What can you do with a physics major? There are a lot of jobs for physics majors from which to choose. Here are some of the top jobs a physics major can pursue.
A professor can earn about $78,470 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you studied physics in school, you can go on for further education to become a physics professor down the line.
A nuclear physicist is someone who researches and develops smarter ways to generate and use nuclear power. The job role involves conducting laboratory research, evaluating safety procedures at various nuclear power plants, performing inspections for military weapons, designing equipment and more. You can earn about $115,886, according to TradeSchools.net, but it's important to note that most nuclear physicists have doctoral degrees.
Astronomers use space telescopes and satellites to study the stars, planets and galaxies and, with that information they gain, develop theories about how they all evolve. Astronomers tend to work for government research centers, spending the bulk of their time in observatories, and they can earn about $111,090, according to TradeSchools.net.
Patent agents, who all must register with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), spend their days researching different inventions — their specifications and various uses — and then decide whether or not those inventions qualify for patents. Many people use patent agents in order to protect their inventions — pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, law firms, education institutions, etc. Patent agents may also be responsible for guiding these people through the application process for their inventions. This job earns them an average salary of $96,993, according to TradeSchools.net.
Physics majors make great computer scientists, who are responsible for applying computing principles to solve scientific problems (read: heat transfer, air turbulence, etc.). Computer scientists can earn about $91,563 on average, according to TradeSchools.net.
A journalist writes for a magazine, newspaper or online outlet either as a general reporter or with a specified beat — such as a science beat, with a specialty in physics. General reporter journalists make, on average, about $43,490 per year or $20.91 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, science journalists, who cover scientific issues in ways that the common person can digest, can earn about $55,530 on average, according to TradeSchools.net.
A meteorologist is in charge of analyzing and predicting the weather forecast. They study patterns in the weather and climate, which they're skilled to do because of their background that's usually in a field like physics. Many higher-up meteorologists have more than a bachelor's degree, however. Still, they can earn about $94,110 per year on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An energy policy analyst analyzes and develops energy strategies for government agencies and environmental organizations. They look into the environmental impacts of policies and then make recommendations for how to proceed based on their findings and conclusions. On average, energy policy analysts earn about $55,659, according to TradeSchools.net.
Data scientists can earn about $118,370 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They're responsible for inventing and designing novel approaches to computing technology and finding various innovative uses for our already-existing technology. While most data scientists have higher degrees, a bachelor's degree in physics is a solid start.
Quantitative research analysts may have degrees in physics, which help set them up to do their jobs: Analyze market data and companies' financial processes, and implement trading strategies that help those companies increase their profits while mitigating the risks involved. A degree in physics can help them because it requires complex analysis and problem-solving skills. The average salary for a quantitative research analyst is about $83,289, according to TradeSchools.net.
Technical writers earn about $71,850 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They write about scientific research and technology for people who utilize this research and technology. A physics degree, therefore, can help them to understand the materials about which they're writing.
Accelerator operators control, monitor, adjust and repair the particle accelerators that are critical factors for many scientific research experiments. They can earn about $67,134 with a physics degree and a lot of on-the-job training, according to TradeSchools.net.
High school teachers, on average, earn about $60,320 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, high school physics teachers earn about $64,340 on average, according to TradeSchool.net. Of course, they're responsible for creating lesson plans, tests and other materials to teach high school students the laws of physics. Some teachers may also act as tutors during after-school hours, or run extracurricular clubs for students interested in putting their physics lessons to practice. Beyond a degree in physics, however, teachers also need to be licensed to do their jobs.
Process engineers determine the materials and methods used to manufacture scientific products, such as solar panels, for example. A degree in physics is helpful since they need to understand how different materials interact and how different methods work in order to create functional and efficient products. While most employers of process engineers hire those with higher degrees of education, process engineers usually start out with degrees in disciplines like physics, and they can earn about $71,504, according to TradeSchools.net.
In short, aerospace systems engineers study the physics of flight. They earn, on average, $115,220 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their job is to design, develop, test run, maintain and repair aerospace systems. They're typically employed in industries that need workers to design or build aircrafts, missiles, systems for national defense or spacecrafts. (Those working with systems for national defense may need special credentials, beyond a degree in physics, in order to find employment.)
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.