Graduate jobs with a physics degree

Physics graduates should feel confident about their career prospects, as the skills and understanding earned during their degree make them desirable in the graduate employment market. Their mix of mental and practical skills mean they can consider careers in a variety of sectors.

What can a Physics Graduate do?

A degree in Physics gives graduates a very specific set of knowledge, but the skills developed in gaining that knowledge are widely applicable to fields in any discipline.

Some Physics graduates will want to continue on to pursue a degree in Physics, which almost always requires further study—a Masters degree, if not a Doctorate. Graduates pursuing this path will need to specialize and greatly develop their skills in order to go on to roles such as scientist or researcher.

The majority of Physics graduates do not pursue careers in the discipline, but go on to work in fields such as Business, HR, Finance, IT, Consultancy, Banking and Accountancy. These fields allow Physics graduates to use their maths and analytical skills.

Engineering is another sector which Physics graduates may want to consider, as it allows them to bring their scientific knowledge and understanding to a range of jobs such as polymer technologist. Graduates interested in pursuing this path should work to develop their communication skills and professionalism.

Source HECSU - What do graduates do? 2013.

Taking Stock of Skills

Physics graduates have a broad range of skills to offer employers:

Analysis – Much of the work undertaken in Physics requires studying data and modelling and arranging the results. Graduates from this discipline have highly tuned analytical skills which allow them to make the most of data as long as they understand the context—a valuable skill in many fields.

Communication – Physics graduates are very adept at leading presentations and writing reports, often needing to express complex theories and ideas in writing. This high level of communicative skill is beneficial in virtually any role.

Investigative skills – Physics graduates have finely tuned investigative skills which allow them to understand small variables, long term aims and experiment outcomes, while relying on good research in their preparation and execution of experiments. These skills are transferable to many fields, including Finance and Accountancy.

IT skills – Many physics graduates understand the nature of computing and how programming works. Graduates from this discipline are competent and confident with operating complex programmes or working with basic coding, and can apply this skill to roles requiring the use of computers and technology.

Mathematics – An extremely desirable skill in many sectors, graduates would not be able to complete a degree in Physics without a solid grasp of complex Maths including statistical issues and working with fine margins.

Problem solving – Being able to look at a problem and determine how best to overcome it is a skill valued across many sectors. Physics graduates are able to easily asses problems and their possible consequences and implications due to their in-depth grasp of cause and effect.

Specialist knowledge – An obvious attribute for Physics graduates, a knowledge of the discipline as a whole and any specific understanding will allow graduates access to certain jobs not available to the majority of university leavers.

Theoretical understanding – Many Physics graduates spend a lot of time dealing with theoretical principles and working in grey or abstract areas. Being able to think critically while juggling several possibilities shows a type of thought process that many employers look for in applicants.

GCHQ