Physics

One possibly appealing aspect of studying physics is the diversity of physics careers, which are not set in any one direction. Physics graduates have skills that are in high demand in diverse sectors. These include skills relating to numeracy, problem-solving, data analysis and the communication of complex ideas, as well as a wider understanding of how the world works, on a scientific and human level.

This highly transferable and valued skillset also means physics graduates earn more! According to the Institute of Physics (IOP), while the average graduate starting salary in the UK is £19,700 those with a BSc in Physics earn 14% more (£22,500, approx.), and this increases to 18% more (£23,300;) for those with a Master of Physics (MPhys).

Careers directly related to your degree include Geophysicist, metallurgist, HE Lecturer, research scientist (physical sciences), seismic interpreter, secondary school teacher.

The skills and aptitudes you are developing on your course are highly sought after by many employers. A physics degree sets you up well for research-based roles and positions in other sciences, it is also useful for careers in business, consultancy, project management, finance, IT and engineering.

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

Skills

Studying physics can help you to develop a range of skills that can be applied in many areas, both scientific and non-technical. These skills include:

  • analytical and problem solving
  • high level numerical and IT skills
  • reasoning
  • practical skills
  • You will also have developed through your course the "softer" skills that employers are looking for, such as communication and inter-personal skills, teamwork, organisation, planning and presentation skills.  

For further detail on the typical abilities a Physics graduate has, have a look a the Higher Education Academy Information

Career Options 

One approach to assessing your career options is to look at where other Physics graduates go. Have a look at the What do Graduates Do pages. HECSUs report shows that the greatest number go into "Business, HR, Finance (18.9%) and Information Technology Professionals" (18.9%), followed by the Engineering and Building Professions (9.1%). Typical examples of Physics graduates job titles include Radiology Assistant, Graduate Research Scientist, Development Engineer, Nuclear Engineer, Business Analyst, Trainee patent attorney However, the range of potential roles is huge, and you are not limited to these areas. 

Physics graduates can typically be found in the following sectors:

  • Finance - banking and insurance
  • Operational Research
  • Computing
  • Statistical analysis
  • Defence, science and engineering
  • Operations and logistics
  • Risk management
  • Teaching and lecturing

To research any of these areas further, the Prospects website is a good starting point, together with some of the more specialist links on this page. It may be that you do not wish to enter a career where you will use your Physics related skills. Your career options are still wide. 

Some questions to ask yourself

  • Do you want to use Physics in your career, and if so which area of Physics are you interested in? 
  • What type of organisation would you like to work for? Large company/small company, private sector, public sector (government, local government, health service, education establishments)
  • Are you interested in a graduate programme/scheme  (usually two years with a large company/organisation)
  • Are you interested in business? Would you like to use your research skills? Would you like to apply your Physics  skills in another area of interest, such as the environment, or healthcare, or politics?
  • Have a look at the Planning your Future pages for further tips to help you think about your career ideas. Book an appointment with a Careers and Consultant if you would like to talk through your ideas.

Postgraduate Study

If you are considering going onto further study such as a Masters course, Prospects further study section is useful. For certain career areas such as roles in finance and accounting, you will be required to undertake professional qualifications while you work.

Teacher training

Physics teachers at secondary level in the UK are very much in demand and according to the Institute of Physics our schools need more specialist physics teachers than ever before. The Government awards generous bursaries to candidates who successfully gain a place on a teacher training programme up to £30.000 (the amount of funding you can get is dependant on your degree class). IOP scholarships  are also available to help you get through your training. For further information on how to get into teaching, go to our Entry into Teaching page, and see the Department for Education's Get into Teaching website.

Last modified: 
Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 15:40