APS Careers | Career navigator

Take a Skills Inventory

You have a lot to offer.

A student sitting at a desk and taking notes while looking at a computer.

Given that physics is a broad scientific discipline, most students develop expertise with a great variety of scientific instruments, techniques, and problem solving approaches. These kinds of technical skills qualify physicists for diverse types of jobs. Examples include:

  • Applied research
  • Technical problem solving
  • Teaching
  • Programming
  • Documentation
  • Data and Error Analysis
  • Advanced mathematics
  • Simulation and modeling
  • Design and development
  • Using specialized equipment
  • Quality control

At the same time, there are a host of non-technical skills which are used by physicists working in every sector— a university professor, a research scientist at a company, or a staff scientist at a national lab— and they are often more difficult to teach than the scientific and technical skills. These include:

  • Writing concisely and accurately
  • Tailoring your message to an audience
  • Managing/leading groups of people
  • Managing projects (creating task lists, developing timelines, setting goals, etc.)
  • Planning for and obtaining necessary resources (e.g. funding)
  • Developing and managing budgets
  • Working on a team

These are skills which are at the core of success in any field you decide to pursue, and you can actively cultivate these skills as you move through your educational career.

Too many lists on this page? Let’s personalize it!

Take time to inventory all of the possible skills and experiences you have acquired in your lifetime and don't leave anything out! Did you volunteer with a student organization and acquire some leadership skills? Perhaps you tutored in your free time and have become better at explaining complex topics as a result. Even experiences that don't seem relevant could someday give you an extra edge on a job application.

This step is vitally important because whenever you are ready for the job search, you will use these skills as building blocks to create a tailored resume for each job application.

Transferable skills

For more information on creating a skills inventory, watch this clip from Peter Fiske's webinar "Putting Your Science to WORK."

Skills that transfer to an industrial environment

To hear about skills that are valued by industry employers, including skills that you may want to acquire, check out this clip from a talk by APS Head of Careers Crystal Bailey, PhD.

Watch this clip from a panel of industry physicists with a bachelor’s degree to learn about how they use their physics training and skills in their everyday jobs.

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 prompt

Use this prompt as a starting point for your skills inventory.

Build your skills

Take an inventory and list your skills. For each skill, you should also think about your proficiency level. Are there any skills missing that you want to build?

Join your Society

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