A physics degree is a great way to get a job as a physicist, but what other jobs are there for a physics major? Is a physics degree worth it? What kind of jobs can you get with a physics degree?
Students often wonder if getting a physics degree is worth it or not. If you’re considering a physics degree, you should weigh all of the pros and cons before deciding if going into physics is right for you.
In this article, I’ll talk about whether a physics degree is right for you, its benefits, disadvantages, and the career prospects for physics majors.
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Is a Physics Degree Worth It?
A physics degree is well worth pursuing because you’ll be developing skills that will help you in many different careers. The physics and math foundations you build will give you reasoning, quantitative, and problem-solving skills that will serve you well in any field. You’ll also develop your ability to think critically. These abilities are extremely valuable many fields.
Physics is a STEM major and it is widely regarded as one of the most rigorous majors available. Physics students are exposed to a wide variety of topics and disciplines, including mathematics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and astronomy.
These subjects help prepare you for many different careers after graduation. Physics also teaches you to think critically about your surroundings and how they work. This gives you an advantage when applying for jobs in other fields.
A physics degree will help prepare you with a solid foundation of skills to get a job in many different areas. But it doesn’t directly prepare you for any specific career path, except for becoming a physicist or working in academia.
Jim Bogdan, who has a Ph.D. in Physics from Georgia Tech, says “a bachelor’s degree in physics by itself isn’t the best career degree. But if you pair it with another major for a career or plan to pursue a graduate degree, a physics BS degree is a great choice.”
Jason Wang has a Ph.D. in Physics from Caltech and says “if you want to get a Ph.D., you should look at Computer Science, Statistics, Electrical Engineering, or other Engineering fields. What you learn in a physics Ph.D. program is very narrow, which can put you in a dangerous situation in the job market.”
Is Physics a Useless Degree?
No, a degree in physics is not useless. It involves more than simply mathematics and formulas. You’ll discover how things function on a fundamental level as well as how to solve difficulties using logic and reason. You’ll also discover how to put these ideas into practice in actual life circumstances.
One of the most significant fields in contemporary civilization is physics. It aids in our understanding of how the universe functions and how we relate to it. When it comes to technology, physics is also highly helpful. For instance, physicists contribute to the development of satellites, rockets, and other space exploration tools.
Without some preparation while you’re still in school, a degree in physics may not help you get employment in the field you want to work in after graduation.
You can enroll in classes that will assist you in achieving your job goals if you have any specific career options in mind. For instance, if you wanted to create rockets, you could double major in both physics and aeronautical engineering. Or, to equip yourself with the scientific and practical knowledge needed to make rockets, take further aerospace engineering courses.
The Influence of Physics on Society
Physics is the study of matter and its motion through space and time. It is the foundation of all scientific knowledge. Without it, we could not understand the universe around us nor design any new technologies. Physics is also responsible for our ability to communicate across great distances using radio waves, satellites, cell phones, and other forms of electronic communication.
Physics is important because it helps us understand the universe around us. It allows us to create transportation systems like cars, planes and rockets. It helps us protect ourselves against threats like asteroids and missiles. And it helps us defend our country. Physicists are involved in creating nuclear weapons, and they are also working on ways to detect them before they explode.
Astronauts need to understand gravity and other forces at play in space in order to navigate safely through the cosmos. Physics is an important part of science, and it helps us explain what we see around us and the origins of the universe.
Scientists like Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, and Neil deGrasse Tysons have contributed greatly to our knowledge of the universe and its workings.
Influential Physicists Who Changed the World
There are many influential physicists who have degrees in physics. These scientists have made great contributions to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
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Many of them are considered geniuses, and some have received awards for their achievements.
Isaac Newton – The father of classical mechanics, he discovered universal gravitation and the law of inertia. He was also the first person to predict the orbit of Uranus.
Albert Einstein – His theory of relativity revolutionized our understanding of space and time. He developed special and general relativity, as well as the photoelectric effect.
Erwin Schrödinger – He formulated quantum mechanics, which explains the behavior of subatomic particles such as electrons, protons, neutrons, and quarks.
Richard Feynman – He helped develop quantum electrodynamics, which describes the interactions between light and matter.
Elon Musk – He created SpaceX, Tesla Motors, PayPal, and Neuralink. He has also been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Stephen Hawking – He’s best known for his work with black holes, but he also wrote A Brief History of Time, which became one of the bestselling books ever published.
Carl Sagan – He was a noted astronomer, author, and popularizer of astronomy. He wrote Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which won him a Pulitzer Prize.
Neil deGrasse Tyson – He’s an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He’s hosted several television shows about astronomy, including StarTalk.
Different Branches of Physics
The study of physics spans a wide range of disciplines and research fields. The primary branches of physics studied are:
- Classical Mechanics is the study of matter and energy that move in recognizable patterns. Billiard balls, pendulums, springs, and planets are a few examples.
- Quantum Mechanics examines how items behave when they are very small or very huge in comparison to normal objects. For instance, this includes subatomic particles, molecules, and atoms.
- Astrophysics is a discipline of science that is devoted to investigating the universe on a grand scale. Astrophysicists utilize telescopes to study, among other things, stars and galaxies. Find out more about how challenging astronomy is. Learn more about How Hard Astrophysics Is.
- Cosmology is the area of physics that studies the beginning and development of the cosmos. Astronomers use telescopes to view backward in time to learn more about what occurred before to the Big Bang.
- Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics are disciplines of physics that focus on entropy, pressure, and temperature. They provide an explanation for why some substances freeze at low temperatures and boil at high ones.
- Relativity describes how gravity operates and how it influences motion. Special relativity, which Einstein developed, asserts that mass and energy may be transformed into one another.
- Electromagnetism describes the electromagnetic force, which generates electricity and magnetism.
- Nuclear Physics is a field of physics that studies how radioactive elements like uranium and plutonium are created by nuclear reactions. Nuclear physicists also research the aging of these elements.
- Particle Physics studies the tiniest parts of physics like matter, such as electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, and gluons. Physics researchers look into the interactions between particles.
- Optics is the study of light and its consequences.
- Acoustic Physics is the study of sound. Sound waves are the subject of acoustics.
What Can I Do With a Physics Degree? Are Physics Majors in Demand?
A bachelor’s degree in physics will help prepare you for many different careers by giving you a solid foundation of mathematical knowledge. You’ll learn about the physical properties of materials, such as density, viscosity, elasticity, and thermal conductivity. You’ll also learn about the forces that act between them, including gravitational attraction, electrostatic repulsion, friction, and inertia.
In addition to learning about the world around us, physics majors often go on to work in fields like medicine, engineering, chemistry, or even law.
The demand for physics majors has been increasing steadily according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), growing at 8% every year. The national median pay for a Physicist is $147,450 per year.
However, becoming a physicist will generally require a Ph.D. program. A master’s degree may not be enough if you want to become a scientist in research or academia.
A bachelor’s degree will generally not be directly applicable for any jobs other than entry-level positions in a variety of fields. However, an advanced degree could give you more and better opportunities in the long run.
After graduation, some go straight into industry, while others stay in academic research. According to a study published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP):
- 46% of physics bachelors were employed one year after getting their degree.
- 31% went on to Graduate Studies in Physics & Astronomy.
- 17% went on to Graduate Studies in other fields.
- 6% are unemployed.
There are several career options available to those who have earned a Bachelor’s degree in Physics. Some of the most popular include the following:
- Research Scientist – Research scientists perform experiments to find new information about nature. They use math, computers, and lab equipment to gather data and analyze it.
- Engineer – Engineers design products and processes used in everyday life. Their job involves creating blueprints, building things, and testing products before they’re sold.
- Teacher – Teachers teach students about the natural world through lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. They can teach subjects ranging from biology to history.
- Computer Programmer – Computer programmers write programs that make machines do what people tell them to do. They usually develop software using programming languages like C++, Java
- Chemist – Chemists create chemical compounds that can be used in medicines, food, plastics, dyes, detergents, paints, and other products. They measure how much of each compound is present and determine its composition.
- Physicist – Physicists explore the fundamental laws that govern matter and energy. They discover new scientific principles and apply these principles to solve problems.
- Astronomer – Astronomers look up at the night sky and try to understand what we see there. They use telescopes to observe stars, planets, galaxies, and nebulae.
Is Physics a Good Major?
Because it equips you with several talents that employers value, physics is a fantastic major. You’ll gain knowledge in problem-solving, critical thinking, collaborative work, creativity, and leadership. Additionally, many businesses claim that people with backgrounds in science or engineering are more creative and productive.
A physics major can be the best choice for you if you wish to work in academia or scientific research. The Ph.D. is recommended because those occupations typically call for advanced, post-graduate degrees. This necessitates returning to school for at least another four years.
Is a Physics Degree Worth It? Final Thoughts
If you’re seeking employment in academia or industry, physics is a fantastic major to take into consideration. You will receive a thorough education in theoretical physics and be able to use your newfound knowledge to solve issues in the real world.
Learn more about other majors and subjects: