A Bachelor of Science in physics gives you advanced knowledge of how the universe works, from particles to planets, and it gives you a skill set that includes advanced mathematics, analysis and problem-solving. What a B.S. in physics doesn't necessarily give you is a clear career path. You won't find many job postings looking specifically for physicists, and those that are will likely expect a Ph.D., but you will find postings -- in fields like engineering, computer science, education and finance -- looking for a physicist's skill set.
According to a 2010 American Institute of Physics report, the most common careers for those with physics bachelor's degrees are in engineering. Engineering companies -- predominantly in the energy, aerospace and military fields -- hire physics graduates for their broad scientific understanding and problem-solving skills, which separate them from typical engineers with a more focused skill set. Physics majors' wide-ranging knowledge makes them versatile and valuable in positions that involve quality control and project management.
Another common field for those with a physics B.S. is computer science. Some software requires specific knowledge of physics to create, which, according to "Physics Today," makes those with a physics bachelor's especially qualified. This is particularly true in the video game industry, where about 20 percent of developers have degrees in physics, mathematics or other sciences. Developers need physicists to make sure characters, vehicles, athletic equipment and explosives behave in the games' virtual worlds as they would in the real world.
Over 10 percent of physics majors go on to teach high school, usually teaching biology, chemistry and mathematics in addition to physics. As a teacher, you can communicate your enthusiasm for physics to your students. The AIP report on physics bachelor's degree-holders ranks those who teach high school as among the most satisfied with their jobs, citing especially satisfactory levels of responsibility and job security.
Not all physics majors go into scientific careers. The AIP report found that about 29 percent of those with a B.S. in physics who go into the private sector work in nonscientific fields, many of them in finance. Financial companies hire employees with physics bachelor's degrees for their analytical skills and put them to work developing mathematical models for analysis and doing quantitative research. These careers have some of the highest starting salaries available to physics graduates, at over $50,000 per year.
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