Quantum mechanics, particularly when applied to quantum technologies, is an incredibly interesting area of science, which provides a wide variety of career opportunities. Career pathways span across academia and industry, with jobs in quantum science including (but not limited to): researcher positions in academic settings or research institutes (including research-active commercial companies); technologist posts in industry; engineering jobs with quantum software/hardware; data analytic and modelling posts in public sector organisations working on quantum algorithms and quantum (including post-quantum) cryptography protocols; as well as jobs in patent offices, science communication, outreach and media outlets, and of course educational establishments. The field of quantum technologies is going to continue to grow as the technologies advance and are commercialised, and the career opportunities within are expanding exponentially. There is genuine enthusiasm for the emerging technologies matched by heavy investment across many sectors, as the national programme in the UK and similar initiatives across the world are striving to stimulate a quantum economy.
Quantum science is often a subject that students are not introduced to until they embark upon an undergraduate degree in physics. The Quantum Communications Hub is working alongside the National STEM Learning Centre to introduce quantum science on the curriculum from an early stage. Some of the basics feature at A-Level but we are working to bring the teaching of quantum physics forward and increase the depth and breadth of study of the subject, in particular the application and technology aspects. Whilst basic quantum physics is often a core subject within degree programmes (it should be core in any physics degree), it may well be the case that the more fundamental aspects and the technology applications only feature in optional modules. Therefore, if you would like to specialise in quantum science, do make sure that any degree courses you select include an appropriate scope of options. Furthermore, many universities offer placements within degree programmes or over summer breaks which enable students to work for a period of time in industry; this can be a great way for students to gather experience and discover whether their aspiration to work in a particular industry setting is truly what they want to do.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in quantum technologies, there is a range of excellent summer schools that you could take advantage of, for example ‘Quantum in the Summer’ run annually by the Quantum Engineering Technologies Labs (QET Labs) at the University of Bristol. These summer schools often give you hands-on experience with quantum experiments and proper equipment (such as lasers!) and the opportunity to meet people who already work in the field. Keep an eye out on the Hub and Quantum City Twitter feeds, as well as our website news page, as we always advertise any summer schools there.
In the Hub, we have undertaken a series of interviews with people working in a range of different roles within the field of quantum, to understand their career journeys, and have compiled these interviews within our blog, ‘Quantumness, Randomness and Endless Possibilities’. Head over to the blog page to check out the interviews and hear what people in the field do, how they got into this line of work and what inspired them to work in quantum.
The Quantum Communications Hub, as part of Quantum City, regularly attends science festivals up and down the country (which you can see on our Events page) so if you’d like to find out more, do come and see us!