In addition to friendship and romance, the characters’ careers are also a huge area of focus on The Big Bang Theory. After all, a majority of Sheldon’s quirks are related to his fascination and dedication to the sciences. With everyone working in the sciences (aside from Penny when she was a struggling actress), work isn’t just the topic of conversation at dinner; it’s their livelihood. The gang has fun at work because they’re passionate about what they do.
But what exactly do the characters on The Big Bang Theory do? Each character works in a different field but that doesn’t keep them from sharing their experiences, problems, and accomplishments with each other.
After attending the University of Cambridge, Raj got his PhD in astrophysics and became an astrophysicist at Caltech. While at Caltech, Raj was part of the squad that created a data-collecting space probe on Pluto and won multiple awards for his research. Later, he teamed up with Sheldon to work on string theory and dark matter. As much as Sheldon acts like he’s smarter than everyone else and doesn’t need to work in teams, Raj’s input was invaluable and helped Sheldon tremendously. By the end of the series, Raj was still working at Caltech but got a job at the Griffith Observatory as a hobby.
Sheldon: Theoretical Physicist
One of the brightest characters on TBBT is Sheldon Cooper. At the tender age of 16, Sheldon received his PhD, but he also has his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Master of Arts, and his Doctor of Science. With an IQ of 187, Sheldon works at Caltech as a theoretical physicist focusing on string theory.
He later changes his focus to dark matter when he hit a dead end with string theory. However, Sheldon never completely lets string theory go. With Amy’s help, they put their energy towards string theory’s super-asymmetry and won a Nobel Prize for their accomplishments. By the end of the series, Sheldon is still profoundly happy at Caltech working in the Physics Department.
Leonard: Experimental Physicist
After attending Princeton and getting his PhD in physics, Leonard became an experimental physicist at Caltech, which is where he met his best friends. His work was published in a few prominent journals and he was recognized for his contribution to science. This resulted in his career when he began working for the U.S. government with Howard and Sheldon. He even got to work on the North Sea with a team organized by Stephen Hawking. At the end of the series, Leonard was at a standstill professionally but still did amazing work that was recognized by both Sheldon and President Siebert.
Howard: Engineer & Former Astronaut
Although Howard gets little respect from Sheldon, he really is a fantastic engineer who should be praised for his work. Howard attended MIT where he got his Master’s Degree in Engineering, with a focus on aerospace. He had the ability to control the Mars Rover and helped design a satellite that circled Jupiter.
Due to his experience with space, Howard had the opportunity to work with NASA and go to the International Space Station. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of his career. He later invented a Quantum Guidance System for the U.S. Air Force with a theory created by Leonard and Sheldon.
Penny: Actress, Waitress, Pharmaceutical Sales Rep.
When Penny first started the series, she was newer to Los Angeles and was trying to become an actress. In between auditions, she got a waitressing job at The Cheesecake Factory to pay her bills. Sadly, Penny realized her acting career wasn’t going anywhere, so she got a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep at Bernadette’s company.
Penny didn’t love “flirting with doctors for money” but she was making more money than she ever had before. She even doubled Leonard’s salary! When Penny found her footing in pharmaceuticals, Bernadette recruited her to be the head of her sales team. She even dabbled in public relations as well.
When Bernadette was first introduced, she was a fellow waitress at The Cheesecake Factory who was getting her degree in microbiology. After she and Howard became serious, she began working for a company that paid for her to get her PhD. Later in the series, it’s noted that Bernadette is the head of her department at a pharmaceutical company called ZanGen. When her company hires Penny, it’s shown how powerful Bernadette is in her role and that she makes a “butt load” of money.
Amy is a Harvard graduate who has her PhD in neurobiology. Not much is said about Amy’s day-to-day life in the lab but she has talked about her research with capuchin monkies. While she didn’t work at Caltech with the guys, she did get transferred there for a few weeks to do a study. She has also mentioned doing work at UCLA’s lab as well, which could be where she worked full-time as a researcher. By the end of the series, Amy’s knowledge of neuroscience helped Sheldon with his work in physics, which ultimately won the two of them a Nobel Prize.
Stuart: Business Owner
Stuart’s business is a main location on the series. As the owner of the comic book store, Stuart had a hard time getting his business off the ground but it finally paid off later in the series. It’s not known if he had a real passion for owning a store, but his degree from Rhode Island School of Design proved that he enjoyed comic book illustrations. It was great for fans to see his business finally make a profit by the end of the series.