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Can I still become a Physicist?

  1. Jun 25, 2013 #1
    Dear Friends,

    I always wanted to be a physicist and while in grade12 I got into depression which cost me 10 precious years of my life. I'm 30 now and haven't yet got to college. Is there hope for me?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2013 #2
    You have to go to college and get a physics degree (or math degree with lots of physics classes). If you can finish that, then in principle you should be just as close to becoming a physicist as any other physics major.

    However, if you are 30 now, you may want to reconsider what becoming a physicist actually means. It will be 4 years before you finish college, and another 5 years before you get your PhD. You'll be 40 before you even apply for post doc positions, which is pretty much the first time that you get enough money to support more than just yourself (that is, you can't really support a family until then). For some people that is unacceptable, but for others it's a small price to pay. In your case, you may be hoping to advance faster in life than that, I know I would.
  4. Jun 25, 2013 #3


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    I agree with DimReg.

    Being 30 does not create any barriers that don't exist for a 20 year old who also wants to embark on that path, but there are the practical considerations:

    1. At 20 its a lot easier to live in residence or student housing and survive on KD than it is at 30.
    2. At 30 most people start thinking of things like family, mortgage, RRSPs, etc. A graduate student salary (assuming you get that far) is not condusive to supporting large financial obligations.
    3. The majority of your peers will be younger than you which may leave you feeling somewhat isolated.
    4. Remember the odds. Of people who go so far as to get a PhD, you've got a roughly 1 in 10 chance of going on to becoming a professor. I don't know what the odds are of getting to the PhD in the first place out of a pool of incoming university students who want to pursue physics... maybe 1 in 10 again. So even with large uncertainty in those numbers, you can seen the odds are that you won't end up as a physics professor. This has nothing to do with you age. Those are the numbers for everyone.

    All of that said, there's no reason you CAN'T at least start. Why not enroll in a few first year courses and find out if physics is something you really want to do.
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