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Career Advice

  1. Feb 26, 2008 #1

    I'm a physics major at Cornell and after reading a few of the threads on this site, I'm worried I might not end up with the career I'm expecting. I love physics, and have been planning on going to graduate school for my Ph.D. But I'm not sure I love physics enough to be unemployable and underpaid when I'm older... I couldn't see myself ever doing something like investment banking (I tend to see a job where your only contribution to the world is to make the rich richer as fairly unsatisfying), but what are my other options in terms of graduate school, engineering or other fields once I have my BA in physics? Is there some kind of compromise, like working between physics and business? I should have at least a 3.8 or so (first year 3.0, last three ~4.0) when I graduate...
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2008 #2


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    We have had several thread on this issue. I think whenever such question had been asked, there is one important factor that is seldom considered - the area of specialization, especially at the Ph.D level.

    I have seen first hand during the late 80's/early 90's where we had news report of physics Ph.D's driving cabs to make a living. Yet, I know for a fact that there were physics Ph.D that had job offers even before they even completed their thesis defense! So what could be the difference between those people? One had a degree in some esoteric theoretical area, while the other had a degree in something more employable such as medical physics or experimental condensed matter physics with skills in things such as thin film laser ablation. What you specialize in, and the kinds of skills that you have acquired determine your employability by a large degree.

    Physics major and physics PhD are not all the same. While there are no guarantees in any area of study on one's employment after graduation, and certainly not in physics, there ARE more employable and desirable areas of study that have a relatively higher probability of employment in those areas of study than others.

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