Types of Degrees Physics Majors Are Getting
The following table lists how many physics graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.
|Education Level||Number of Grads|
What Physics Majors Need to Know
O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to physics and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.
Knowledge Areas for Physics Majors
This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:
- English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Skills for Physics Majors
When studying physics, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:
- Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Abilities for Physics Majors
Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a physics student include the following:
- Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
What Can You Do With a Physics Major?
People with a physics degree often go into the following careers:
|Job Title||Job Growth Rate||Median Salary|
|Natural Sciences Managers||9.9%||$123,860|
|Physics Postsecondary Professors||10.2%||$90,800|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||7.5%||$60,320|
Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics?
At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of physics majors is as follows:
|Race/Ethnicity||Number of Grads|
|Black or African American||223|
|Hispanic or Latino||833|
Physics appeals to people across the globe. About 8.8% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:
- Saudi Arabia
How Much Do Physics Majors Make?
Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary
The median early-career salary of physics students with a bachelor’s degree is $38,300 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $33,000 (25th percentile) and $43,100 (75th percentile).
Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a physics degree.
Salaries According to BLS
Average salaries range from $64,340 to $125,280 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to physics. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.
To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.
Amount of Education Required for Careers Related to Physics
Some careers associated with physics require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.
Find out what the typical degree level is for physics careers below.
|Education Level||Percentage of Workers|
|High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED)||0.3%|
|Some College Courses||0.2%|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||0.5%|
|Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master.||6.3%|
|Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level.||1.4%|
Online Physics Programs
In the 2017-2018 academic year, 932 schools offered some type of physics program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.
|Degree Level||Colleges Offering Programs||Colleges Offering Online Classes|
|Certificate (Less Than 1 Year)||5||0|
|Certificate (1-2 years)||2||0|
|Certificate (2-4 Years)||1||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Research)||214||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice)||0||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Other)||0||0|
Is a Degree in Physics Worth It?
The median salary for a physics grad is $103,830 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.
This is 160% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,278,600 after 20 years!
Majors Related to Physics
You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to physics.
|Major||Number of Grads|
|Geological & Earth Sciences||9,816|
|General Physical Sciences||4,387|
|Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology||1,188|
|Astronomy & Astrophysics||1,062|
|Other Physical Science||513|
- College Factual
- College Scorecard
- National Center for Education Statistics
- O*NET Online
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers First Quarter 2020
- Image Credit: By A. T. Service under License
More about our data sources and methodologies.
Featured Physical Sciences Schools
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