What Physicists Do
A degree in physics will prepare you for a career spent studying the big questions, working at a national lab or in a university. But most physicists actually spend their time on projects that are closer to every day life. They work for both small and large companies, at the frontier of the business that the company is involved with. This is because physicists understand fundamental limitations, creative opportunities, and interdisciplinary connections like no other professionals. They are hired for their superior problem-solving abilities and quantitative reasoning skills. They have a can-do attitude that employers value.
Some areas that physicists work in:
Wind farmCareer opportunities involving the science and engineering of non-hydrocarbon energy sources are destined to grow, as the world wrestles with decreasing conventional supplies and global warming caused by carbon emissions.
Physicists are at the center of emerging technologies such as solar photovolatic systems, wind turbine energy conversion, and fuel cell engineering. The Mines Department of Physics is well connected to these fields through the Renewable Energy Materials Science and Engineering Center, and also has strong affiliations with the nearby National Renewable Energy Laboratory. A degree in Engineering Physics from Mines is a great stepping stone to a green career.
Patient undergoing CT scanMedical science is a sophisticated area where the most advanced diagnostic and treatment methods are being developed and applied. Physicists work in labs where techniques like high-field nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, electrical impedance tomography, and dual energy x-ray absoptiometry are employed to provide precise information that aids medical decisions.
Physicists also develop methods for treatment of disease, such as high-intensity focused ultrasonics, interventional radiology, and proton beam irradiation. In all of these ways, physicists use their understanding of basic processes to push the technology toward more effective patient service.
Satellite above EarthAll types of Earth-orbiting satellites have been developed by physicists. GPS systems derive their accuracy from not only precise timing instrumentation, but also an application of special and general relativity. Imaging and weather satellites include sensors and telemetry hardware that were designed in labs where physicists were working.
In the future, there will continue to be many challenging and interesting job opportunities in space and planetary science. Physics is the credential that will get you in the door.
More Information About Physics Jobs and Opportunities
- Careers Using Physics: What physicists do and where they work
- Physics in Your Future: Opportunities for women in physics
- Profiles in Versatility: People in Physics
- Jobs and Careers in Physics: Information about jobs, job listings, and career guidance
- Enterprise: Manifestations of physics in the private sector
- Careers in Biophysics: The fascinating world at the crossroads of biology and physics
- Employment and salary information for people with physics degrees
- Planning for graduate students in physics