The first step to career development is understanding what kind of career would fit you best. It is never too early or too late to think critically about what characteristics you enjoy (or would enjoy) in your work-life. Below you will find a very brief synopsis of a number of books designed to help you explore your career preferences.
Perhaps the most basic question is whether you are interested in pursuing a career in academia, or whether you are open to the wide array of career possibilities for physicists outside the "ivory tower." On the other end of the spectrum there are more mundane questions such as, "how do I pursue a job search?" and "how do I write a cover letter?" Perhaps the best "all under one roof" book, which both guides the reader through career self-exploration and provides a wealth of practical advice, is Peter Fiske's most recent book:
- "Put Your Science To Work: The Take-Charge Career Guide for Scientists," by Peter Fiske, Ph.D.
There are several excellent books which focus more explicitly on preparing for a career as a research scientist and/or academic:
- "A Ph.D. is Not Enough: A Guide to Survival in Science," by Peter J. Feibelman, Ph.D.
- "Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering," by Richard Reis, Ph.D.
There are several books which specifically address non-research careers that demand a technical background, such as science journalism, science policy, and research funding administration to name but a few:
- "Alternative Careers in Science," by Cynthia Robbins-Roth, Ph.D.
- "Guide to Nontraditional Careers in Science," by Karen Young Kreeger, M.S.
There are also several excellent general guides to career-exploration. A few of the most popular are:
- "Do What You Love," by Marsha Sinetar - A book that includes an MBTI self-test and explanations.
- "What Color is Your Parachute?," by Richard Bolles - A classic career exploration guide, updated annually.
The career services center at your college or university may also be able to provide you with good references and advice tailored to you. If you are an alum living away from your alma mater, you may want to check whether a reciprocal agreement exists that allows you to use the career center at a local college or university.
Of course, there are numerous online resources to help your career-exploration as well. APS is recently devoting significant effort to expanding its career development resources, including the establishment of a Committee on Career and Professional Development. For more information, check out:
Never lose sight of the fact that a degree in physics makes you unique! We encourage you to browse this page and its links to get a wide overview of the many interesting and exciting opportunities open to those with a degree in physics or a related field.
Physics Career Sites
- Science's Next Wave
- Institute of Physics Career Resources
- Institute of Physics (IOP) Careers with Physics
- AIP Careers Services
Preparing for a Job in Academia
- Postdoctorate.net Science's Postdoc Network
The Two-Body Problem
- APS IMPact: Industrial Mentoring for Physicists
Industry Mentoring for Physicists (IMPact) is a new mentoring program intended to connect graduate students and postdocs with physicists who work in industry. Over 400 mentors and mentees are participating, and many mentees have received invaluable information that will help them chart a course to successful careers.
To find out more about this program click on the IMPact logo above. Signing up as a mentor or a mentee is easy, and you must be an APS member to participate. Mentors, make an impact in someone’s life by signing up today. Mentees, learn more about career options regardless of what path you ultimately choose. Questions? Email IMPact@aps.org
Download a flyer about IMPact
- Leaving Academic Physics
- Sellout - A Resource for PhD's Considerging Careers Beyond the University
- Examples of Alternative Career Paths
- Presidential Management Fellows Program
- AAAS Fellowships: APS, AIP, ACS, AGI, AGU, AMS, GSA, OSA
- Congressional Research Service
- USAJOBS: Student Jobs
- Association for Women in Science (AWIS)
- Mentornet, E-mentoring network for women in engineering and science
Resume and CV
Online Job Postings
Physics Job Listings
- Employment in Physics
- Physics World/IOP
- American Institute of Physics
- The Chronicle of Higher Education
- America's Job Bank
- Job Hunt Meta-list
- Opportunity Nocs - non-profit job listings
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy - job listings from "the newspaper of the nonprofit world".
- GoodWorks "national directory of social change organizations and is the first directory to present alternatives to traditional corporate employment."
- GuideStar - nonprofit organizations
- PhDs.org: Science, Math, and Engineering Career Resources
Success in STEM
We welcome suggestions and additions for this page. Please send comments to the FGSA Chair or Secretary.