CAREER DEVELOPMENT CENTER
       DIVISION OF STUDENT AFFAIRS

A Career Guide for the Physics Major


Physicists explore and identify basic principles governing the structure and behavior of matter, the generation and transfer of energy, and the interaction of matter and energy. Some physicists use these principles in theoretical areas, such as the nature of time and the origin of the universe; others apply their physics knowledge to practical areas such as the development of advanced materials, electronic and optical devices, and medical equipment.

Physicists design and perform experiments with lasers, cyclotrons, telescopes, mass spectrometers, and other equipment. Based on observations and analysis, they attempt to discover the laws that describe the forces of nature, such as gravity, electromagnetism, and nuclear interactions. They also find ways to apply physical laws and theories to problems in nuclear energy, electronics, optics, materials, communications, aerospace technology, navigation equipment, and medical instrumentation.

Most physicists work in research and development. A significant number hold faculty positions in colleges and universities. Approximately one-fourth of all non-faculty physicists work for commercial or noncommercial research, development, and testing laboratories. Many physicists also find employment with the Federal Government, mostly in the Departments of Defense, Commerce and in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The following Interests and Aptitudes/Qualities are associated with or needed for success in the study of this major.

Interests
  • The physical/natural sciences
  • Solving problems
  • Research
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanics
Aptitudes
  • Good oral/written communication skills
  • Technical writing
  • Integrating information
  • Problem solving
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Inquisitive nature
  • Ability to use specialized equipment
  • Analytical/mathematical/statistical skills
  • Ability to think spatially
  • Knowledge of physics

CURRICULUM REQUIREMENTS


The Bachelor's degree in Physics is a 120 credit-hour professional program for students intending to proceed with graduate studies in physics, or intending to enter governmental or industrial service. Native students (freshmen) will need to satisfy 40 credits of Core Curriculum and Foreign Language coursework. Students must complete 24 credits in the Physics major (BA degree) or 42 credits for the BS degree in addition to one year of general chemistry, Calculus (through Calculus 3), and Differntial Equations. Approximately four semesters of upper division coursework is required of students who transfer in at the junior-senior level.


OCCUPATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES


The following are examples of positions often held by Physics graduates:

Physicist
Research Scientist
Educator
Engineer
Manager
Astronaut
Mathematics Instructor
Environmental Analyst
Computer Scientist
Geophysicist

Note: Some of the above professions will require advanced study or training.


FOR MORE INFORMATION


For information about choosing a career, graduate/professional school, internships or job descriptions,and for career library resources, contact:

Career Development Center
Boca Raton Campus - Student Services Building, Room 220 (SU 220)
561-297-3533

Davie Campus - Modular G
954-236-1214

Jupiter Campus - SR 110
561-799-8010

For information about choosing a major and concentration and degree requirements, contact:

Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
S&E 234
561-297-3700

Department of Physics
S&E 108
561-297-3380


The Career Guide series was developed by the Florida Atlantic University Career Development Center, Division of Student Affairs, the Freshman Academic Advising, and in cooperation with the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and the Department of Physics.
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