American Physical Society
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Information for College Educators

Advising Undergraduates about Careers Paths for Physicists:

Because physics is only in the job title for educators and a small number of professional careers that Physicists often have, students often wonder what they will do if they choose to major in Physics. As their mentors and role models, physics faculty members have the opportunity to share the broad range of possibilities with them. Here are a few suggestions for ways in which you can help your students learn more about career paths for physicists.

  • Highlight exciting physics developments and the people behind them by displaying the APS Physics InSight slideshow in your department
  • Inform your current majors and potential majors about the exciting options available to them by profiling your alumni on your website and in informational brochures
  • Help other faculty members in your department obtain the information they need to advise students that want to follow career paths that are different than a faculty career track. The National Academies Press publication "ADVISER, TEACHER, ROLE MODEL, FRIEND: ON BEING A MENTOR TO STUDENTS IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING" is a good way to get started
  • Create a section on your website about physics careers and including links to the following resources
  • Organize departmental seminars that provide relevant information for the students
    • Invite speakers from non-academic fields to present. The APS Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics speaker list may provide ideas for individuals to invite
    • Include a seminar on career paths for physicists. Here is a sample presentation one of your department members can give. The APS Committee on Careers and Professional Development also offers travel grants to support bringing in a speaker to address this topic
    • Invite your campus careers services staff to present at a departmental seminar on ways to find internships and jobs in the local area
    • Invite alumni with non-academic careers to give presentations and hold informal discussions with your students about their career path
    • Invite someone from a masters-level physics program to give a seminar and talk about the difference in career and educational paths for PhD physicists vs. MS physicists
    • Include a seminar on physics educator career paths, both for students interested in teaching in K-12 education and those interested in post-secondary education

Featured Resource


Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend
This guide offers helpful advice on how teachers, administrators, and career advisers in science and engineering can become better mentors to their students. It starts with the premise that a successful mentor guides students in a variety of ways: by helping them get the most from their educational experience, by introducing them to and making them comfortable with a specific disciplinary culture, and by offering assistance with the search for suitable employment.