When those of us crazy enough to pass-up more lucrative, less demanding career paths entered graduate school most of thought we'd get our PhD's, do a post-doc or two, and then become a tenure-track professor somewhere. At some point most of us realized that most of us were not going to end up as professors at large research universities, but for me at least a post-doc seemed like a necessary step in the whatever career path I envisioned. It turns out that piece of the Physics Career Path™ isn't as ironclad as I once thought. From the excellent folks at the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics, below is the break-down of what those who earned PhD's in 2007 and 2008 were doing one year later.
Here's the trends over the past 30 years for all physics PhD's.
And here is the breakdown by sub-field.