Physics and Astronomy
Many Physics and Astronomy graduates enter employment that makes use of their discipline, either directly, or indirectly, by using their numerical, analytical, and problem solving skills.
Typical jobs include Software Engineer, Trainee Clinical Scientist (NHS), Scientist in the Nuclear Industry, Physics Technician, Web Developer, Sound Engineer, Acoustics Engineer, and Auditor. Teaching has recently become a popular option.
Some graduates choose employment in areas outside of their discipline – examples are as diverse as charity fundraising, sales, marketing, general management, and working with the homeless.
A high proportion of Physics and Astronomy students continue into further study, with many embarking on a PhD / MPhil, perhaps with a view to a career in academia or research institute. Masters programmes relating to their subject are also popular. Some of these graduates may then move on to a PhD, or enter research-related employment.
A small number of those completing PG courses choose alternatives which require a high level of scientific knowledge, such as Patent Attorney or Science Communication.
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Step 1 - Look at the career paths of recent graduates
Understanding what recent graduates from your subject have gone on to do can be a valuable source of information to help in career planning, but bear in mind that what you choose to do will be a personal decision based on many other factors, such as what you are good at, what you enjoy, and what you want from work.
Read this section first, if you have not already done so, as it will help you explore these factors and get ideas for possible careers.
This data was collected six months after graduation, so although useful, it doesn't provide a reliable indicator of longer term career paths. Some graduates are still in transition and may be in short term jobs, mainly in administrative, retail and customer service roles, developing further skills and experience while at the same time job hunting, travelling or taking time out.
Our graduate case studies database allows you to search by department and read the case studies from graduates who describe their career path and provide a realistic insight into the world of work.
Step 2 - Research options linked to your subject
We have put together a number of resources to help with this.
There are a number of obvious jobs that you may wish to consider such as research scientist, software engineer, or medical physicist. However, there are many other alternatives, as a large proportion of vacancies advertised to graduates are open to any degree subject, so you should be prepared to explore all your options and be open to new career ideas, investigating roles with small companies (SMEs) as well as the large organisations you may already be familiar with.
Options with your subject - Physics
Make a start by reading this section of the Prospects website and develop ideas on how you can best use your degree.
This guide produced by Targetjobs, should help you think about the skills you have and the jobs they can be applied to.
Career directions - Institute of Physics
The Institute of Physics has a useful careers section, with information about job sectors that might appeal, along with a brief guide to Masters courses and PhDs.
This part of Prospects includes profiles covering a wide range of occupations, including job descriptions, salary, entry requirements, training, typical employers and vacancies.
Step 3 - Search vacancy databases for jobs of interest
We advertise over 5000 vacancies each year for graduate jobs, placements, part-time, voluntary and vacation work.
Our Information resources database includes a section covering a large number of general and regional graduate vacancy websites. Within the occupations section we include recruiters who specialise in a particular sector. Increasingly, professional organisations and government bodies also include vacancies as part of their website.
Other suggested vacancy sources
- IOP work placements scheme
- New Scientist Jobs
- Bright Recruits
- ResearchGate - a professional network for scientists and researchers. Includes a large number of vacancies in the sciences
- Research, Analysis and Support.
- Prospects work experience - a national work experience website
- Target jobs - another work experience website