Guide To Career Preparation

Version 2022.1

This section provides guidelines and recommendations for physics programs seeking to (1) educate students about and prepare students for a wide variety of careers, through curricular and co-curricular activities, (2) explicitly teach skills and knowledge relevant to future careers, and (3) connect students with opportunities that align with their career goals. The sections on High School Physics Teacher Preparation and Preparing Students for Graduate School in Physics and Related Fields provide more detailed guidance on preparing students for these specific careers.


Recognition within your program of the diverse careers within and outside of academia that physics bachelor’s degree recipients pursue enables your program to better prepare students for these careers. Promoting and preparing students for diverse careers makes graduates more employable and better prepared for further education; it also aids recruiting and retention, particularly of students from

Marginalized Groups

People of color and others with marginalized ethnicities, women and others who experience misogyny, LGBTQ+ people, disabled people, and others who have traditionally been marginalized in society and in physics. According to the TEAM-UP Report, marginalized groups are “groups of people defined by a common social identity who lack adequate social power or resources to design, build, or perpetuate social structures or institutions that reflect the centrality … of their identities, proclivities, and points of view. … They need not be underrepresented or numerical minorities, but often are.” We use the term marginalized groups, rather than minorities, underrepresented groups, or other commonly used terms, because people in these groups are not always minorities or underrepresented, and in order to convey that underrepresentation is the result of marginalization rather than a statistical accident. Another common term is minoritized groups. While we use this general term for brevity and readability, it is important to recognize that the many different groups encompassed by this term face different challenges and have different needs that should be addressed individually whenever possible, to learn the terms that people ask to be called, and to recognize that these terms may change over time.

. Increasing employment rates of graduates benefits your institution in both recruiting and accreditation.

The Cycle of Reflection and Action

Effective Practices

Effective Practices

  1. Communicate to and educate students about a variety of career options

  2. Provide students with on-campus experiences that explicitly teach skills and knowledge relevant to future careers

  3. Provide students with off-campus learning experiences that explicitly teach skills and knowledge relevant to future careers

Programmatic Assessments

Programmatic Assessments

Evidence to support these practices comes from numerous sources that are summarized in the Phys21 report and the Phys21 Supplement, as well as data collected by the AIP Statistical Research Center.

  1. P. Heron, L. McNeil, et al. (editors), “Phys21: Preparing Physics Students for 21st-Century Careers,” American Physical Society (2016).
  2. L. Woolf and D. Arion, “Phys21 Supplement: J-TUPP Summary of Background Reports on Careers and Professional Skills, Summary of Background Reports on Careers and Professional Skills," American Physical Society (2016).
  3. P. Mulvey and J. Pold, “Physics Bachelor’s Initial Employment,” Focus On Report, American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center (2017).
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1738311, 1747563, and 1821372. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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