Careers in Physics

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics or Engineering Physics, students can pursue careers in research and development, science, engineering, education, medicine, law, business, and the military. Current students can take advantage of the many research and internship opportunities available to help prepare them for the career of their choice. 

This page covers the following (click on the link to be taken to that section):

Internships
Full Time Employment Options
Graduate School Information
What to do if you need a reference

Internships

Internship opportunities are available to Physics and Engineering Physics majors.  To get started on your internship search, please visit contact Career Services. Students in our program have recently completed internship programs at the following companies:

  • Accenture
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Ajax Tocco Magnethermic
  • Battelle
  • Boeing
  • CAR Technologies, LLC
  • Center for Automotive Research
  • Cisco Systems
  • Cook Nuclear Plant
  • Electroscience Laboratory
  • Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station
  • General Electric Aviation
  • Great American Financial Resources
  • Honda Research and Development Americas, Inc.
  • IBM
  • Idaho National Laboratory
  • ITT Industries
  • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Meyer Sound, Inc.
  • Microsoft
  • NASA
  • Nationwide Financial
  • Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems
  • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
     

Full Time Employment

Over 40% of our students join the workforce after graduating with a bachelor's degree.  Follow the below tips for a successful job search and feel free to contact a physics advisor for additional guidance. 

1. Know your Options
It's important that you understand the career options available to you as a physics major.  Common job titles for physics and engineering physics bachelor's degree recipients include:

  • Accelerator Operator
  • Applications Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • Design Engineer
  • High School Physics Teacher
  • IT Consultant
  • Lab Technician
  • Laser Engineer
  • Optical Engineer
  • Research Associate
  • Software Developer
  • Systems Analyst
  • Technical Specialist
  • Web Developer

The Society of Physics Students website has several resources regarding career opportunities with a physics degree. This includes a list of common paths taken by physics majors, tips for finding an internship, job searching strategies, and profiles of physicists in various careers. We think you'll find it helpful.  

2. Expand your Skills
When applying for a job, you want to make sure you possess all (or most) of the skills the employer is looking for.  You can develop new skills and strengthen current ones by getting involved in research, internships, student organizations, or a project team like Buckeye Bullet.  Additionally, taking courses like Technical Writing (English 3305) or Communication 2110 (Principles of Effective Public Speaking) will help you develop strong communication skills that employers often desire.

3. Ask for Assistance

  • Network - When job hunting, it's appropriate to ask your connections (research advisor, boss, professor, student group leader, etc.) if they know anyone in the field you are interested in working.
  • Use Career Services for assistance writing your resume, advice regarding interviews, tips for having a positive experience at career fairs, and more.
  • Take advantage of OSU's Career Counseling Services, especially if you are unsure which career path you'd like to take.

4. Contact Employers
When you're ready to start your job search, it's helpful to view a list of companies that hire physicists. This will help you to both determine who to talk to at career fairs and nail down a more specific career plan. We recommend starting this process no later than September of your senior year.  For a description of ~60 companies that frequently hire physics and engineering physics majors, please visit our employment information page. The American Institute of Physics (AIP) has a list of physics employers by state.

It is highly recommended that students looking for internship and full-time job positions attend career fairs hosted by career services. Recommended career fairs for physics and engineering physics majors are:

A list of all OSU career and job fairs for the 2018-2019 academic year is available at careers.osu.edu/posts/documents/2018-2019-career-fairs.pdf

Graduate School

Roughly 45% of graduates of the Physics and Engineering Physics programs go on to graduate school to pursue a Master's degree or Ph.D. in Physics, Math, Engineering, or Astronomy.  Information pertaining to the Physics GRE can be found on the Physics GRE Prep webpage. Recent graduates have been accepted to graduate school at the following universities:

  • Cornell University
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Princeton University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Stanford University
  • Texas A&M
  • University of California - Los Angeles
  • University of California - Riverside
  • University of California - Santa Barbara
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Hawaii
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Rochester
  • Yale University
     

If you need to use someone as a reference

At some point in your college career, you will most likely need to use someone as a reference.  Before you begin the process of seeking references, read over the information below so you know how to get started.  And best of luck with your scholarship, internship, or whatever you're applying to!

  1. Whoever you use as a reference should be someone you know in a professional setting who can write in detail about your strengths, personality, and accomplishments. This allows committees to learn more about you beyond what they can see by looking at your transcript.
  2. Ideally, your reference (or letter writer) will be a professor who's taught one of your courses, a faculty or staff member supervising your research, a manager or boss of a job you've had, a supervisor of an internship or co-op you've completed, or a faculty or staff member who supervised a student organization in which you were actively involved.
  3. Your reference should know you well enough to be able to:
    • Use adjectives like hard-working, reliable, dedicated, independent, enthusiatic, etc. to describe you.
    • Write about your ability to work independently as well as in a team (if applicable)
    • List specific, positive examples of your achievements (ie: "Sarah's group was falling behind, so she made an organized calendar, asked everyone to stick to it, and the group ended up having the best project out of the entire class.  This shows that Sarah is organized, dedicated, and is a team leader").
    • It's helpful (but not necessary) if your reference knows you well enough to be able to talk about your career and academic goals.
  4. Tips to keep in mind:
    • Make sure you ask permission to use someone as a reference. Students are not entitled to simply use anyone they want as a reference.  A good place to start is "I am in need of a letter of recommendation for (fill in the blank).  Would you feel confortable giving me a recommendation?  If so, I will provide you with additional information".
    • Provide all necessary information, including the name of the program you're applying to, the deadline, and any necessary forms your reference needs to complete.  If your reference needs to mail a letter, be sure to provide a stamped envelope.  It can be helpful if you could provide a resume to your reference so they have all the information they need to write a strong letter for you.  In other words, make it as easy for your reference as possible.
    • Ask sooner rather than later.  It's polite to allow your reference at least 4 weeks to write your letter or complete an online form before the deadline. 
    • Letters of recommendation are not for your eyes.  Your letter writer will send the letter directly to the committee.
    • Provide gentle reminders.  Check in with your reference a week before the deadline.  Try not to appear pushy or demanding.
    • Say "thank you".  Strong letters of recommendation can take a long time to write, so make sure your reference knows you appreciate the time that he or she put in to helping you.  Also, once you hear about your application, let your reference know how it went!
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