Career Advice

Career Advice
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Overview

The following downloadable documents are excellent descriptions of Careers in Physics:

  • why studying physics at York University can lead to an excellent career, click here. The study of physics and astronomy is both useful, relevant and advantageous for both tangible and intangible reasons. According to a recent survey, "York physics alumni now have high-paying, jobs in careers as teachers, professors, managers, researchers, software engineers, entrepeneurs, business owners and medical physicists. 40±7% of York physics graduates who shared their income with us in a recent survey have an annual income of $75,000 or more." (Reference: AIP Career Network)
  • To see why studying physics, in general, can lead to excellent career opportunities, go here.
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Your Skills and Where They May Take You

Physics is the classic discipline that combines experiment and mathematical modelling or theory into a powerful entity. Experiments are used to observe phenomena in nature. Theories are constructed to understand the phenomena. They lead to further probing by refined experiments. This methodology is being applied increasingly to disciplines that were less mathematical in the past, such as biology, and even economics. Studying physics may be the best way to grasp this methodology. The traditional view of a physicist is that of someone hovering over apparatus on a bench. This is not quite right, as most physicists today are using computers to test their theories, as well as to collect data from their experiments, to visualize data, etc. A whole new field of physics has emerged, called Computational Physics. Graduates of physics who made use of computing have excellent prospects of finding computer-related and software-related jobs. It is important to realize this fact given that many jobs will be created in these fields in the private sector, and that computer science departments are both oversubscribed and providing very different training. As a physics student you acquire problem-solving skills, and at the same time obtain computer training, in reasonably small classes. A summary of a physicist's job, ability and background is:

  • A physicist's job consists of solving challenging problems, and the real world is full of problems to solve.
  • A physicist's ability to break a problem down into basic principles and deploy appropriate tools to analyze it can be applied to a wide range of fields and industries.
  • A physics background provides skills in quantitative reasoning, computing, critical thinking, and problem solving.  These skills are in great demand in industry and academia.  According to a recent survey, York physics alumni now have careers as teachers, professors, managers, researchers, software engineers, entrepeneurs, business owners and medical physicists.

Physics students find that their studies are excellent preparation for many different fields:

  • Physics and Astronomy majors going on to graduate school have the highest combined Verbal and Quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
  • Physics majors and Math majors have the highest average scores of any major on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for business school. [Based on data from 2006-2011]
  • Physics majors and Math majors have the highest average scores on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). [Based on data from 1991-1992 and 1994-1995 combined and from 1991-1992 alone.]
  • Physics majors and Biomedical Engineering majors have the highest average scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). [Based on data from 2009.]

There are many career options for physics and astronomy graduates. That is because the skills taught in a physics and astronomy degree are applied routinely in almost every occupation.

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Salaries

While a physics career yields the intangible reward of gaining a deeper appreciation of the way the universe works, there are tangible rewards as well --- physicists have in-demand skills and are paid accordingly.
Physicists who go on to earn a Master's or Ph.D. have median salaries that are among the highest for any profession, lower only than doctors, dentists, pilots and lawyers. 40±7% of York physics graduates who shared their income with us in a recent survey have an annual income of $75,000 or more. For more information, visit the American Institute of Physics's Website for Data on Salaries of Physicists at: https://www.aip.org/statistics/employment/salaries. Please also see this news item: What's Your Science Degree Worth?
http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2014_06_25/caredit.a1400163

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Personal Stories from Career Physicists

No two physicists or astronomers are the same, and each one chose this career for unique reasons. Here are the personal stories of several physicists, astronomers, and their careers.

Even if your goal is not to become a physicist or an astronomer, it is important for each of us to understand the physics that affects our everyday lives and the society in which we live. For many examples of people who are not physicists or astronomers but are glad they studied physics, read these personal stories.

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York University Career Centre

York University Career Centre can help students with resume writing, preparing for interviews, and their website connects to multiple job search websites.

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Career Resources for Physics and Astronomy Graduates

Click on an icons below for more information about careers in physics and astronomy.
For more information visit the American Institute of Physics Careers Page at https://www.aip.org/career-resources.  

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Companies that Hire Physics and Astronomy Graduates

The following is a partial list of a large number of companies and institutions that hire physicists, engineers, and information technologists in physics related fields:

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Additional Career Resources for Biophysics Graduates

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Additional Companies that Hire Biophysics Graduates

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