Physicist Zin Tun (NRC - Neutron Program for Materials Research) and
electrochemist Jamie Noel (University of Western Ontario) prepare to
launch a new neutron scattering experiment for in-situ tracking of the
oxidation reaction within the first 10 nanometers of a titanium surface.
Robert Henderson inspects the TRIUMF optically-pumped polarised 3He
target used for intermediate energy proton scattering experiments.
The glass target cell is contained in an oven at the center of a pair
of Helmholz coils that provide the magnetic holding field which
determines the polarisation axis. A second, smaller pair of coils
(seen close to the oven) is used to measure the target polarisation.
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.
The most comprehensive recent study of employment prospects for Canadian Physics Graduates was the Highly Qualified Personnel Study 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 form the AIP can be found here. Their 1998 follow-up of 1997 graduates shows:
that of the 1997 B.Sc. graduates in Physics, 51% went on to graduate work and only 3% were unemployed. 70% of those who were employed were working in industry.
that only 2% of 1997 Ph.D. graduates were unemployed.
Information on Canadian Job prospects can also be found at Job Futures. This site contains information from surveys of post-secondary graduates two and five years after graduation and assessments of employment outlooks. In the Outlooks by Field of Study section, categories of interest to physics students include U750 and M750. This source anticipates good employment prospects for 2004 physics graduates. Some care should be exercised in interpreting earnings statistics on these pages since it is not clear how the authors have categorized graduates who are continuing to pursue higher degrees.