What Can You Do with a Physics Degree?


Key Takeaways:

  • Physics degrees attract intellectually curious students and can enhance problem-solving and analytical skills.
  • Graduates have diverse career options beyond physics, including roles in finance, healthcare, and engineering.
  • Starting salaries vary widely by field, with physics bachelors earning around $45,000, increasing with advanced degrees.

If you are an intellectually capable student who wants to be stimulated by curriculum while you are in college, you may want to earn a physics degree. Many curious and intelligent students are attracted to physics degree programs because they have intrinsic interest in the discipline. While being genuinely interested in physical theory might seem like a sound reason to major in physics, you must really consider the overall value of a degree before you lean towards this major over all of the others in physical sciences. Many different factors will add value to a degree. Here is your guide to the value of a degree in physics so that you can learn if majoring in this discipline will lead you to a good return on investment.

How Many Majors Will You Compete With?

One of the first factors to consider when you are choosing a major is what the competition looks like. If there is a large supply of graduates to choose from, competing for a job may be more difficult. According to a study conducted by Georgetown University Center on Education, only about 93,000 students out of the total 936,000 physical science majors will choose to focus on physics. If you look at all of the students who attend college each year, this means that only .2% of the graduates will be declared physics majors. This either means that there is little competition in the workforce or there is little demand for a graduate who possesses a degree in this area of studies.

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What Can You Do With a Physics Degree? What Types of Jobs Are You Qualified For?

You do not have to be a physicist when you major in physics. While the same Georgetown survey uncovered that about 20% of majors do move on to become physicists, there are other options that you need to be aware of. Physics is one area in physical sciences that is not really vocational in nature, but with your degree you will develop some very useful and marketable skills. One thing that employers specifically like is that someone who majored in physics will have learned to solve complex problems with unique solutions that often use math. This is why it is not out of the norm for employers hiring computer programmers, finance experts, healthcare administrators, and engineers may consider physics majors. Since there is such a huge variety in titles that you can hold, majoring in this area may actually get you attention that others will not get.

What is Your Earning Potential?

There is such a huge variance in the earnings of physics majors just because of the variety in occupations. If you are a physicist with a bachelor’s degree, you will earn an average of $45,000 per year. This starting salary goes up to $60,000 for graduate degree holders. Salaries in finance, healthcare administration, computer programming and engineering can exceed those for physicists. Just know, that the unemployment rate for physicists is 6.8%, which is much lower than the national average of 10%.

Not all degrees offer students good value. If you would like to major in a discipline that will really stimulate your mind, physics could be an option. Many majors in this area are uncertain about their career paths, but with your physics degree there are more options than you might have thought to begin with.