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!

Ron Toland

Ron Toland - Junior Programmer

Ron grew up in West Texas, and, according to him, spent too much time playing video games, reading up on particle physics, and dreaming of going into space to be happy doing anything non-technical as an adult.  So it's ironic that he ended up where he is today!

"I originally got into physics because I decided I wanted to work for NASA. I'd just finished my philosophy degree, but instead of going on to graduate school, I decided I wanted to join the technical world."  Since graduation with a BS in Physics in 2001, Ron first worked as an optical engineer at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and after spending two years working as a writer and producer in the games industry, he eventually began writing his own programs and decided to pursue programming full time.

Ron says that his Physics training has helped him in every job he's had since graduating.  "As an optical engineer, " he says, "physics helped me grasp the fundamentals of any new technology I came across, and gave me the background I needed to invent technologies of my own. As a programmer, " he adds, "my physics training helps me design rigorous tests for the code I write,  as well as giving me the understanding needed for some of the mathematical algorithms I need to use."