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!

Kenny Jensen

Kenny Jensen - Control Systems Engineer for Wind Energy Startup

Though Kenny's research background was in carbon nanotubes, he has pursued his present career track with conviction. "Energy will be one of the great problems facing humanity in the 21st century, and physicists, with their strong technical background and physical intuition, are especially well positioned to attack this problem, " he says.  "A solid understanding of fluid dynamics is critical for anyone in the wind power industry."

What's more, Kenny feels that his Physics background helped him to teach himself the skills which were pertinent to his job. "I actually never took a fluid dynamics course. However, the math used is essentially the same as that for E&M, so it was easy to pick up."  

Kenny says he chose Physics because it was a natural fit for him, and allows him to use his skills to create and innovate. "At heart, I'm an inventor, " he says. "I like to create new and useful things. But to create truly new inventions (e.g. transistor, laser, etc...), you need to understand how and why things work down to the last detail, which requires physics."