Careers in Physics

woman and man medical physics

Physics graduates get all sorts of jobs — a survey of former UC students has provided us with a snapshot of the broad range of industries our graduates work in.

  • Laboratory or field technician
  • Medical physics registrar
  • Telecommunications or software engineer
  • Patent examiner
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Meteorologist
  • Financial investment analyst

Entrepreneurship and innovation are also represented in career surveys as graduates apply their skills in creating their own pathways.

The possibilities are truly endless, as captured in the figure below, which is taken from a report from the UK Institute of Physics.

Numbers of respondents in employment one year after graduation by employment sector 

PHYS_CAREERS_UK Institute Physics stats

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
  • Cooperation, 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.

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.

This information is aimed at prospective and current students and in particular students who intend to leave University with a Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Science with Honours.

Postgraduate study may be a prerequisite for some jobs. 

Physics skills are valued in industries such as:

  • IT, computing and electronics
  • Banking and finance
  • The armed services and police
  • Aerospace and aeronautics (including airlines)
  • School teaching
  • Geotechnical
  • Telecommunications
  • Agribusiness
  • Energy
  • Journalism and publishing.

Some recent UC alumni have done postgraduate study or postdoctoral research at universities around the world including China, Germany, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Pakistan and the USA.

Physicists can be found at Crown Research Institutes, the National Radiation Laboratory, medical physics departments of hospitals, universities and the Meteorological Service among many others.

See the Careers Physics brochure for more details.

A medical physicist applies scientific knowledge and technological skills to help prevent, diagnose and treat many kinds of diseases and health conditions. They are most often clinical scientists who play a pivotal role in planning and implementing patient treatment programmes. A medical physicist is typically a member of a multi-disciplinary team and may be involved in several activities relating to diagnosis and/or treatment in radiology, nuclear medicine or radiation therapy.

What industries are Medical Physics graduates found in?

Our graduates are employed by hospitals in various departments including radiation oncology, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine. They are involved in research and development of new devices and technology in both industrial and academic environments. They also help to regulate the safe use of medical technology, including radiation safety.

Helpful links for Medical Physics jobs

Through their Astronomy degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferrable to a range of careers, including:

  • Mathematical and computer competencies
  • Creative, logical and quantitative thinking
  • Problem solving involving advanced technology, data analysis and modelling
  • Innovation and imagination
  • Oral and written communication
  • Cooperation, teamwork and leadership
  • Observation and persistence

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.

What industries are Astronomy graduates found in?

Astronomy graduates may follow traditional paths and work in astronomy either as a scientist, technician, research assistant, engineer, astronomer, patent agent, technical author or even manager at an observatory or in an institute. However, many Astronomy graduates move into other fields, particularly computing and information technology, management, and science communication or media work. Other astronomy graduates may move overseas to pursue careers as astronomers. With some additional study graduates can become meteorologists, geophysicists, material technologists or medical physicists.

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