When you think of entry level jobs for physics majors, you probably think of extremely-smart university professors working in advanced laboratories, making complex mathematical equations, and exploring the outer regions of human understanding.
If you think this way, you would not be wrong.
But there is more to jobs for physics majors than just academic study and research, and people with educations in physics are employed by all types of industry sectors. From entry level jobs for physics majors to physics careers requiring advanced doctorates, there is room for any type of education in this exciting field.
There is a need for people who understand physics in almost all sectors of the economy. Aerospace, agriculture, healthcare, transportation, and many other areas need people who understand the basic principles of physics.
If you have a talent (and appreciation) for math and a deep curiosity for the unknown, a physics degree may be perfect for you.
But first, you need to understand the basics of physics careers, the required educations, and the best jobs for physics majors.
Physics Careers: An Overview
A career in physics puts you at the forefront of science, technology, and innovation. Physics, which is the study of how matter and energy interact, can be applied to virtually any industry, so there are options beyond traditional physicists employed by a university.
There are many different types of physics, which means you can take your education and apply it to a stunning variety of options. Generally, they types of physics are separated into two different categories: classical physics and modern physics. (Don’t let the name fool you, there is still a need for people to study and apply classical physics.)
Classical physics involves mechanics, light, sound, and waves. It will involve heat and thermodynamics, as well as electromagnetism. Essentially, anything that was studied and used before the turn of the 19th century is considered classical physics, and it often involves types of physics things that we can see, hear, and feel in our natural world, without the use of advanced technology.
Modern physics involves concepts that are both larger and smaller than classical physics. Understanding the physical characteristics of an atom, for example, is a core part of modern physics. So is understanding the physical properties of a black hole. Atomic physics, astrophysics, and cosmology are all considered modern physics. High-energy physics and high-pressure physics fall into this category as well. Nuclear and molecular physics, quantum dynamics, relativity, and string theory are all part of modern physics.
Pros & Cons of a Career in Physics
Career versatility is one of the main benefits of a job in physics. You can take your education (whether it’s a bachelor’s or a doctorate) and apply it towards medicine, communication technology, space exploration, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and almost any other sector you can think of.
Working at the forefront of science and technology is often a benefit as well. In many of these physics careers, you get to create advanced techniques for understanding the universe, exploring space, traveling great distances, and improving the human condition. Regardless of other factors, this is often enough motivation for these careers.
Finally, there is the salary. Although money should not drive every decision, if you work in many of the top careers, even entry level jobs for physics bachelor’s, you can earn an outstanding salary. With many jobs brining annual salaries over $100,000, jobs for physics majors can bring excellent paychecks and a comfortable lifestyle.
But there are downsides to these careers. Most notably, they often require over a decade of post-secondary education. If you want to work as a physicist, astronomer, biophysicist, or medical scientist, you’ll need a doctorate. This usually requires about 12 years of study, so the path from high-school graduate to many jobs for physics majors can be long and frustrating.
Typical Education for Physics Jobs
The specific education requirements for physics careers will vary, but you will find that most of these jobs require at least a master’s, while many of the top careers in physics require a doctorate. To be a physicist (which is not the only option for physics majors) you will need a doctorate. The same goes for biophysicist, astronomer, and medical scientists.
However, there are options available for people with master’s degrees in physics. Although you may need specific training or education for the individual careers, a master’s in physics sets the ground work for careers as a mathematician or computer research scientist, among many other options.
Even a bachelors degree in physics can help. A four-year physics major brings the mathematical and science-based education required for work as a microbiologist, aerospace engineer, and even an actuary.
How Much On-the-Job Training or Experience is Required?
Many careers have on-the-job training requirements, which means that once you get hired, you may have to go through weeks or even months of training before you are considered a full-fledged employee.
Most of these careers, however, require little to no on-the-job training or previous experience. This is largely because the educational requirements for these careers are so demanding that when you graduate, you are ready for the career. Throughout your education, you will likely be completing field training and internships that prepare you for the complex challenges of jobs for physics majors.
The only job we list as the best jobs for a physics major is an actuary. This numbers- and statistics-based career, which has a tremendous salary, requires long-term on-the-job training. The rest, however, require no training and no previous experience in most cases.
Typical Salary for Entry Level Jobs for Physics Majors
The salary for physics careers depends on the specific job, where you work, and how much experience you have, as well as your overall skills and talents. However, if you have a degree in physics, especially an advanced degree like a master’s or doctorate, you can expect earnings well over $100,000.
Physicists, astronomers, nuclear engineers, and aerospace engineers all have median salaries well above $100,000. If you maintain your career, perform excellent work, and build your experience, you can likely expect salaries over $150,000.
Many entry level jobs for physics majors will not earn $100,000 a year. But as you build your experience, expect your physics major to bring an outstanding salary.
Job Spot Light: #1 Most Lucrative Entry Level Job for Physics Graduates
Median Salary: $116,500
Aerospace engineers make modern flight possible. They also create spacecraft, satellites, and virtually anything else that flies through the air or space. (This also includes military technology like missiles.) These engineers create and test prototypes of aircraft and spacecraft, with the eventual goal of making a trustworthy project.
There is an obvious need for physics in this career. Many bachelor’s degrees can be applied to this career, but it’s one of the best jobs for physics majors. This is because the career involves a high level of math, the interaction between air and speed, as well as deep analysis and theoretical thinking. Calculus, trigonometry, and geometry are all used in aerospace engineering, and these disciplines are addressed in a physics degree.
This career only requires a bachelor’s degree and no previous experience. With a median salary over $116,000, this is perhaps the best of all entry level jobs for physics majors.
Sponsored Pick: from Liberty University
Jobs Spot Light #1 Highest Paying Job for Physics Major
Median Salary: $122,850
Of all the potential careers you can achieve with a physics major, this is the most obvious. As a, you will study and interpret the ways in which matter and energy interact. You’ll develop scientific theories, plan experiments, design mathematical formulas, and write scientific papers on both your theories and your findings.
If you want to work in physics careers, if you want to join the ranks of Einstein, Newton, Tesla, Hawking, Curie, and Galileo, then you’re going to need a physics degree. More specifically, you’ll likely need a doctorate in physics. This is an advanced position, so it requires over a decade of college education.
Once you graduate, you’ll not only be called “doctor,” you can enter into a job that has a median salary of $122,850. And if you work your way into the top 10% of these jobs for physics majors, you can expect more than $201,000 in annual earnings!
Most Lucrative Entry Level Jobs for Physics Majors
#1 Computer Research Scientist
Median Salary: $122,840
A computer research scientist is involved in the research and development of new approaches to computer technology. They study complex computing problems and design strategies to address these concerns. Specific tasks vary and can include inventing new computer languages, designing experiments, analyzing results, and publishing findings in scientific journals.
A master’s degree in computer science or a related field is required for this position. However, a bachelor’s degree in physics, which involves experimentation, data analysis, and theoretical thinking, provides a great start. This career brings outstanding salaries, and the top 10% can expect pay over $189,000, making this one of the best physics careers.
Popular Pick: from Grand Canyon University
Median Salary: $114,590
Humans have been, for millennia, fascinated with the cosmos. While much of human history was dominated by astrology, which took a more spiritual approach, and sought to use the cosmos to make (largely trivial) predictions, astronomy is now the mainstream way of looking at the stars, moon, and sun. Astronomers study planets, moons, and galaxies, and they often use technology to enhance our understanding of the cosmos.
This profession has a strong connection with physics. Using mathematics and equations to predict future cosmic events is an important part of the job, so a physics degree will be an important aspect of your education. In particular, a bachelor’s or master’s in physics could be a great start for these careers in physics.
Popular Pick: from Columbia University in the City of New York
#3 Nuclear Engineer
Median Salary: $113,460
Growth: -13% (declining)
On of the most unique careers in physics is nuclear engineering. Nuclear engineering requires precise mathematical predictions and the expert use of equipment to ensure safe and efficient use of nuclear power. While a degree in nuclear engineering or an engineering field is required, an additional major or minor in physics will be beneficial.
The pay for this career is excellent, and the top 10% can expect salaries over $179,000. But there is a clear downside: job growth. With emerging energy sources, the need (and demand) for nuclear technology is declining. This has caused the Bureau of Labor Statistics to predict a 13% decline for this position between 2019 and 2029, which translates to a loss of roughly 2,100 jobs for these entry level jobs for physics majors.
Median Salary: $108,350
Experience: On the job training required
An actuary, one of the most interesting entry level jobs for physics bachelor’s, is responsible for analyzing the financial cost of risk. This has obvious uses for many companies, but they are typically employed by insurance companies, government agencies, and other large organizations.
A physics degree may not seem like an obvious choice, but this education deals with numbers and statistics, which makes it a good option for aspiring actuaries. Compiling data, organizing information, completing mathematical formulas, and performing numerous math-based tasks are all part of the actuary career. One of the top benefits for this career, besides the high salary, is the chance to work in a job that has an expected growth of 18%.
Although you’ll need training in actuary science, this job only requires a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, it could be considered one of the best entry level jobs for physics majors.
Median Salary: $105,030
The world needs good mathematicians. We need people to analyze data, formulate new methods of calculations, and create statistical techniques for a variety of purposes. From business to engineering to science to government, math may be more important than ever.
A physics degree, which includes a heavy dose of math, is a good start towards a mathematics career. You’ll learn the basics of calculus, trigonometry, and other important mathematical techniques, and you’ll have a broad numbers-based education that will help you become a mathematician in almost any field.
Popular Pick: from University of Washington
Median Salary: $94,490
Biophysicists, as the name implies, combine the principles of biology and physics to create a variety of new strategies and techniques related to science. Their work may include determining how cells communicate with one another or how proteins work. Their discoveries and innovations can be applied to medicine, technology, agriculture, and more.
Biophysicists are well-paid experts, earning a median salary over $94,000. However, if you can work your way to the top 10%, you can expect earnings over $182,000. A doctorate specifically in biophysics will be needed, but a bachelor’s and master’s in physics is an excellent start to your education.
Popular Pick: from Illinois Institute of Technology
#7 Medical Scientist
Median Salary: $88,790
The world needs new medicines and medical technology. Luckily for us, there are medical scientists working to improve healthcare and overall human wellbeing. These experts design studies, investigate diseases and medical conditions, create devices, and perform many other important functions to improve our health and healthcare.
To become a medical scientist, a doctorate will be required. An educational background in biology and life sciences is essential, but an undergraduate degree in physics, which teaches math, scientific principles, and experimentation, can also be helpful. The top 10% of this career earn over $159,000, making this one of the top jobs for physics majors.
Popular Pick: from Georgia Institute of Technology
Median Salary: $75,650
Technically, there are higher-paying jobs in physics that require no previous professional experience. A biophysicist, for example, has a median salary of roughly $94,000 a year. But this job, like many physics-based careers, requires a doctorate. A microbiologist, however, has a median salary of $75,650, needs no previous experience, and only requires a bachelor’s degree. By most people’s definition, this is more of an “entry level” job.
This is one of the best entry level jobs for physics majors for many reasons. Not only is the pay excellent, it also allows you to work in an exciting field. Microbiologists plan and execute complex research projects, which makes an education in physics extremely useful. They perform experiments, track data, make predictions, and prepare reports. Numbers and math is an important part of this career, so degrees in physics can apply directly to the position.
With an outstanding pay, relatively-low education requirements, and no required experience, this is one of the best of all entry level jobs for physics majors.
Entry Level Jobs for Physics Majors are Closer Than You Think
A career in physics is not light years away! If you are a hustling professional, a busy parent, or simply want to enter the fascinating world of physics at your own pace, an online degree is a great choice. You can land one of the entry level jobs for physics bachelor’s, and we can help start you down the right path.