American Physical Society
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Advice for Parents of Children that like Physics and Physical Science

If your child likes to ask why, takes things apart to figure out how they work and is excited about doing experiments in their physics and physical science classes, they may make great physicists. Of course, you might be wondering how they should prepare to become a physicist and exactly what they will for a living, once they become a physicist. The answer is that they can do a wide variety of things as a physicist. Some physicists pursue careers in medicine, others pursue careers in wind or solar energy technology development. Some physicists pursue careers in communications technology and others pursue careers as consultants to either the government or corporations. There are many options, but most of these options are hard for students to notice because, as you may have noticed, the word physics seldom appears in the career path.

So how does your student learn about the options? This website is a good place to start. They can browse through a library of Profiles of Physicists and see specific examples of how others have used college degrees in Physics to pursue exciting and diverse career paths. They can learn a bit about the various specialty areas in physics (astronomy, nuclear, materials, etc) by browsing the Physics Topics section. They can learn what companies have hired physicists with bachelors degrees in the past few years in the Physicist Employers section. When they want to get down to practical details of what types of salaries they can earn as a physicist, they can check out the Physics Career Facts section. They may also want to know how to prepare for their career and how to finance their education. The answers to these questions are found in the Information for Students section. Of course, you can learn more by browsing these sections, too!

After looking through what you find here, there are bound to be questions that you wish you could ask a real physicist, so how can you find someone to answer these questions? Check out the Physics Educational Institutions section. There are over 750 colleges and universities that grant degrees in Physics and there is bound to be one close to you. Each one of these programs employs physicists that would be happy to answer your questions and talk to your student about physics and career paths for Physicists!

Alison Binkowski

Alison Binkowski - Health Policy Analyst

Alison Binkowski has had what many people would consider a "non-traditional" Physics career.  Her passion always drew her towards international health care issues, and some of her personal experiences helped form her concern:  "I thought I wanted to work in...international health, " she says,  "but after a summer in Senegal and Mali with the UN where I ended up being hospitalized in Mali for a week, I became more cognizant of the advantages of working on domestic health issues."

Alison believes that her background in Physics and Computer Science has served her well throughout her work.  "Many fields--including international development and health policy--need more people with strong analytic backgrounds."  For this reason, her training was considered an asset by her academic institutions.  "My analytic training was noted as a primary reason why I was offered a partial academic scholarship in graduate school, and what helped me stand out from other candidates to get my current job at the GAO."

Alison says that she was drawn to Physics because she "was always interested in how the world worked: from why objects fall to what was at the "edge" of the universe. I also found the fact that phenomena could be captured and explained by mathematical formulas elegant, appealing, and even a bit spiritual."