270
Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists $94,570
Geoscientists $83,680
Technical Writers $78,060
Web Developers $77,030
High School Teachers $61,820

Many of the professional roles for physics graduates have above average salaries and are projected to experience rapid growth over the next several years.

Is Financial Aid Available?

Financial Aid for Physics Degree

Financial aid is an option for most students pursuing a physics degree from an accredited school. You can apply for federal aid by submitting the FAFSA. This application determines whether you are eligible for federal loans, work-study programs, and grants. Some states also have separate aid programs.

Scholarships are another source of aid for many students. You could search an online database or speak to a financial aid specialist to determine what scholarships might be right for you. If you are currently working in a field related to your degree, you could also ask your employer whether they offer a tuition reimbursement or assistance program.

What Is a Physics Degree?

Physicist working in the lab

A physics degree is focused on the study of matter, nature, and the world. Students in physics programs learn about how matter and energy interact and affect one another, with the aim of understanding the most fundamental aspects of the universe.

When earning a physics degree, you will study communication, writing, and research and take advanced math and science courses. In these classes, you’ll learn about the history of physics, current theories, and methods for experimentation. Physics is an extremely broad field, and students may explore topics like black holes, subatomic particles, quantum mechanics, and relativity.

Is Physics a Hard Degree?

Man taking Physics Degree online, doing some research

The level of difficulty of a physics degree depends on your interests and aptitudes. Physics programs focus heavily on math and science, and the curriculum generally includes courses on topics like:

  • Multivariable calculus
  • Thermodynamics
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Analytical mechanics
  • Astrophysics

These courses usually require extensive reading and mathematical computations, which can be challenging for some students. Many courses in a physics program also have a lab component, in which students conduct experiments and write lengthy reports.

You might consider pursuing a physics degree if you have a passion for science and enjoy learning about new theories and cutting-edge technology.

What Skills Do You Learn in a Physics Major?

Physicists discussing about a simulation software

Students develop many valuable skills over the course of a physics degree program. During your courses, you can learn how to use scientific equipment and modeling and simulation software. You can also hone your mathematical skills, including complex algorithms and formulas.

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Physics students often become adept at research and learn how to efficiently find trustworthy sources with current information. In order to successfully communicate your findings, you can develop your skills in writing and oral communication.

What Do Physics Majors Do?

lab technician taking notes on her laptop

After graduating, many physics majors take entry-level positions with businesses, government agencies, finance companies, and other organizations. They sometimes work as lab technicians, research assistants, and software developers.

There are also related jobs with a physics degree available in engineering, information technology, and education. While physics graduates may pursue careers as physicists, many professionals in this role also earn an advanced degree. Physicists usually focus on experimental, theoretical, or computational physics.

Experimental physicists spend their time planning and conducting experiments to test theories, while theoretical physicists develop new hypotheses. Computational physicists use technology to generate algorithms that are too complex for humans alone.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Physics Degree?

Jobs with a Physics Degree

Earning a physics degree may help you qualify for a variety of positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the median annual salaries for some possible career paths for physics majors:

  • Physicists — $152,430
  • Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists — $94,570
  • Web developers — $77,030
  • High school teachers — $61,820
  • Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians — $57,800

While all of these positions have above-average median salaries, your earnings depend on a range of factors, including where you live, your amount of experience, and your employer.

What Are the Highest Paying Jobs for Physics Majors?

Highest Paying Jobs for Physics Majors

Careers for physics majors often come with competitive salaries, particularly once you have accumulated significant professional experience.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some of the highest median annual salaries for physics degree jobs:

  • Physicists — $152,430
  • Aerospace engineers — $122,270
  • Nuclear engineers — $120,380
  • Data scientists — $100,910
  • Computer systems analysts — $99,270

These median wages are not always available when you initially enter the field. It may be necessary to work for several years or even earn a master’s or doctoral degree to maximize your earning potential.

Is a Physics Degree Worth It?

Clinical Laboratory Technologists working together

Yes, a physics degree is worth it for many students. Physics is a rewarding field that allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the world. Developments in technology are also constantly changing the scope and type of work that physics professionals do.

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Graduates of physics programs have the opportunity to pursue positions that are in increasingly high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several careers related to physics are projected to have much faster than average growth rates over the next ten years. This includes data scientists (36% job growth), web developers (30%), software developers (26%), and physicists (8%).

Getting Your Physics Degree Online

student getting Physics Degree Online

Physics major jobs are diverse, so you may be able to tailor your career to your interests and strengths. After earning a physics degree, you might spend your days conducting experiments, formulating theories, or educating the next generation of scientists.

Studying physics online allows you to develop new skills on a flexible schedule that suits your needs and preferences. Whether you want to attend full-time or take classes while working, completing an online physics degree may be your first step toward a new career.

You could begin your educational journey today by researching online physics programs from accredited colleges and universities.

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Kama has a master's degree in English from Virginia Tech and a bachelor's in English from Concord University. She previously taught college-level English composition, literature, and English as a second language courses. She is now a full-time writer in the education field, with a particular focus on educational technology and pedagogical best practices for English language learners.