1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Career Change at age 30 Caution-Long Post

  1. Feb 7, 2015 #1
    I posted on another topic of going into engineering at age 30 but I really have an interest in math and physics and I want to study physics. Not because it will have money waiting on me at the end, or for any other reason for the sheer joy of learning it and just being happy.

    Lately in my life I have had many medical issues that nearly cost me my life and I am still recovering from Bell's Palsy. I cannot see myself doing something that I feel is not worthwhile of the time I have left on this planet. When you nearly lose your life twice in one year, you really focus on whats most important out of life, and money definitely is not it.

    As of now I work as a technician in a pharmaceutical company and I am just miserable, and also the job is what is causing me my health issues. The job is not bad per say, but it is not something that allows me to be creative.

    I guess I can say I have had an epiphany of sorts because each day I often wonder if I will make it to the next and I find peace and solace in astronomy, math and physics. I have a strong interest and passion towards electromagnetism.

    Originally I set out to become a microbiologist, well due to medical reasons it is not wise for me to work with chemicals or bacteria so chemistry and microbiology is out. Biology is very interesting but I still feel it is not giving me the knowledge I am craving. If I want biology I will go for a stroll in the park or take a long nature hike.

    Don't get me know, we all know math and physics is challenging and can push the best of minds to near madness, but it makes me feel like I have a way of understanding the world around me more so than the average person on the street. I have most of my prerequisites for the undergrad program out of the way just need to finish up some calculus courses and quite a few physics courses. I know it is not going to be a walk in the park but I have this yearning inside me to know, the want to know.

    Have any of you chosen physics simply to learn about it... not really seeking whatever job could be at the end? I am sure there is something at the end I could do in the realm of physics, and from my understanding a degree in physics opens many doors unrelated to physics all together.

    In the end I just want to do what makes me happy and be happy.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2015 #2
    This is a no brainer and you don't need us to tell you how to be happy. Why is making a change that will make you happy so difficult. Do it, and be happy :)
  4. Feb 8, 2015 #3
    Hey EpsilonDelta. I too have decided to change over from a potentially lucrative career in engineering over to physics. i guess i might have more opportunites in the engineering indsutry but physics is where my true interest lies. I think I'll be going back to school.

    There's probably a few things you'd want to consider regarding a career in physics. Do you want to do research or more applied industrial work. Academic or non-academic profession. would you want to teach.

    Let me know how it turns out. Hope you're feeling better right now.
  5. Feb 8, 2015 #4


    User Avatar

    Good luck on your journey. I think you're making a very positive choice. I think a lot of people in your position would be too scared to change their life path because it's kind of drilled into our heads that we should finish school and get settled down asap. I found out myself that life isn't always so simple, so I can totally understand where you're coming from.

    If you're not 100% sure where you want to end up in terms of career, I would advise taking some programming electives (or at least learn it on the side) and maybe a couple statistics classes like design of experiments and regression. Those kinds of skills + the physics degree should open some doors for "regular jobs" to fall back on.
  6. Feb 28, 2015 #5
    Thank you all who posted positive and encouraging responses. Right now this semester I am not in school..... I am trying to get out of the job I am in (pharmaceutical) and get a job that will be flexible with hours and allow me to go back to school at least part time.

    You know sometimes in life things happen and it makes you question everything you know and what you are doing with your life. This past year I was hit with two life threatening events that nearly killed me. My previous ambitions of pursuing a degree for a job that pays well has changed.

    The reason I want to study physics is because if I were to die tomorrow or 50 years from now, I at least did what I wanted in life and got the most out of it, and that would be learning about where I came from, how the universe works, and the mysteries entailed. Also including what I could potentially give back to society from what I learned.

    I do feel in today's society many people are focused solely on monetary and material gain, and that is why many people do go to school. To get a degree to get a job that pays well. Some people succeed, some do not. I am not sure how many people are satisfied within their own being about their career choices. Doing a job you hate to make money simply is no way to live. Trust me I know, I am doing it now.... but not for much longer.

    I look forward to going back to school in the fall. Of all the subjects I took when I was working on my microbiology undergrad program, I loved math and aced every course. However I am now going to be going to much much more advanced levels of math, so now in my spare time I review everything from algebra to trig to pre-calculus. If you do not practice math, you will become rusty at it.

    As far as a future career after finishing school... I will see what happens when that time comes... I am sure during my studies at university taking the various courses I will find an interest and go from there. Right now my mind and options are open.

    I will say that it is interesting to read feedback online from people who majored in physics. I will say the majority of people who majored in physics for the love of it are the ones who are the most happiest with their decision. I do see the ones who majored in physics for monetary reasons are the least happiest and often complain the most about regretting getting a degree in physics.

    Anyways.. I do hope to hear more feedback from people, it feels good having support. It is difficult to take on a new journey in life alone with very few people who are supportive and understand why I am doing this. Thank you again.
  7. Feb 28, 2015 #6
    If you have mental health issues alongside the physical ones, a career change like this may not be the answer. I mean, when you say you had 'an epiphany' that you will find 'solace' in math and astronomy, it sounds kind of odd to me.

    I gave up a mundane career in IT at 30 to go become a scientist. I might become a biochemist or microbiologist and fail to secure a position in research after my postdoc career and end up as a technician at a pharmaceutical company.

    When I see all these physics and math BSc guys desperate to get out of academics and into programming, you may be on the opposite road.
    After doing it for a few years, nothing is more mind-numbing that writing simple code for mundane software.

    Doing real science and seeing the beauty of life, is refreshing.

    Also, all academic careers are demanding. There's few part-time nice jobs that require a MSc or PhD.
  8. Feb 28, 2015 #7
    Almeisan, I respect your opinion but people make changes in their lives for different reasons. No matter if I had these illnesses or not, that is no reason to not pursue physics. Would it be different if I wanted to do something like finance? I do not think so. Bells Palsy is not the same as Cerebral Palsy, there is a huge difference. Finding peace and happiness in what you do with your life is the most important thing you can do with your life and me getting out of a toxic environment into something better that makes me want to get out of bed each day and go on is definitely worth it.

    There comes a point in SOME peoples lives when their priorities and interests change. This just so happens to be MY time.

    I have worked in the chem/micro industry about 4 years now and there is no way I would want to do that the rest of my life, much less even a few more months. If that is an industry you want to pursue, kudos to you but that is not something for me.

    I will make it plain and simple.... I am choosing to study physics because I find it interesting and most importantly because I want to.
    A college education is optional here in the United States. People either go because they want to make a career out of what they find interesting or because they want just a piece of paper that will make them more money. We all need money, yes, but we should not let money come first before our health and happiness.

    I am choosing to gain an education in physics for my own right.

    Medical conditions set aside...... I am setting my own path and going forward with it.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook