Ask pretty much anyone and they’ll tell you that getting a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field is a smart move. In fact, we’re willing to bet that the whole time you were in undergrad, not one aunt, uncle, or grandparent said, “A physics major? What are you going to do with that?”
And yet, here you are at the end of your physics degree, asking yourself, “What am I going to do with this thing?” Not to worry. There are lots of opportunities for physics grads.
As with any recent college grad, you might find yourself in a job that’s only tangentially related to your major, or you might find yourself working in the thick of the physics field. Don’t limit yourself as you begin to look around. The skills you gained as a physics student are applicable to a lot of jobs.
Here are some of the best entry-level jobs for physics majors. Take a look at the skills and salary for each, and think about which would be the best match for your personality and desired lifestyle.
10 Entry-Level Jobs for Physics Majors
Below, you’ll find roles in fields as diverse as academia, computer science, healthcare, research and development, and private industry. All of the roles we discuss are available as full-time entry-level positions. We’ve listed them alongside the daily requirements of the role, the skills you’ll need to succeed, and the salary you can expect. We should note, however, that salaries are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) median salary for that job title — starting salaries are usually lower.
1. Computer and Information Research Scientist
Median salary: $122,840
Use the research and problem solving skills you gained in school to invent new information technology or find innovative ways to use existing technology. Many entry-level positions in computer and information research require a master’s degree but some will accept a bachelor’s degree. If you’re looking to follow a career path in technology, this is a growing and high-paying field.
2. High School Physics Teacher
Median salary: $61,660
If you love to share your knowledge, enjoy public speaking, and want a job where you can make a difference, working as a high school teacher could be perfect for you. Teaching is one of the top 5 jobs for recent grads in any field. This job is also social and doesn’t require you to spend your day behind a desk.
3. Mechanical Engineer
Median salary: $88,430
As a mechanical engineer, you’ll work on developing high-powered machines like generators, engines, turbines, refrigeration units, ACs, and more. While you may spend some of your time on-site at job locations, you’ll do most of your work from an office. You’ll need strong problem solving skills to succeed in this role.
4. Business Analyst
Median salary: $85,260
If you love turning data into actionable insights, a career as a business analyst is right for you. People in this role look at all the numbers related to a business (cost of labor and materials, time needed to perform different tasks, company profits, etc.) to determine how efficient a company is and make suggestions for improvement.
5. Associate Professor
Median salary: $79,540
Most roles in academia allow you to split your time between research and teaching, which can be the perfect balance for many people. You’ll use your communication skills to teach and your problem-solving skills to design and lead research projects. This role typically requires a Ph.D., so physics graduates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree will need to pursue additional schooling before they’re qualified.
6. Computer Programmer
Median salary: $86,550
Computer science students aren’t the only ones who qualify for computer programming jobs. Students with a physics bachelor’s also have a lot of opportunities in this field. As a computer programmer, you’ll work from an office or from your own home to write code and design software programs and apps.
7. Public Health Inspector
Median salary: $70,480
In this role, you’ll visit a variety of different businesses to make sure their business practices aren’t harming the health of the general public. You may inspect factories to ensure they’re not producing toxic waste, you may go to healthcare clinics to check if they’re sanitary and clean, or you may visit a salon to ensure they’re disinfecting properly. This role allows you to give back to your community and provide a vital service for society.
8. Forensic Science Technician
Median salary: $59,150
If you want to solve crimes with science, a career in forensics will allow you to unlock many mysteries. In this role, you’ll work with criminal investigators, like the police or FBI, to collect and analyze evidence. You’ll spend your time working in the lab and visiting crime scenes.
9. Science Writer
Median salary: $63,200
As a science writer, you’ll be able to use your creative and technical skills side-by-side. Science writers can work for newspapers or magazines, explaining complex scientific concepts to the general public, or they can work for professional publications, writing for other scientists.
Median salary: $122,220
Perhaps the most obvious job for a physics major, working as a physicist allows you to continue to pursue the topics that interested you in undergrad or graduate school. In this role, you’ll research how matter and energy interact. Physicists often work in offices, labs, or observatories. Many roles require a Ph.D., but government jobs often only require a bachelor’s degree.
How to Apply for Entry-Level Physics Jobs
To start your job search, head to job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn, and set up alerts for the roles you’re interested in. But don’t limit yourself to generic job boards. Specialty job boards may not list as many jobs as the catchall ones like Indeed, but they will list more jobs that are relevant to your field and experience level.
The American Physical Society (APS) and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) both offer career resources for physics majors. USAJOBS posts roles with government organizations that need skilled scientists (imagine yourself working for NASA or the Department of Defense!). And Scholars sends email alerts about entry-level positions for recent college grads.
You should also write a cover letter even if it isn’t required for the application. A cover letter allows you to pitch your skills and explain why you’re interested in the company. It can help you stand out in the application process — especially if other applicants haven’t written one.
One final way to stand out: Reach out to a recruiter. If you send a cold email to a recruiter or hiring manager, it could make them take more notice of your application.
Master the Science of Applying for Jobs
Your physics degree has set you up for a lifetime of success. But, that doesn’t mean it will come easily. In the beginning of your career, you may need to try a few different entry-level jobs for physics majors before you find the perfect fit for you. Just remember that it’s okay to change your career path, take a sidestep, or even pursue a role in an unrelated field.
As you start your career, it may help to pursue a job at a larger company because they’ll be able to offer more options for internal mobility if you don’t love the first job you try. But to get a job with a prestigious company, you’ll need to master the application and interview process. Scholars is here to help.
As the largest hub of career information for students and recent grads, we’ve got all the tips you need to land a job (not to mention our free entry-level job alerts). Sign up for Scholars to get career resources and job postings sent to your inbox.