The American Institute of Physics has published a comprehensive job hunting and career preparation guide entitled Landing Your First Job: A Guide for Physics Students. The book provides physics students with the skills they need to make their way in today's job market.
This book, written by Dr. John Ridgen, is indispensable for all students of physics. The volume contains information about the job search, cover letters, resume writing, interview preparation, and salary negotiation. It also includes the latest employment statistics and vignettes of physicists in the workplace.
A comprehensive study of employment prospects for Canadian Physics Graduates (the Highly Qualified Personnel Study) was conducted by members of the CAP as part of a review of Canadian Academic Physics. This study was based on 945 responses from individuals who obtained their B.Sc. in Physics between 1985 and 1996. Of these, roughly 25% had gone on to complete a M.Sc. as their highest degree and 25% had gone on to complete a Ph.D. Among the findings of this study are:
The level of unemployment within this group was 2-3% with unemployment of those with graduate degrees being less than 1%
Physics graduates can find employment in a wide range of areas. For the group covered by the survey, who were relatively recent graduates, the distribution was:
Research and Development - 25.8%
Teaching - 24.1%
Computing - 12.2%
Health Sciences - 6.2%
Management and administration - 4.6%
Product Development - 4.0%
Consulting - 4.0%
Sales and Marketing - 3.4%
Other - 15.8%
Across the entire group, 52% said that they used their physics background directly and a further 41% said that they used the skills and modes of thought obtained from their education in Physics. Of those with graduate degrees, only 3% felt that their education in Physics was not relevant to their employment.
This study concluded that physics graduates experience very low levels of unemployment at least partially due to the many career paths open to them both in traditional physics areas and beyond.
The American Institute of Physics carries out similar surveys of US graduates. Summaries of employment data and information on career paths for physicists from the AIP can be found here.