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Career Guidance

  1. Feb 28, 2006 #1
    Hi, I'm currently working as a software engineer, I have a BS degree in computer science and I've been working in the field for about 10 years. I have a lot of experience and am quite good in most areas of software development. The problem is that I'm getting really bored with my career and want to do something more scientific. I've been teaching myself physics through a couple text books that I got and I'm currently loving physics and thinking about going back to school to get a BS in physics (probably at umw.edu).

    My question is, what kind of jobs could I get with a BS only in physics and would it help having that and a BS in CS? The problem is that I can't really go for something entry level, I have a wife and kids and I'm the only one who works, so I would need to get a position where I could make 100k+ because I can't really afford to get paid much less than I do now. Does anyone have any advice? Should I just give up this dream because it's unrealistic and stick to my current career and just stay bored?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2006 #2
    I don't think 100k is realistic for a "first timer" if you know what I mean. I'm not saying that it is impossible, but that is a LOT of money, but I guess it depends where you live, too. If you are making 100k as a software engineer, I would stick with it. I know doctor's of CS who make a lot less than that.
  4. Feb 28, 2006 #3
    yea location makes a huge difference, I live in DC where a small town house costs 700k
  5. Feb 28, 2006 #4
    Unless you're wanting to go into more into hardware engineering that software engineering, a BS in physics doesn't do much for you. BS graduates don't work as physicists. I know some people who get their BS and choose not to do grad school either choose to teach high school, or they go to companies like Raytheon, Lockheed, Agilent, Northrop Grumman, etc. You probably wouldn't be looking at a pay cut, but it wouldn't be much of a raise either.
  6. Feb 28, 2006 #5
    not really looking for a raise in money, just a raise in interest in my work.
  7. Feb 28, 2006 #6

    Well as I said, the BS graduates I know that have not gone to grad school work in defense, electronics, or other engineering-centric companies usually. The starting salaries that people I know have been offered are usually around $60k, but someone with two BSs and some years of experience wouldn't get a starting salary. You'd probably be doing hardware research/design type stuff (since you can't technically work as a certified engineer with a physics degree).

    As a caveat this is just based on what I've heard from graduating seniors in the physics department.
  8. Feb 28, 2006 #7
    this sounds like the kinda stuff that I would like to do, research and design. Excuse my ignorance, but what is a certified engineer? Someone with a mechanical engineering degree?
  9. Feb 28, 2006 #8
    In general in order to work as an engineer you have to certified by a state licensing board (this isn't true of software work, but it is true of fields where people tend to die when you mess up, mech engineering, aero engineering, architecture engineering, etc.). In order to be certified, you have to have an appropriate engineering degree, people with a BS in physics generally can't be certified engineers.
  10. Mar 1, 2006 #9
    I think you should check out Computer/Electrical Engnieering. I think that would be your best bet to get a high paying job with only a BS.
  11. Mar 2, 2006 #10
    ok, what if I decided to go on for an MS? Would that be any different or do I pretty much need to get a PhD to do anything worthwhile in physics?
  12. Mar 2, 2006 #11

    Depends on what you consider worthwhile. To work in academic research you pretty much need a PhD (or be on your to getting one). To work in industry research, this is not necessarily the case.
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