Physics Career Options

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Acoustical Physics - Astronomy - Astrophysics - Biophysics - Fluid & Plasma Physics - Geophysics - Health Physics - Medical Physics - Nuclear Physics - Optical Physics - Science Education - Solid State Physics - Technology


Acoustical Physics

Employers

  • Colleges & Universities
  • Government Laboratories & non-profit research centers
  • Industry involved in electronics, building design, medical instrumentation, communications, engineering, noise pollution, and recording/film production

Strategies

  • Take courses in psychology and physiology, speech and hearing, vibration, radiation therapy, and light/optics
  • Earn a master's degree in physics (preferred by the industry)
  • Gain knowledge of political science, sociology, and law
  • Maintain an interest in music, the arts, and humanities

Resources

  • Acoustical Society of America
  • American Institute of Physics

Astronomy

Employers

  • Colleges & Universities
  • Observatories
  • Planetariums
  • Science Museums
  • Non-profit foundations
  • Industry: aerospace, scientific supply, mass media
  • Federal Government: National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA), Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, US Naval Observatory, US Naval Research Laboratory, etc.

Strategies

  • Get involved in a research project
  • Acquire excellent knowledge of oral and written English

Resources

  • American Astronomical Society
  • American Institute of Physics


Astrophysics

Employers

  • Government laboratories and research centers
  • Airports
  • Colleges & Universities
  • Industry including space research
  • Observatories or planetariums
  • National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
  • Military

Strategies

  • Gain experience through work or volunteering in a planetarium observatory, or science museum

Resources

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • American Institute of Physics


Biophysics

Employers

  • Colleges & Universities
  • Government laboratories and non-profit research centers
  • Industry including biotechnology, environment, pharmaceuticals
  • Hospitals

Strategies

  • Acquire information about state licensure required for technicians employed in hospitals or certain medical areas
  • Gain experience as a laboratory assistant, hospital orderly, or volunteer at a hospital/clinic

Resources

  • Biophysical Society


Fluid & Plasma Physics

Employers

  • Colleges & Universities
  • Government and non-profit research centers
  • Industry including automobile, jet engine and space vehicle design, and controlled fusion devices
  • Government agencies

Strategies

  • Earn master's degree for positions in industry

Resources

  • Fluid Dynamics Links


Geophysics

Employers

  • Colleges & Universities
  • Government and non-profit research centers
  • Federal government (e.g. US Geological Survey, Army Map Service, Naval Oceanographic Office)
  • Industry: petroleum, mining, exploration, and consulting firms

Strategies

  • Specialize in geophysics or minor in geology
  • Develop good background in mathematics, chemistry, engineering, and physics
  • Maintain good physical condition

Resources

  • American Geophysical Union


Health Physics

Employers

  • Colleges & Universities
  • Government laboratories and non-profit research centers
  • Government agencies, e.g. Departments of Defense, Energy, Public Health Service
  • Hospitals
  • Industry including health physics instrumentation, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, radioisotope products, nuclear accelarators and reactors, and environmental firms

Strategies

  • Earn PhD and certification by the American Board of Health Physics (ABHP) for top college/university teaching, advanced research, and administrative positions
  • Complete MS and certification by the ABHP for professional health physics positions
  • Specialize in health physics and obtain certification by the National Registry of Radiation Protection Technologists for technician positions
  • Acquire knowledge of government standards and regulations

Resources

  • Health Physics Society


Medical Physics

Employers

  • Colleges, universities, and medical schools
  • Hospitals
  • Industry, e.g. medical instrumentation
  • Governement agencies
  • Government laboratories and non-profit research centers

Strategies

  • Gain experience working in a hospital or other medical setting

Resources

  • Americna Association of Physicists in Medicine


Nuclear Physics

Employers

  • Colleges & Universities
  • Military
  • Industry including nuclear weapons, nuclear accelarators and reactors, nuclear instrumentation and radioisotope products
  • Government agencies, including Departments of Defense and Energy
  • Government laboratories and research centers

Strategies

  • Earn PhD for college/university teaching and advanced research and management positions. A master's degree is preferred for positions in industry.
  • Develop excellent laboratory skills
  • Acquire strong mathematics and chemistry background

Resources

  • APS Division of Nuclear Physics


Optical Physics

Employers

  • Colleges & Universities
  • Government laboratories and non-profit research centers
  • Industry, including medical scanners, eyeglasses, binoculars and microscopes, lasers, holography, display technologies, x-ray, ultraviolet spectra, and fiber optics
  • Federal agencies, including NASA, Departments of Energy and Defense

Strategies

  • Earn a master's degree for positions in industry
  • Take undergraduate coursework in electricity, magnetism, quantum mechanics, and electrons
  • Get involved in independent optics project during senior year

Resources

  • Optical Society of America


Science Education

Employers

  • Public school systems
  • Private schools
  • Schools for the blind and/or deaf
  • Industry
  • Publishing companies (books, magazines, and videos)
  • Libraries

Strategies

  • Gain experience working with young people through volunteering, tutoring, or working with after-school programs, summer camps, etc.
  • Each bachelor's degree (master's degree for teaching advanced science courses)
  • Acquire teaching certification/licensure
  • Visit schools and classrooms
  • Put together files of science experiments and activities
  • Become skilled in the use of computers

Resources

  • American Association of Physics Teachers


Solid State Physics

Employers

  • Government laboratories and non-profit research centers
  • Colleges & Universities
  • Electronics industry, including communications, automobile, computer, and navigation/guidance systems
  • Government agencies, including NASA and the Department of Defense

Strategies

  • Obtain experience working with electronics and computers
  • Request job listings from the American Institute of Physics

Resources

  • American Institute of Physics


Technology

Employers

  • Research and Development Firms
  • Mining and petroleum companies
  • Hospitals
  • Engineering firms
  • Professional and technical journals
  • Government laboratories
  • Manufacturing and processing firms
  • Atomic and nuclear labs
  • Government agencies (Departments of Commerce and Defense)
  • Television and radio stations
  • Weather bureaus

Strategies

  • Gain experience through internships/co-ops
  • Complete certification/licensure through a professional organization
  • Gain knowledge about the field through informational interviews with professionals
  • Develop work habits that are systematic, precise, and patient
  • Develop a strong computer background
  • Gain experience using scientific instruments and equipment

Resources

  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics