What can you do with a physics degree? 

Physics student
The highly transferable skill-set of a physics grad makes them seriously attractive to potential STEM employers. Image: Shutterstock

Sold on a Bachelor of Science, but not sure what to major in? Here are four cool and unexpected jobs a Bachelor of Science (Physics) could lead to.

If you’re thinking about enrolling in a Bachelor of Science, there are loads of reasons why majoring in physics is a good idea. And despite the maths-meets-science elective often overlooked for those with clearer post-grad pathways, there are loads of industries crying out for a physics major’s advanced maths, analytics, problem-solving and computational skills.  

“Physics gives us a language and a framework to describe the world around us,” stresses Jennifer MacLeod, Head of QUT’s School of Chemistry and Physics. “Through physics, we can understand why things are the way they are, and we can make informed predictions about the future.” 

And it’s not just the fact that physics underpins every aspect of the world around us that makes it an exciting field of study. The highly transferable skill-set of a physics grad and their unique ability to diversify down several different pathways, makes them seriously attractive to potential STEM employers. 

“At QUT, our students develop key competences including analytical abilities, problem solving, numeracy and computational skills,” says Jennifer. “They are agile thinkers, uniquely poised to understand complex systems and address emerging challenges in all facets of modern life.”

Here, we look at four potential careers that a physics degree, such as QUT’s Bachelor of Science (Physics), could lead to.  

1. Astrophysicist 

Studying the physics of the universe has to be up there with one of the coolest science research fields of all time. Careers in astrophysics call for a physics major’s advanced maths, analytics and problem-solving skills to explore out-of-this-world concepts like the origin of exploding stars, the ins and outs of cosmic dust and how galaxies came to be. Regularly rocking cutting-edge tech – telescopes, microscopes and state-of-the art cameras – is all part of the gig, and hours are generally split between research, writing and presenting at events and conferences. 

Salary-wise, grads should expect to earn from AU$54k to AU$122k.* 

RELATED: Understanding the universe with neutrinos, black holes and physics

2. Geophysicist

Geophysicists study the earth, but only what goes down below the ground. They use specialised seismic, gravity, magnetic and electrical data collection methods to explore resource supply and natural phenomena like earthquakes and magnetic fields. Processing data, conducting surveys and estimating disaster risk is all in a day’s work. 

And the pay? Salaries sit around the AU$58k to AU$135k mark. 

3. Materials scientist

During 9 to 5 these guys are generally lab-bound, studying the chemical properties that make up different man-made and natural materials ­– think: glass, rubber, ceramic and metals – in order to strengthen and improve them. Things like shoes, reading glasses, plates, soap, Tupperware and make-up wouldn’t be developed without a material scientist’s processing and production smarts. Physics grads interested in materials science generally score gigs with biotechnological businesses, government organisations, computer manufacturing companies and even universities. QUT has recently announced a new research centre in Materials Science, which goes to show the importance of this field of study and research! 

RELATED: Dancing with physics

 An annual salary for a materials scientist? Between AU$64k and AU$112k.

4. Meteorologist

Meteorologists use a variety of physics-based techniques to interpret data from weather stations, satellites, radars and remote sensors in order to predict and monitor our climate. The reports they generate are distributed to the general public, but also to emergency service teams who rely on weather forecasts to manage strategy, evacuations, aid relief and road closures during particularly extreme conditions. 

The average wage for a meteorologist is generally around AU$61k and AU$110k

 *Salaries taken from PayScale

This article is brought to you in partnership with QUT

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital assistant, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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