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Feb18-11, 11:51 AM
P: 685
Quote Quote by Diracula View Post
I've read on here a lot that if you complete a physics PhD you have a 1 in 10 chance of obtaining a research professor job. 1 in 4 chance if you graduate from a top school.
I believe the 1/10 statistic is for being a professor anywhere, including liberal arts colleges.

Because if this is the scenario, it is possible the reason the statistics look so crappy is that these physics PhDs actually receive far better job offers upon graduate when compared to 6 years of postdocs, so they simply leave academia for these other career opportunities. This way of looking at the statistic makes a physics PhD look far better, unless the ONLY reason you are doing a PhD is that you want to become a research professor at a university.
The broad trend has been that we create more scientists than science jobs, so overall, a PhD is not a sure bet for a career in science (industry or academic). As a country, we've seen a shift toward applied and away from basic research. Anecdotally, I know many physics phds who were unable to find any industry or academic work within the field, and now work in insurance, finance, business consulting, etc.

This is not to say there aren't physics phds who get great industry offers- many do, especially if they are in a more applied field, and leave with an industry relevant skill set. However, there are plenty of specialties within physics where the only meaningful hope of employment within the field are academic or national lab positions.