Careers - Physics and Astronomy - University of Canterbury - New Zealand


What jobs do physics and astronomy graduates get?

Physics and astronomy graduates can (and do) do anything!

Physics and astronomy graduates get all sorts of jobs – the possibilities are truly endless. The purpose of this web page is to provide some information about what these jobs are. This information is aimed at prospective and current students; in particular students who intend to leave University with a B.Sc or B.Sc (Hons).

Careers, Internships and Employment Service

The University of Canterbury operates a Careers, Internships and Employment Service located at 79 Clyde Road. They provide a range of services including advice, courses, and written and web based information. You are encouraged to visit their web site and to register on the CareerHub system for online updates about jobs that are available, employer visits to campus etc. Note that physics students should be careful to look at the job opportunities listed under other disciplines (e.g. engineering and commerce) - physicists can do anything!

News: The Careers, Internships & Employment Team launched the UC Careers Kit – a set of 72 subject-based career brochures and a new website titled “What can I do with a degree from UC?”

Astronomy brochure click here .
Physics brochure click here .

Survey Results

The department has surveyed its graduates of previous years.  Amongst other data the survey provides the following snapshot of the positions held by those graduates who responded to the survey.

Non-Academic Positions
Position Type of Industry
Meteorological instrument technician Environmental (water & atmospheric research)
Instrument Project Manager Building services Astronomical teaching, research and public outreach
Secondary School Teacher (Physics/Science) Education
Health Protection Officer Health - I work for Christchurch Hospital
Senior Software Engineer Electronic Publishing
Inter School Christian Fellowship field worker Youthwork:  initiating, promoting & resourcing Christian groups in schools Relief: teaching
Director of Research and Analytics Analysis of Mutual Funds
GP Health
Computer Consultant Advising Client about computer strategies and building computer systems
IT Consultant Engineering Consultancy
Oceanographic Engineer Discovery and production of hydrocarbons
Payments Processing Officer North Health (purchases health services on behalf of the Govt)
Programmer Analyst/Consultant University
Trainee operational forecaster MetService - To provide accurate weather forecasts to its customers - the public and the aviation market including severe weather warnings
Landscape Contractor
Electronic Assembler/Tester Producing/Selling Mobile Radios
Director Have own consulting and management services company with clients primarily in the electricity industry.
Manager Computer Retail, Service and Consultancy
Science/Physics Teacher, Dean of Form 6 Education
Product Manager Design & Manufacture of Electronic Equipment
Meteorologist Production of Weather Services
Sub-editor (Journalist) Newspaper
Marketing Executive Airline industry Computer Consultancy
Project Manager Manage project for the supply, installation, commissioning of fibre optics cable system in Malaysia.
Consultant geophysicist Oil and Gas Software Applications in Geophysics
Technician (demonstrations) Research & Tertiary training
Computer Support Person Education
Programme coordinator for prevocational skills programme, mental health services Social services and training for people with disability and long term mental health problems.
Teaching Assistant Education
Physics Teacher (Head of Department) Secondary Education
Assistant teacher of physics/junior science of secondary level. To teach students.  The meaning of science/physics/and life
Music Producer Radio Broadcasting
Civil Engineer Engineering Consultants
Assistant Teacher (Secondary) Education
Systems engineer, Help desk technician, Network Administrator.
International student advisor
Flight Commander, Central Flying School, RNZAF (Chief Instructor for the RNZAF Flying Instructor Training School) Defence and fly planes
Principal - Environmental Engineer Consulting Engineer
Managing Director Computer Software Development
Computer consultant Developing software
Auto-electrician Fixing cars, trucks, boats, bikes etc
Doctor-Psychiatric Registrar Mental Health Service
Assist Engineer Consulting Engineers
Technical Consultant Govt Dept.
Business Systems Manager Meat processing and export
Fire Engineer Consulting Engineering
Engineer Telecom Australia (my section was developing transmission equipment)
Sales Engineer Provide technical/sales support to clients looking to buy air distribution equipment.
Consultant, Director, Cleaning Entity Computer software development
Junior Designer Radio Communications system and product design and manufacture
Development Manager International Relations
International Airline Pilot Air New Zealand
Head of Information Technology Education
Academic / Research Positions
Position Type of Industry
Professor University - teaching and research
Scientist or Industrial Physicist Applied R & D
Post doc Education and research
Senior Electrical Engineer Mining ore bodies in Australia
Senior Astronomer Conduct research in astronomy and astrophysics and to provide a facility to enable others to undertake research
Senior Lecturer in Physics Research and Education
Research Scientist.  Work on problems where physics is important to main biological systems.  Well removed from both my undergraduate and postgraduate training. NIWA - Govt funded environmental research, biological and physical.
Antarctic Astronomer Basic Research
Lecturer Higher Education
Senior Lecturer, School of Physics, Australian Defence Force Academy Tertiary education and research/military training
Postdoctoral Researcher University based research in Biophysics
Research Assistant Research and Training (Tertiary)
Senior Lecturer in Computer Science Education and Research
University Lecturer Education and Research
Lecturer Education & Research
Joint Head of School and Academic Leader Research and Education
Manager Research
Research Scientist Defence research, analysis and technology
Computer Tutor Training and education of long term unemployed adults.  Training Opportunity Programme.
Clinical Physicist (Medical Physics) Health
Research Director Opto-Electronics Product Development
Lecturer Research and Teaching
Medical Scientific Officer Radiation Therapy
Lecturer University Education
Lecturer Education


Mike German
Canterbury Degree: BSc(Hons) in Physics in 1991. Current Company / Place of work: Shell International, The Netherlands. Position Title: Aviation Global Joint Venture Coordinator.

Lynley Hargreaves
Canterbury Degree: BSc(Hons) in Mathematical Physics, 1998. Current Company / Place of work: Royal Society of New Zealand. Position Title: Communicator.

We are currently attempting to generate some more detailed information about some of our graduates.  Anyone who would be prepared to feature on our website should contact Simon Brown.

Other physics careers resources 

Comments on this page should be directed to Simon Brown.

  • Department of Physics and Astronomy
    University of Canterbury,
    Private Bag 4800,
    Christchurch 8140,
    New Zealand.
    Phone: +64 3 364 2523
    Fax: +64 3 364 2469
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