Sales and Marketing

Career Profile

What They Do

At the PhD level, physicists in sales and marketing roles may be responsible for managing the company's resources, and/or exploring new and more effective ways that the company can market their product. These activities might include:
  • setting product pricing to balance production costs vs. market forces
  • finding optimal suppliers of raw materials, contractors outside the company who handle certain aspects of the product production, and manufacturers up the supply chain
  • doing market research to identify new potential customer groups
  • developing marketing strategies for targeting new customer groups
  • meeting with clients to assess their needs and recommend products/services
  • travelling to trade shows and professional meetings to speak with attendees about the company/product
  • managing international distributors, which can involve significant travel

At the MS and BS level, a physicist in sales and marketing might have less involvement with setting the pricing structure for products or sourcing materials. Rather, they would work primarily on identifying and pursuing potential customers, and informing them about the product. They would also work closely with established customers, to ensure that their needs are being met and a good relationship is maintained between the customers and the company. However, with only a few years experience, a physics BS or MS graduate may see more of the items listed above added to their responsibilities.

Physicists in sales and marketing roles at all degree levels frequently attend professional meetings and trade shows, to promote and answer questions about their products. So, frequent travel is also a feature of this career path.

Education & Background

The degree level required depends strongly on the main activities of the position: for more strategic roles in managing the commercial aspects of a company, or for roles in which the person would need to interact mostly with academic customers, a PhD would be required; for roles which are more focused on discovering new markets and building relationships with existing ones, a BS or MS degree is preferred.

Additional Training

Physicists in Sales and Marketing spend much of their time explaining the technical aspects of their company’s products to people, some of whom may not have a scientific or technical background. Therefore having some teaching or outreach experience is a big plus when applying for these jobs, as it demonstrates your ability to explain difficult concepts to a variety of audiences.

Furthermore, a basic familiarity with business concepts like cost benefit analysis (how companies balance resources with product cost to ensure that they continue earning a profit) and is also beneficial. Fortunately, a wealth of information about these topics is available online from sources like You may also want to look into taking some basic business courses at your institution. Though having these experiences will make you stand out compared to many other candidates, once you're hired many companies will provide additional needed training.

Career Path

Many physicists who come to sales and marketing at the PhD level enter the field having previously done scientific research, either in an academic or private sector setting; often said research is related to the products they are selling. Such candidates are in high demand for sales and marketing jobs because they thoroughly understand the technology and can therefore easily address questions from their customer base. Physicists who have had experience in independent research settings are also accustomed to thinking strategically in order to move a product to completion. Successfully overseeing the development of a new product or patent is one of many achievements which can lead to promotion in this career path.

At the BS and MS levels, candidates are usually hired into the company directly after receiving their degrees. Success in thix career path is usually governed by factors such as the size or difficulty of the sales deals closed by the employee, as well as that employee's customer retention rate. 

Physics graduates in these roles are often competing with graduates with other technical or business degrees. The advantage of a physics degree is a better familiarity with the company's technology or product portfolio. At the same time, business graduates may be better trained in communication to specific audiences. So, cultivating those additional skills is the key to success and advancement in the company for physics graduates.

Additional Resources

APS Webinar: How I Got a Six Figure Job in the Private Sector



All degree levels, but BS most common.


Additional training

Additional Training

No formal training, but ability to communicate technical content a plus.




For BS and MS: $60K
For PhDs: $125K




Growing. Many companies prefer technical people to represent products.

Physicist Profiles