Why Study Physics?
you have a passion for understanding how things work and enjoy
scientific experiments and mathematics, then you should study physics.
Physics is the foundation of modern science. It has fascinated men and
women of every age including Newton, Maxwell, Curie, Einstein, Bohr,
Schroedinger, Dirac, Meitner, Feynman, and Hawking.
It encompasses the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to the structure of matter: the atom, the nucleus, and quarks. Its concepts, from relativity to quantum mechanics, challenge the imagination. Moreover, physics and the technologies developed by physicists play a major role in chemistry, biology, medicine, electronics, geology, and in the applied fields of optics, nanotechnology, computer science, and engineering.
A knowledge and understanding of the principles of physics not only leads to a profound understanding of the physical world but also supplies the scientist with the insight to develop new and innovative ideas. The technology and devices that influence our daily lives are based upon the discoveries of physics. The invention of the cell phone, the laser printer, the Internet, MRI; the discovery of high-temperature superconductors; and the advances in high-speed computers are only a few examples of the phenomenal physics-based technological progress witnessed in recent times. Theoretical and experimental physicists are on the cutting edge of this exciting and vital progress. They are everywhere: they work in industry, in national laboratories, and on college campuses, and on Wall Street. They are astronauts on the space shuttle. They are astronomers who hunt for new planets beyond our solar system and who are concerned with the origin and evolution of the universe. They are men and women who are interested in how things work and in how things might work. Students, both graduate and undergraduate, have the opportunity to make major contributions.
Science and technology industries recognize that global competitiveness depends upon an educated work force. A physics education develops problem-solving skills and provides a firm knowledge of basic science and the ability to apply and adapt that knowledge within the work place. Owing to their training, physicists excel at solving complex problems, which allows them to seek employment in a surprisingly wide range of academic, government, and industrial settings, well beyond the traditional boundaries of physics.
The vast majority of physics degree recipients at all degree levels work in science or engineering. The employment rate among physicists has been consistently above the national average, and is one of the highest among science majors. In the USA, the employment rate six months after graduation for physics degree recipients is currently at 98%. About 30% of physics bachelor's degree recipients go on to graduate school in physics where they support themselves as research assistants; about 20% go to graduate school in other fields; the rest enter the workforce. Of the latter, two-thirds find employment in industry.
Typical salaries offered by campus recruiters for those who are about to receive their bachelor's degree in physics are in the range of $32,000 to $52,000 (Physics Trends - Fall 2003).
The use and distribution of any or all parts of this statement are encouraged by the American Physical Society.