Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences. Physicists study a broad range of phenomena from large clusters of galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles. Physicist work on improving both our detailed understanding of nature's most fundamental laws, and on using basic principles to explaining the remarkable complexity observed in natural phenomena. The practice of physics is equally broad. Some physicists focus on deep, abstract principles concerning the most basic laws of nature, while others apply physics to make practical innovations in technology. Physics provides the basis of many sciences including chemistry, engineering, material science, oceanography, seismology, and astronomy. Many professionals in these fields began with a bachelor's degree in physics. Many of the innovations and discoveries that have changed our lives, like computers and lasers have were made possible by the work of physicists. Physics continues to have a tremendous impact on new technologies and other innovations.
- The American Physical Society (APS), lists many good reasons why you should study physics at this link.
Physics & Physics Careers
Of students who obtain a bachelors degree in physics, roughly half of go directly into employment after obtaining their bachelors degree. The other half go on to graduate school in physics, astronomy, engineering, medicine, law, education or other professions. Most jobs in basic research and development usually require a doctoral degree. Bachelors degree holders working for these employers often qualify as technicians or research assistants. There is a wealth of information about physics and physics careers on the web. Some particularly useful links can be found below.
- Physics Careers (APS)
- AIP Statistics on Physics Employment Trends
- Career Network (AIP)
- Occupational Outlook Handbook (U.S. Dept. of Labor)
- Physicists and Astronomers
Other Professional Careers for Physics Students
Physicists are among the worlds best problem solvers and critical thinkers, skills that are essential for success in many fields. A physics education will prepare you for great jobs in a wide variety of careers.
Majoring or minoring in physics provides an excellent preparation for a career in law. This is particularly true for pre-law students interested in patent law. For example, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), is required for admission to many law schools. Physics and Math majors rank #1 in average LSAT Scores.
Source: The Journal of Economic Education (JSTOR).
Patent Agents, Patent Attorneys, and Patent Examiners
Both patent agent's and patent attorney's have a license to represent clients before the Patent Office. Patent attorneys are also admitted to the practice of law. Students wishing to become patent agents should obtain a Bachelor's degree in a technology field which is recognized by the USTOP. For more information, consult the links below.
- Patent Agents and Attorney's (Wikipedia)
- How to Become a Patent Agent (About.com)
- Patent Jobs
- More Patent Jobs
Medicine and Health Sciences
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), is a standardized examination for medical school admissions in the United States. Physics majors also excel in MCAT scores, finishing second behind Biomedical engineering. Details can be found in this AIP report. More information on physicists in medicine and on medican physics can be found below.
- Medical Physics Online (AIP)
- American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM)
- International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP)
- Medican Physics Web (IOP)
- Medical Physics (Wikipedia)
Standardized test for admission to optometry schools is the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT). For more information on a career in optometry you may consult.
Quantitative Finance and Actuarial Science
Many physicists have gone on to work in finance or actuarial science. Browse the information links and job listings below.
- Finance for Physicists from UIUC
- Physicists Graduate from Wall Street (AIP)
- Physics and a Career on Wall Street
- Mutual attractions: physics and finance
- Physics & Finance (Princeton)
- Global Actuarial Recruitment
- Quantitative Finance Jobs
Masters of Business Administration (MBA)
The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is required for students applying to many MBA programs. According to the Profile of Graduate Admissions Test Candidates (2000-2005), published by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, of all majors, physicists top the list on GMAT scores. Below are some related links.
Other Graduate Study
The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a standardized test used for admissions to many graduate programs. Many graduate schools require the GRE as part of the admissions process The general GRE exam includes include sections on quantitative and verbal reasoning. Intended Physics graduate majors rank #1 in the Quantitative Reasoning portion of the GRE a they excel in other parts of the GRE as well.