Physicists, go far, earn more

16 June 2011

Minister for Research & Innovation, Seán Sherlock, TD, launched a new report from the Institute of Physics in Ireland on Irish physics graduates at 8.30am at the Merrion Hotel on Wednesday 15 June.

Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock

Speaking at the launch of the report, Physics in Ireland: the brightest minds go further, Minister Sherlock said: ‘This report highlights the stimulating and well-paid careers that can be enjoyed by physics graduates. With Ireland’s international competitiveness, becoming increasingly dependent on the scientific and technological skills of its workforce, it is important that more young people are encouraged to take science courses.’

Minister Sherlock outlined the investment that Government continues to make in Research and Development and its importance as a means of creating sustainable employment. ‘We have trebled the level of investment in research and development, providing enterprise support for R&D, investing in human capital, physical infrastructure and the commercialisation of research. This investment is essential to provide sustainable, high-quality, well-paid jobs in Ireland.’

The report, prepared by Tom Martin and Associates, is based on a survey of 822 physics graduates from Irish colleges. The resultant data provides strong evidence that a degree in physics leads to well paid employment in highly diverse fields. Key facts that emerged include:

  • High salaries - the survey found that 14% of graduates earn more than €100,000 a year
  • Employment in sectors ranging from high-tech industries to the arts and the media
  • Widely sought after skill sets such as problem solving, team working and creativity
  • An increasing number of women are pursuing a career in physics: just under a third of the survey respondents were female
  • Graduates with a higher level physics qualification (Masters, PhD) are contributing to Ireland’s rapidly growing third level research community in disciplines such as ICT, biotechnology and nanotechnology to name but a few.

Such information will be of particular benefit to young people considering studying physics and to other significant influencers such as career counsellors, parents, teachers and employers.

 Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock with Codrin Andrei and Caoimhe de Fréin

Left: Seán Sherlock with Codrin Andrei and Caoimhe de Fréin, both postgraduate students in the Plasmonics and Ultrafast NanoOptics group in UCD School of Physics. 

They are demonstrating a nanotube model which is 200 million times the actual size of a carbon nanotube.