Friday, September 18, 2009

Physics Pays (at Least with a Bachelor's)

The American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center is far and away the best source for career-related data for physicists. Their latest data release is out and here's the punchline (in graphical form):
That's right - physicists beat out the mathematicians! Apparently statistical mechanics is more commercially viable than real analysis. Who would have guessed?

The bottom line is that physics is potentially one of the highest paying Bachelors' degrees that one can earn. Couple that high pay with the sheer joy of learning quantum mechanics and you've got one awesome major.


  1. Well said. Part of the reason is that typically as a physics major you have to become very well versed in programming, in shop/lab techniques, in problem solving, you typically have TAed classes, you're expert in applied mathematics, and so on.

    It really is a fantastic major plus if you show up with the typical job with a physics degree they know you're a high achiever.

  2. Clark,

    Additionally, that range of skills you mentioned would, in my mind, account for the wide range in starting salaries. If you get a computer science degree you're probably going to be a programmer of one sort or another, but physics majors end up as everything from applied mathematicians to programmers to engineers. Not only does physics pay well, it also provides a lot of options.

  3. Yes, programming is a big part of it but I agree physics gives you a lot of options.

    Many physicists become very good at math, programing, problem solving in general, data analysis, statistics, and even engineering in many cases. It seems like if you can make it through a physics program you have a very large skill set indeed very applicable in many fields.

    But Nick, lets not forget: Real analysis is awesome. (Or at least topology is.)

  4. I do have a degree in chemical engineering, that I did pass in Great Britain and Germany, but it was a difficult time, because the university was corrupted (as there is some in France) ; and there was quite a lot of Muslims teachers, so in order to be at the top it was better to be Muslim (French Muslims which were in the bottom part in France did go to the top, at my place for example). Even in town Pakistani children were throwing stones on students (British or French, it was the intifada and a bit Al Qaida). Finally there is less and less jobs in this domain if you do not want to go in China, here the crisis of jobs did begin a long time ago, now others are joining.


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