David Saltzberg, PhD. is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA. He received his Bachelor's degree in Physics from Princeton and his doctorate from the University of Chicago. David has partially shifted his research towards neutrino astronomy, using radio detection techniques. He recently completed a scientific balloon mission looking for the electromagnetic pulses from neutrino interactions in the Antarctic Ice. He is also Science Consultant for the television sit-com: The Big Bang Theory.
While David is a scientist, he also has an undergraduate liberal arts education which made him the right person to ask: what does one "do" with a physics degree? He has not only taught many students, but has friends who chose less traditional pursuits. And he advises future educators at a leading university.
So I had high hopes that some very good answers and examples will be given here. But I'm a bit disappointed with the responses.
Why should college students consider majoring in physics?
I think there is only one reason to major in physics, and that is because you really like it. I majored in physics because I always liked my classes and wanted to learn more. Along the way, you meet some really smart people who also love physics in relatively small classes. You work together in labs and generally spend a lot of time together. It is a great way to go through college.
What have your former college classmates and students done (besides doctoral study) after earning their undergraduate degrees in physics?
It is all over the map. Various types of engineering are all possible. I even have one friend that designs robots. Others have gone into science journalism. Another friend with a physics major joined the Air Force and flies planes.
So essentially, the whole question in the topic is covered in this last paragraph. The rest of the article is about physics, funding, education, etc. There is no elaboration on the exact nature of jobs available for an undergraduate physics degree holder. So if I were such a degree holder and hoping that this article tells me a bit more on what jobs I'm qualified for, I'd say that other than some superficial information that is "... all over the map... ", I've learned nothing.
This is sad, because it is not as if such information isn't available. The AIP webpage has a wealth of statistics on the type of jobs such physics degree holders get employed in. So one could be quite specific on the type of jobs available.
But beyond that, when asked on why one should major in physics, is the best that can be answered is that "... you really like it.. "? What happened to the fact that the skills one acquire majoring in it can be quite useful in one's career, be it in science or outside of science?
I think this article missed a tremendous opportunity to produce useful information that students could have used. Instead, it had more emphasis on funding and physics education.