Career Planning

Careers for physicists

A degree in physics is an excellent foundation for a wide variety of careers. The analytical problem solving skills and focus on fundamental issues that are the core of our discipline are highly valued by employers and graduate programs. Salary surveys show that Physics Bachelor’s degree holders have among the highest earnings of any major. A physics major is also a great way to prepare for professions such as medicine and law; physics majors are among the top scorers on the MCAT and LSAT tests required for entrance to these professional schools.  Physics or applied physics also give an excellent preparation for graduate work or a career in engineering or programming.

Learn more about what types of careers our UCI graduate and undergraduate alumni have chosen. Many undergraduate alumni report careers in industry, including industry management and executives. Industry careers are usually work at tech, engineering, or scientific companies. We also have alumni who teach high school. Many alumni also pursue graduate school and continue on to do university research and become faculty or work in government laboratories. You can also read descriptions of career paths for physics and applied physics majors from the American Physical Society. You can also read specifically about the kinds of jobs you can get in the private sector after getting a Physics Bachelor's degree. You can also find national employment statistics for physics graduates compiled by the American Physical Society, including job descriptions, skills used, job satisfaction, and salary ranges. 


UCI career center

As a UCI student, you have a number of resources available to you to help with job and internship preparation. You can make an appointment with a career counselor or attend workshops to draft or receive feedback on your resume, practice with mock interviews, create a LinkedIn profile, or get a professional photograph taken. Contact our Physical Sciences Career Educator for more information, and see the resources on the Physical Sciences Career page.


Profiles of physicists

The American Physical Society and The Society of Physics Students have highlighted the careers of individual physics graduates so you can learn more about the wide range of opportunities you have as a physics major. 


Graduate school

After earning a Bachelor's degree in physics at UCI, our students have pursued graduate degrees in many different fields such as physics, engineering, and law. Graduate study can prepare students for careers not only in academia, but also in various industries. Learn more about applying to graduate school in physics with these resources from the American Association of Physics Teachers or the Grad School Shopper. You can also read about the graduate programs in physics at UCI.

Students interested in graduate school in physics, astrophysics, or related fields should check out our Applying to Graduate School page. There you'll find a grad school handbook with lots of good advice on how to choose where to apply, how to write a strong application, and more.


Industry mentoring
The Physical Sciences Undergraduate Mentoring Program (PSUM) connects current undergraduate students with business and science professionals. The goal is to expose students to career and networking opportunities. Mentors coach students in career and academic decisions.


Job listings

  • The American Physical Society (APS) is one of the largest organization that is comprised of physicists, with over 53,000 members worldwide. The APS is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to “advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities”. One of the services they provide is a search function for future physicists to look for employment after graduation.
  • Physics Today is a publication of the American Institute of Physics that provides readers with the most up-to-date research, news, and technological advancements in the scientific world. Just like the American Physical Society, Physics Today provides its users with a search function to find jobs specifically for physics majors.
  • The American Association of Physics Teachers is a non-profit organization created in 1930 to improve physics education. They provide a search function for those who wish to join in the world of physics education. 
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Internship Program allows students to engage in work-study employment opportunities in relevant science, engineering and administrative fields. They offer a summer program or a co-op program during a quarter of the academic year.