Physics is sometimes referred to as the “liberal arts” degree of technology because physics majors can go on to careers in fields such as computer science, engineering, and research and development. Others have referred to physics as the “Swiss Army Knife” degree because of all the skills that students acquire from a major in physics. Physics majors have a reputation for solid mathematical skills, strong problem solving ability, and good work ethic. It is these fundamental skills that allow them to work successfully in so many different areas. The graphs below, from the American Institute of Physics (AIP), show the broad range of career paths taken by students with an undergraduate degree in physics.
Other data from the American Institute of Physics clearly demonstrate the value of an undergraduate physics degree. The graphs below show that the starting salaries for physics bachelor’s degrees are very competitive, and comparable to other fields of science and engineering, with private sector salaries found typically in the $40,000 to $50,000 range.
Unemployment rates among students with physics bachelor’s degrees are very low. AIP surveys show that 35 to 50% of graduates immediately begin employment, while 28 to 36% begin graduate study in physics or astronomy, 18 to 23% begin graduate study in other fields, and less than 7% of students suffer a period of unemployment following graduation.
Some physics majors go on to medical school or law school and the following tables demonstrate that these students do exceptionally well on the MCAT and LSAT exams
These data demonstrate that a physics degree is a very valuable credential.