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much education should I get?
deciding how far to go in the education system, you should consider
at least two questions: how passionate are you about the field and
what kind of career would you like. It is perfectly acceptable to
pursue an advanced degree in a field simply because you love it
and find it intellectually stimulating. It is also reasonable to
consider income potential as a factor in your career decision.
will I need?
credentials provide opportunities and open up specific possibilities.
First, identify the set of career options that you envision for
yourself and, then, research whether specific credentials are required
or recommended. For example, careers in medical physics that involve
patient care often require board certification and high school teachers
typically need a certificate attesting to their background in pedagogy
and educational methods.
For more information,
you should talk with your academic advisor or your school's career
counselor. In addition, you should contact the professional societies
or organizations relevant to the career paths you are considering.
Check the resources section to find a list of links for organizations.
of their undergraduate training do physics bachelors report as the
most important in shaping their career?
physics degrees pursue a remarkable variety of careers in a broad
range of settings. Yet, the majority reported that their undergraduate
physics training was a solid background for their current careers.
Specifically, nearly all physics bachelors noted the importance
training in cognitive areas like complex problem solving, analytical
and critical thinking, and learning how to learn.
also cite the importance of their knowledge of physics, that is,
the broad understanding of basic principles and the foundation for
acquiring new knowledge in a rapidly changing world. Physics education
is also valuable in the technical skills that it provides including
advanced mathematics, computer skills, and equipment skills. Many
physics bachelors credit their physics education for important personal
traits such as mental discipline, perseverance, a strong work ethic,
and the self-confidence of having completed a difficult and challenging
course of study.
graduates major in physics if they had to do it over again?
Yes. The majority
of physics graduates, at all degree levels, report that physics
is a solid foundation for their current career.
graduates advise current or future students to also take classes
outside of physics. Specifically, use the other courses to develop
two skills: a broad technical background with subjects such as programming
and math and communication and management skills with courses in
the social sciences and foreign languages. It is also important
to develop a specialization that provides you with expertise in
an applied area; getting a second major or a minor accomplishes
the most rewarding aspects of the work physicists do?
where they work and their specific occupations, most physics bachelors
report that the most rewarding aspects of their current positions
is the challenge of solving interesting and complex problems and
the satisfaction of developing creative solutions to problems.
The second most
cited reward was working with people. These include the satisfaction
of working with intelligent and creative co-workers, supervising
employees and helping them develop their full potential, and the
rewards of working with customers, clients, and students.
bachelors, especially those in the private sector, report a great
deal of satisfaction from seeing a project yield a successful and
useful product. The last major category of rewards reflects the
intellectual satisfaction of developing new methods, processes,
and designs. PhD physicists also note the intellectual satisfaction
of successful research and adding to the knowledge base.
What do employers
look for in an ideal candidate?
employers first look for knowledge and experience that matches their
specific and immediate needs. Beyond that, however, many look for
some combination of four general skills and traits. One area is
problem solving ability including intelligence, quantitative skills,
and a practical orientation, e.g., the ability to break a complex
problem down to its elementary parts and identify a set of likely
solutions. Another area is drive and aspirations including persistence,
a strong work ethic, and a high standard of excellence.
A third area
is personal impact including such traits as communication skills
(writing, speaking, and listening), the ability to work within a
team environment, and a personal presence. A fourth area is leadership
including initiative and entrepreneurship, which is especially important
in the private sector. Employers are looking for people who can
assess the strengths of their company, assess the strengths of their
team, and propose an idea for a new product or service that is consistent
with the company's goals.