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What jobs can you get into by studying Physics?

Physics has always been a very nebulous subject, with potential areas of study ranging from the nanoscale all the way up to structures bigger than our solar system. This diverse range of topics makes it one of the most interesting areas to study but where can this take you after you finish your degree. What paths does physics open up and how can you follow them.

I know when I started studying I was often asked what I planned to do with my degree so hopefully this article can help you with some easy answers to that questions. 

1. Academic Researcher

One of the most common paths for physics graduates. 

The academic life is certainly an interesting one, always researching new and ever changing parts of the physical world and pushing boundaries for how as humans we view the world around us. This area is always fascinating to go into and can be a really rewarding experience for those who follow this path. 

While not always the easiest path to follow, you need to get a lot more education before you can even start on this path, when you do get going the world is your oyster. Many areas of research open up to you and many countries to with universities all over the world speaking the same scientific language it is not uncommon for academics to do stints in countries all over the world. 

The world of physics research is fascinating and varied and is definitely a worthwhile path to follow!  

Image of a spernova

2. Engineer

A black and white image of gears turning - you will explore engineering at Oxford and Cambridge

Behind every great product is at least one engineer 

While it may not be immediately obvious how supernovae link to suspension bridges the answer is there if you look close enough. Everything in our universe is governed by the same basic forces and the same laws of nature. If you can learn to apply what you have learnt while studying physics you can apply those same laws to almost any problem

Engineers are the people who truly build the world, from designing and building bridges, houses and offices blocks; all the way working on all the internal components of the worlds fastest computers. Engineers design and build everything. One can specialise in so many different fields that there can never really be a dull day. 

Engineers are notorious problem solvers, a skill that any physicist should have in spades. So if you want to work on something real you can always try engineering. 

3. Digital

I know I know, the concept of digital is vague and ill defined at best. Who is to say what this really means, certainly not me and I work in it. The key thing to know about these jobs is that they are everywhere. As career dangerously further and further through the 21st century more and more jobs are reliant on digital teams creating tools and building systems to allow everyone else to do their jobs faster and more efficiently. 

With tech companies making up an ever increasing percentage of the largest businesses world wide, phones and computers being more ubiquitous than ever and even non tech business realising they have to lean that way to stay afloat. It is no surprise that tech jobs are as common as they are. 

Don't confuse this either, it's not just programming jobs physicists are suited for it's all jobs in the digital space. User research and business analyst and in many cases project management. The problem solving skills you develop make you incredibly well suited to this fast paced tricky world. 

A circuit board

4. Data Analyst

Green data cascading down the screen, matrix style

I have lost count of the number of physicists on my linked in that have gone on to work in data analytics in some capacity (I counted and it's 19). These jobs are perfectly suited to scientists who have to perform fairly complex data analytics to verify the data they have just collected is statistically significant. You already have most of the skills at your finger tips before you even start the job. 

The other amazing thing about this job is that there really is no limit on the industries you can join. If a companies has data then they need data analysts. Any company of certain size will employ a small army of data scientists to break down the data they have into usable insights that they can then try to turn into profits. If you can think of an industry you can work as a data scientist in it. 

 

5. Teaching

Many many physicists never lose the love of physics but decide that the research life isn't quite the life for them. Many of them then decide to try and pass this love onto the next generation. To inspire as many people as they possibly can to engage and learn more about their favorite subject. 

That is when you become a teacher. 

With the country as a whole severely understaffed when it comes to STEM teachers there has never been an easier time to become a science teacher. With STEM teachers often being paid more than their counterparts you can always find a job and be well paid for it. 

So really don't be afraid to give teaching or tutoring a try, you never know how many lives you can change. 

A teacher describing pendulum motion to some students

Physics is one of, if not the most degree topic available to many students. In this I haven't even touched on the worlds of accountancy or banking, two of the biggest employers of physics graduates. The problem solving skills you will develop can set you up for life in almost an industry around. 

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