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Professional Development Guidebook

Begin Planning Your Career

What Do Physicists Do?

Physics training provides students with a vast set of skills that make them highly employable in many fields of work. The first step is to learn as much as you can about the possibilities that are out there. Our physicists profile library features physicists from a diversity of backgrounds who work in a variety of fields.

Zahra Hussaini

Zahra Hussaini, Site Reliability Engineer at Google

Alison Binkowski

Alison Binkowski, Policy Analyst

Markoff Johnson

Paul Markoff Johnson, Director of Product Development

You can also explore the type of education and skills that are needed to be successful in the most common career paths for physicists by looking at our Job Prospects page. Each Job Prospect profile, such as Data Science, Consulting, or Research & Development (R&D), gives a flavor of what life is like for physicists working in these fields. It also provides salary and career outlook information.

You’re the Main Character

As you explore these profiles and the types of jobs out there, you should focus on career options that are as good a fit for you as you are for those jobs. Asking yourself these questions can help:

  • Would I enjoy doing this job? Am I interested in the day-to-day work?
  • Is the work team-based or collaborative? Do I prefer working alone or as part of a group?
  • Do I like having guidance or do I like problem-solving on my own?
  • Does the salary match my expectations? Do I want to buy a house or cover any large expenses in 2 years or 5 years or 10 years?
  • Does the job offer work-life balance? How important is that to me?
  • Would I have to move somewhere specific or are multiple locations feasible?
  • Is there travel involved?
  • Are there certain places I want to avoid, e.g. defense or finance sectors, due to my values?

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Workbook ActivityWorkbook Activity

Pick up to three profiles that resonate with you and think about why. Was it the person’s story, their field of work, or something else? Would you want to pursue any of these career paths?

Workbook ActivityWorkbook Activity

Pick one Job Prospect profile that intrigued you and write down why you are interested in it. What training might be required to find a job in this field? Which skills do you already have? What additional skills would you need to build?

Workbook ActivityWorkbook Activity

First answer as many of these questions as you can. What are your top 3 takeaways? Are there any physicist profiles or career paths from the last activity that would match the criteria you have just created?

Webinette: The Career Planning Process

Learn some tips for self-assessment and planning in this clip from Peter Fiske's webinar "Putting Your Science to WORK."

Webinette: Tips for Effective Self-Evaluation

Learn tips for self-assessment in this clip from Megan Anzelc's webinar "Career Exploration Strategies and Tools"

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