Types of Degrees Physics Majors Are Getting
The following table lists how many physics graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.
|Education Level||Number of Grads|
What Physics Majors Need to Know
In an O*NET survey, physics majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.
Knowledge Areas for Physics Majors
Physics majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:
- English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Skills for Physics Majors
physics majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:
- Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Abilities for Physics Majors
Physics majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:
- Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
What Can You Do With a Physics Major?
Below is a list of occupations associated with physics:
|Job Title||Job Growth Rate||Median Salary|
|Natural Sciences Managers||9.9%||$123,860|
|Physics Postsecondary Professors||10.2%||$90,800|
|Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education||7.5%||$60,320|
Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Physics?
At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of physics majors is as follows:
|Race/Ethnicity||Number of Grads|
|Black or African American||38|
|Hispanic or Latino||149|
Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Physics. About 33.5% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:
- Saudi Arabia
How Much Do Physics Majors Make?
Master’s Degree Starting Salary
The median early-career salary of physics students with a master’s degree is $73,100 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $73,100 (25th percentile) and $73,100 (75th percentile).
It is possible that some of these people may have taken positions that were not related to physics.
Salaries According to BLS
Physics majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $64,340 to $125,280 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.
To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.
Amount of Education Required for Careers Related to Physics
Some careers associated with physics require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.
How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to physics have obtained the following education levels.
|Education Level||Percentage of Workers|
|High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED)||0.3%|
|Some College Courses||0.2%|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||0.5%|
|Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master.||6.3%|
|Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level.||1.4%|
Online Physics Programs
In 2018-2019, 952 schools offered a physics program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.
|Degree Level||Colleges Offering Programs||Colleges Offering Online Classes|
|Certificate (Less Than 1 Year)||15||0|
|Certificate (1-2 years)||3||0|
|Certificate (2-4 Years)||1||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Research)||217||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice)||0||0|
|Doctor’s Degree (Other)||0||0|
Is a Degree in Physics Worth It?
The median salary for a physics grad is $103,830 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.
This is 160% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,278,600 after 20 years!
Majors Related to Physics
You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to physics.
|Major||Number of Grads|
|Geological & Earth Sciences||9,522|
|General Physical Sciences||4,527|
|Astronomy & Astrophysics||1,168|
|Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology||1,072|
|Other Physical Science||503|
- College Factual
- College Scorecard
- National Center for Education Statistics
- O*NET Online
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers First Quarter 2020
- Image Credit: By A. T. Service under License
More about our data sources and methodologies.