Physics bachelor’s degree holders who entered the workforce in academic year 2008–09 earned starting salaries in the range of $40 000-$64 000. That puts them among the highest-earning new college graduates, according to data collected by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (see figure).

Roman Czujko, who heads the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics, says, “It’s remarkable that during a tight economy campus recruiters were interviewing and offering physicists jobs, and that there were enough data to talk about. The fact that the data include physics is positive. The fact that physics salaries are among the top numbers is also positive.”

Recessions, Czujko adds, “come at least once a decade, sometimes twice. At least 3 out of 10 graduating classes have the misfortune to graduate during a recession. This time physics bachelors are doing well. But in general, I’d like to tell those kids to...

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