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Can you get into archeology after studying applied physics?

  1. Mar 17, 2013 #1
    I'm planning on doing a BSc in applied physics next year, but my real passion has always been history and archeology. The reason I chose for applied physics and not history or archeology is because the odds of getting a good job after the study are much greater.

    Now I was wondering, what are my odds of getting a job related to archeology after this study? What kind of job could this be? And are there any particular master's degress I should choose?

    I live (and study) in the Netherlands, if that makes a difference.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2013 #2
    Unless you also enjoy doing applied physics then you'll end up with one or more jobs over the next 50 years that you'll hate, and that assumes you can make it through the university physics program without burning out. I really wouldn't think that would be worth it. Of course in the short term you probably will have to have some jobs that you hate which is not related to your passion, but an important distinction is that you wouldn't be making a career out of them and you would be following a plan to pursue what you really want to do.
  4. Mar 17, 2013 #3


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    Perhaps someone a little more well-versed in the area could expand on this, but I would think there would be a lot of contributions someone with a physics background could make towards archaeology.

    One spot to look would be in labs that perform various dating services such as radiometric dating, archaeomagnetic dating or thermoluminescence dating.

    I would also think that geophysicists could make some fairly substantial contributions to archaeology in terms of searching and geoimaging techniques.

    Maybe an extension into anthropology goes a little further then you'd want to go, but have you thought at all about sociophysics - looking at physical and mathematical laws that underlie social behavior. I would imagine such models could be applied to human evolution and the inter-comparison of various cultures over time.
  5. Mar 18, 2013 #4
    I've read a couple of papers on cosmic ray muon tomography and how it can be used to map tunnels and secret chambers in pyramids. Sounded pretty cool.
    Also one of my lecturers once said you could go into material analysis after a BSc provided you get the necessary lab experience.
  6. Mar 18, 2013 #5
    When you say you are "planning on doing a BSc in applied physics next year", do you mean that you will be graduating or starting? If you will be graduating, I apologize, because I think you've already made a mistake, but if you will just be starting, I'd encourage you to rethink matters.

    Because it's difficult to get a good job in archeology, you decided the best course of action was to get an undergraduate degree in an irrelevant field and hope that would help you get in? Very few things are impossible, of course, but this makes very little sense. You should either study archaeology or give up on it.

    Go look at some archaelogy job listings and try to get an idea of how many of them would find a degree in applied physics useful.
  7. Mar 18, 2013 #6
    I meant I will be starting next year. And the reason I'm doing applied physics is not just to get into archaeology, I also like physics quite a lot. If I were to end up with a job that was purely related to physics and not to archaeology, I'd probably still be happy. The thing with archaeology is, as I mentioned, the difficulty in finding a good job (or so I've heard).

    With applied physics you have a much better chance of finding a stable job, but it would be great (for me) if that job was also related to history/archaeology.
  8. Mar 18, 2013 #7
    Don't underestimate how hard it is to find a job in physics either. Many of us would be happy with a job "purely related to physics". Such jobs are very competitive to get. They usually require a PhD, a couple post docs and luck. Otherwise, we have to reinvent ourselves as engineers or computer programmers (or go teach in public schools).
  9. Mar 18, 2013 #8
    That's exactly what I was thinking. It's sort of like giving up on being a rock star to become a movie star instead.
  10. Mar 19, 2013 #9
    I admit that was a bit optimistic. What can I realistically expect as possible job opportunities?
  11. Mar 20, 2013 #10
    With just a BS? There is only one job that a physics BS specifically trains you for. That is being a physics graduate student. IMO if you dont want to be a physics graduate student (for a PhD or medical physics) then there isn't much point in majoring in physics.

    By the time graduation comes around many who did want grad school no longer do. "Teach for America" is the only organization I know of that specifically tries to recruit physics BS holders. After grad school, Teach for America absorbs the second highest amount of BS graduates I've seen. (edit - doh, I realize now you are not in the US. Sorry...)

    Otherwise, going to grad school for something is advisable. Electrical engineering and computer science are two popular choices for physics BS holders. Its a way to try to transfer academic physics knowledge into practical skills for industry.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
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