Starting physics career in military, Ult goal: PhD in theoretical physics + research
Hello All, call me JD. I'm strongly considering joining the military to begin my career in physics. My ultimate goal is to obtain a PhD in theoretical physics and do research in a yet to be determined specialization.
What I'm looking for is some general advice for starters. I've seen most of the other posts here relating to physics careers in the Military. I know the only branches worth me considering are Navy and Air force. I think the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program sounds like it would be a great next step for me. NROTC might be even better (more relaxed time-frame). I would really consider any interesting MOS (if that is the proper term to use here) which of course relates to physics as much as possible. I understand any possible choices will most likely lean quite a bit towards engineering, that's okay with me.
I have about two years college under my belt. The military is an attractive option for me, not only for covering tuition, but for experience. I think it would be enjoyable and great to have the experience of something closer to applied physics before I go straight into theoretical research (and will probably never look back). I also look forward to the discipline the military could offer (I could probably use some of that). I really like the sound of NROTC because it would allow me to complete my BS in physics just a bit leisurely, with some assurance of what I'll be doing afterwards (won't have to worry about where to go to grad school right away) and they even give you a subsistence allowance.
So, how would joining certain military programs affect my career path in general? I'm sure it wouldn't be a complete waste of time to spend 8+ years in the military doing something physics related. But, how would that affect me getting my PhD afterwards? What are the options/possibilities for getting a masters or PhD while still in the military? How would the experience I gain positively affect opportunities in the future? Would any research (theoretical research, mind you) employers look positively on having that sort of experience? Or is it just kind of a waste?
Any answers/advice will be appreciated! Especially if it comes from experience. Please let me know if you need any further info.