Physics graduates are employed in many and extraordinarily varied fields. Your training as a scientist and problem solver, your technical expertise with equipment, your computer programming knowledge and general knowledge of the forefront of technology makes you a very desirable employee. You should also be proud of your ability to tackle problems independently, to work on a team, and to communicate science in writing and orally. OSU Physics offers you many opportunities to hone these skills! We're proud to deliver you to the workforce to make a positive impact on the local and global community.

American Physical Society (APS) describes career paths and job prospects. Look at the many faces and careers of Physicists at NSBP profiles and APS profiles
American Institute of Physics (AIP) Statistics about physics employment
AIP Statistics about salaries for physicists

Types of employment  Where?  What?
Research & Development University, government lab, large private company, start-up company, consulting Discover new fundamental and applied knowledge, usually in physics and related disciplines.
Education University, community college, high school, middle & elementary school, education within a company, consulting Teach physics and related subjects at all levels, from children to adults, including continuing education. Also manage education programs
Technical University, government lab, large private company, start-up company, entrepreneurial venture, science museum, planetarium Support for any type of technical endeavor, often in the high-tech and energy sectors.  Includes field engineering, clean room tech, semiconductors, nanotechnology, quantum tech, (electro)optics,  ....
Software engineering Everywhere! Large & small private company, utility company, government agency Programming, code development, systems management, modeling
Data science Large & small private company, utility company, government agency Formulating approaches to solve problems using algorithms and data sources, analyzing and understanding data to improve and innovate processes.
Science writing, journalism, editing Science publications, newspapers, technical companies, Writing about science for many different audiences, for many types of publications. Could also be in-house writer for company or science enterprise. Science editing.
Science policy Federal, state, local government Develop policy, lobby
Medical Physics Hospitals, clinics, medical practices Clinical and technical expertise in radiation of all types
Law, medicine, pharmacy, other professional   Many professional schools welcome Physics majors as they broaden their traditional admissions base.  Physics students fare well on LSAT and MCAT!


Companies that employ Physicists

AIP page with state-by-state listings of companies that have recently employed physics majors.
Local companies that OSU PH majors have joined: Intel, Hillsboro; Hewlett Packard, Corvallis; PMIC, Corvallis; Thermo Fisher, Beaverton; Voxtel, Eugene; ThorLabs, NY; Amazon, Seattle; OHSU, Portland; Boeing; Detailedly, Hood River (science editing startup); NuScale, Corvallis;
Educational institutions that OSU PH majors have joined (usually with MS credential in Education or PH in addition to BS): Gold Beach High School, Linn-Benton Community College, Democracy Prep Public Schools (NYC);

National/government labs employ Physicists

The Department of Energy National Laboratories are powerhouses of science and technology whose researchers support scientists and engineers from academia, government, and industry with access to specialized equipment, world-class research facilities, and skilled technical staff. They value the technical and problem-solving skills of physicists at all levels and hire accordingly. The closest are National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) with a lab in Albany, OR (also Anchorage, AK); Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) in Richland, WA; and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho Falls, ID. There are also several in the San Francisco Bay Area. OSU Physics alums are employed permanently at many of these labs and the labs also offer student internships. The DoE National Labs are a subset of the Federally Funded Research and Development Corporations (FFRDC), public-private partnerships that conduct research for the U.S. government. Here is more information from OSU Physics (National Labs page) to guide you to some of the job application and resource sites.


Summer and academic-year internships are excellent opportunities to learn about career options.

  • The Department of Energy's Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) program, administered by the Office of Science and Technology, offers students the chance to work at DOE National Laboratoroes and gain the experience needed to transition from intern to employment. Interns work directly with National Lab scientists and engineers. Internship appointments are 10 weeks in duration for the Summer Term (May through August) or 16 weeks in duration for the Fall (August through December) and Spring (January through May) Terms. Each DOE laboratory/facility offers different research opportunities; not all DOE laboratories/facilities offer internships during the Fall and Spring Terms.
  • The National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program offers undergraduates the opportunity to join a cohort of ten or so undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Each student is associated with a specific research project, where he/she works closely with the faculty and other researchers. Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel (must be US citizen or permanent resident).

Graduate school

GradSchoolShopper is an AIP publication that presents information about physics graduate schools.
Women-friendly graduate schools is a database maintained by APS.
Society of Physics Students (SPS) grad school resources.
Slides from a workshop on "How Do I Get into Graduate School" at CUWiP 2016 co-presented by Prof. Kai-Mei Fu (UW) and Prof. Stephanie Majewski (UO).
Current graduate schools of some OSU Physics majors (Physics unless otherwise stated): Oregon State University (Physics & EECS); University of Washington; UC Irvine (Materials Science); University of Rochester; Stanford University (Mechanical Engineering); Portland State University (Education); Princeton University (Computational Biology); University of Texas at Dallas; University of Arizona (Optical Sciences); Arizona State University; Imperial College, London (Mathematics); Cedars Sinai (Medical Physics); University of Oregon; U. Oregon Masters Industrial Intern Program; University of Waterloo; Ohio State University; Washington State University;

OSU resources

OSU Career Development Center resources
Slides from a workshop on "Making the Most of Your Undergraduate Career" at CUWiP 2016 co-presented by Prof. Janet Tate (OSU) and Prof. DJ Wagner (Grove City College) aimed at beginning PH majors.
Join OSU Physics LinkedIn page - create your own LinkedIn profile and request to connect. Over 400 alumni are members.

Professional society resources for job-seekers: Resume writing, career planning, jobs listings, etc.

(Dig deeper into the links on the careers pages of the professional societies. Many of them are rich mines of information.)

AIP career resources:
Careers Toolbox about all aspects of preparing for a career.
Physics World Careers 2020 is an AIP publication with lots of information about careers.

APS career resources (and several sublinks in that menu):
Careers 20xx is an APS publication with lots of information about careers, updated annually.
Physics Today has a "Careers" issue each year.
APS has a good resume writing page.
APS internship listing.

American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) career resources.

National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) jobs listings and profiles.

National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) career resources and jobs listings.

Society of Physics Students (SPS) jobs listings, career resources, and career toolbox.

Biophysical Society (BPS) career resources.

Materials Research Society (MRS) career resources and job board.

American Astronomical Society (AAS) career resources.

American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) career resources and job description and listing.


Resources for advisors

These are some best practices documents and other resources intended for those who advise job-seekers. It may be helpful for job seekers, too, to know what we should be doing and to offer suggestions about how we can improve.
APS career advice tools.
APS/AAPT Phys21 report from J-TUPP
Careers Toolbox about all aspects of preparing for a career.