APS Careers | Career navigator

Begin Planning Your Career

What do physicists do?

Physics training provides students with a vast set of skills that make them highly employable in many fields of work. The first step is to learn as much as you can about the possibilities that are out there. Our physicists profile library features physicists from a diversity of backgrounds who work in a variety of fields.

View all physicist profiles

Zahra Hussaini

Site Reliability Engineer at Google

Zahra Hussaini is a senior software reliability engineer at Google.

Meet Zahra

Alison Binkowski

Policy Analyst

Alison Binkowski's physics background has given her strong analytical skills and taken her across the world.

Meet Alison

Paul Markoff-Johnson


Paul Markoff-Johnson's work impacts items that power our daily lives, from disc drives to solar panels.

Meet Paul

Career options for physicists

You can also explore the type of education and skills that are needed to be successful in the most common career paths for physicists by looking at our Job Prospects page. Each career options profile, such as Data Science, Consulting, or Research & Development (R&D), gives a flavor of what life is like for physicists working in these fields. It also provides salary and career outlook information.

Find career options

You’re the main character

As you explore these profiles and the types of jobs out there, you should focus on career options that are as good a fit for you as you are for those jobs. Asking yourself these questions can help:

  • Would I enjoy doing this job? Am I interested in the day-to-day work?
  • Is the work team-based or collaborative? Do I prefer working alone or as part of a group?
  • Do I like having guidance or do I like problem-solving on my own?
  • Does the salary match my expectations? Do I want to buy a house or cover any large expenses in 2 years or 5 years or 10 years?
  • Does the job offer work-life balance? How important is that to me?
  • Would I have to move somewhere specific or are multiple locations feasible?
  • Is there travel involved?
  • Are there certain places I want to avoid, e.g. defense or finance sectors, due to my values?

Webinar: The Career Planning Process

Learn some tips for self-assessment and planning in this clip from Peter Fiske's webinar "Putting Your Science to WORK."

Webinar: Tips for Effective Self-Evaluation

Learn tips for self-assessment in this clip from Megan Anzelc's webinar "Career Exploration Strategies and Tools"

Download your personalized workbook

As you explore the Career Navigator, use this workbook to keep track of your goals, ideas, and any other thoughts you have.

Workbook prompts

Use these as a starting point to begin planning your career.

Consider career paths

Pick up to three profiles that resonate with you and think about why. Was it the person’s story, their field of work, or something else? Would you want to pursue any of these career paths?

Review your skills

Pick a job prospect profile that intrigued you and write down why you are interested in it. What training might be required to find a job in this field? Which skills do you already have? What additional skills would you need to build?

Set your top criteria

First answer as many of these questions as you can. What are your top three takeaways? Are there any physicist profiles or career paths from the last activity that would match the criteria you have just created?

Join your Society

If you embrace scientific discovery, truth and integrity, partnership, inclusion, and lifelong curiosity, this is your professional home.