What can I do with a degree in Physics?
Through their Physics degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferrable to a range of careers, including:
- Problem solving
- Ability to communicate orally and in writing
- Mathematical and computer skills
- Capacity to think creatively, logically and quantitatively
- Co-operation, teamwork and leadership
- Innovation and imagination
- Planning and organisation skills.
Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom through work and other experiences also exist and can deepen your skills set and employability. Work and other experiences can also support and inform learning and skill development in the classroom.
Many of our graduates are employed as physicists and can be found at Crown Research Institutes, the National Radiation Laboratory, medical physics departments of hospitals, universities and the Meteorological Service among many others.
Some physics graduates are not employed as scientists- their analytical skills, numeracy and all-round thinking ability are in demand in other industries. Some are snapped up by the IT and electronics industries. Those same skills are equally valued by merchant banks, stock brokers and other financial companies, as well as by the armed services, police and aerospace industries (including airlines like Air New Zealand). School teaching, journalism and science communication also need people with physics training.
UC’s Guide to Job Hunting offers a variety of career resources including employer information.
For more information about UC student and graduate opportunities, go to UC CareerHub
The potential jobs available to qualified physicists are many and varied. Employers see physics graduates as people with the technical abilities and transferrable skills to work through demanding problems in almost any profession.
Some of the jobs listed may require further study at postgraduate level. Postgraduate study can contribute to your employability. It enables you to extend your knowledge and skills, indicates your motivation and ability to persevere at a high level academically and can make you more competitive in the job market. Postgraduate study may be a prerequisite for certain jobs.
- Laboratory or field
- Tests industrial or consumer products for quality and safety standards
- Measures and analyses experimental data
- Produces research reports
- Medical physics
- Looks after scientific and technical aspects of radiation to treat cancer or diagnose disease
- Telecommunications or
- Designs innovative hardware and/or software systems for industry
- Patent examiner:
- Works using scientific knowledge
- Calculates budgets and production costs, and prepares funding or patent applications
- Reviews patent applications
- Secondary school teacher
- Prepares and delivers instructional activities and lessons in specialised subjects
- Observes and evaluates performance in order to provide feedback
- Develops and marks tests and assessments
- Interprets atmospheric information and analyses weather data
- Prepares weather forecasts and weather alerts
- Financial investment
- Analyses financial information relating to specific companies
- Keeps up to date with market developments
- Writes research reports and investment ideas for clients
Entrepreneurship and innovation are increasingly becoming an important part of the world of work and should be considered as a career option. For more information about UC student innovation & entrepreneurship, related internships, scholarships, courses and activities go to Careers, Internships & Employment
For further information on job titles, please see the latest UC Graduate Destinations Survey (www.canterbury.ac.nz/careers)
As they progress in their studies and into a career, our students and graduates often join professional bodies specific to their area of interest. These organisations offer graduates the opportunity to network and collaborate with others within the same community. Other relevant organisations are also listed.
- Association for Women in the Sciences, New Zealand
- New Zealand Institute of Physics
- Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand
- The Royal Society of New Zealand
- Institute of Physics
Social media networks, such as LinkedIn (including LinkedIn groups), Facebook, and Twitter can provide avenues for students and graduates to keep up-to-date with current industry knowledge and 'best practice', networking opportunities, industry-related events and job vacancies.
It is possible to study at postgraduate and graduate level in subjects both directly and indirectly related to your degree. For a list of postgraduate and graduate study options, go to Courses, Subjects and Qualifications
There is also a new programme for graduate degrees in Medical Physics. This additional study can impact on the entry level of employment in industry.
Some graduates do additional training in for example Teaching, Library, Journalism, Management or Information Technology. Postgraduate study can also lead to an academic career pathway in teaching and research.
Carefully consider your motivation for study, how it fits in with your long-term career plans and whether it is likely to enhance your employment prospects.