Career options for Physics researchers
Find out about the different career options available if you're undertaking research in Physics.
Broadly speaking, your options are the same as those for researchers in other disciplines; see the career options for researchers page for more details. The aim of this page is to look at some career options that are may be suitable for Physics researchers. One important question to ask yourself is the extent to which you want to use your subject in any future career moves. It's entirely your choice - you will have acquired and developed many skills during your time as a Physics researcher which are complementary to the scientific and technical skills you might think define your career choice.
Options with Physics
If you'd like to continue using your Physics and would like some ideas as to how, see details of what previous Bath Physics doctoral graduates have gone on to do.
This covers the most obvious choices (academic, commercial and public sector physics jobs) but there are many other options.
You might want to continue in science as a whole, but leave the lab behind. There are many occupations in which your PhD would be valuable, including medical physics, meteorology, data science, artificial intelligence, communications engineer, science communication, operational researcher, patent attorney, regulatory affairs, scientific market analyst, software engineer, science strategy and policy, scientific publishing or technical writing. Teaching can also be an attractive option.
To find out more about what these jobs involve, check out the 'Information Sources' section below.
Options outside of your subject
If, having got to this stage, you're not sure that you want to use your Physics any more, don't despair! You have many skills and experiences that are highly valuable to employers and you can choose from the huge range of graduate jobs on offer, from structured training with large financial services firms to analysing policy for governmental departments. The key is to think of the skills you have and enjoy using and explore occupations that use them to suggest possible alternatives. For information on different types of jobs, explore the job profiles on Prospects.ac.uk.
One sector that particularly welcomes Physics PhDs is the finance sector. Investment banks, actuarial firms, accountants and professional services organisations value your numerical and problem-solving skills highly. Some may have slightly different recruitment pathways for PhD graduates so it is worthwhile checking on company websites. The role of quantitative analyst, which usually requires a PhD in a quantitative subject, involves using research and analytical skills to design financial models used in trading and assessing financial risk. Quantitative analysts are employed in financial institutions including banks, hedge funds and investment banks. For more information on this role, view the Finance Train website and the Banking Blog on The Guardian website
Some key resources to help you find out more about career options for physicists:
- To find out more about academic career pathways in Physics, see the career options page and talk to academics in your department.
- See the Options with Physics page on Prospects.ac.uk.
- You can find science-related sector and employer information in the Resources tab in MyFuture.
- The Institute of Physics website has an excellent careers section, including a specific section for researchers. Includes career profiles and advice on CV writing.
- Alternative careers in science (Careers Service publication).
- Careers in bio-sciences & pharmaceuticals (Careers Service publication).
- Alternative careers in healthcare (Careers Service publication)
- Careers in scientific analysis and R&D (Careers Service publication).
- The University of Kent Careers service has a useful guide to physics-related employment.
- Working in Science Policy- blog post from Queen Mary Researchers blog with some useful links and resources.
- Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) - has information and advice on how to become a science writer.
- Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC) - provides vacancy site for members, and produces a careers guide on getting into the industry.
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Medical PR Association (Stempra) - offers members access to a network of over 500 science PR, comms and media professionals for advice, tips, discussions, training and networking events.
- Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) - ethical Careers in Science and Technology. Has a useful directory of employers.
Where to look for jobs in Physics
See the vacancies page for academic, research and research-related jobs.
- MyFuture - look at the vacancies relevant to your subject area and also search by using the 'For PhD Students' and 'For Postdoctoral Researchers' categories. Use the 'organisations' tab to identify potential employers that you may want to work for or could approach speculatively.
- Applied Industrial Research Trading Organisations (AIRTO) - has a directory of industrial research organisations.
- UK Science Park Associations (UKSPA) - use to identify and research industrial research organisations. Consider speculative approaches, particularly to smaller firms and firms that work in areas that are closely related to your research area.
- Nature Careers - has a huge range of research and scientific vacancies.
- BrightRecruits - jobs website of the Institute of Physics (IOP).
- NHS Scientist Training Programme - for medical Physics.
- CERN Courier - lists jobs in Physics and Engineering.
- Earthworks - environmental and geotechnical jobs.
- NewScientist - can be useful for Physics jobs, especially if you want to move away from lab-based Physics.
- Computer Weekly - for computer science jobs.
- Scientific Recruitment Agencies - comprehensive list provided by the University of Kent.
- AAAS ScienceCareers - the 'Find Jobs' section includes employer profiles as well as job adverts.
- Gradcracker - has large number of graduate vacancies in science and engineering.
- For jobs in the public sector, check out Civil Service Jobs. You may also be interested in the Science and Engineering Stream of the Civil Service Fast Stream.
- For jobs and work experience in science communication, it's well worth joining the psci-com mailing list. Also check out the jobs board of the British Science Association (BSA). Other vacancy and information sites for science communication can be found in the University of Oxford Guide to Science Alternatives.
- For jobs in scientific publishing, try NewScientist and Guardian Jobs. Atwood Tate is a recruitment agency which often advertises scientific and medical publishing roles.
- For jobs in science policy, try NewScientist and Guardian Jobs. The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) publish some vacancies on their website.