Career in academia or government/industrial work?

In summary, the conversation discusses a junior majoring in physics who plans to pursue a PhD in nuclear physics. The individual is interested in eventually becoming a professor and conducting research in QCD. They inquire about the best career path after obtaining a PhD, whether it is in academia or government/industrial work. The conversation concludes with the suggestion to speak with a faculty member to better understand the typical career path and job market in physics. It is mentioned that industry may be a one-way door for those interested in pursuing a career in academia.
  • #1
tbirgy
5
0
Hi,

I'm currently a junior majoring in physics and intend on going to graduate school to get a PhD in nuclear physics after graduation. This post may be premature, as I'm not even in grad school yet, but I have a general question about a career in physics.

I would eventually like to work as a professor, conducting research in QCD. Right after getting a PhD, would it be most beneficial to pursue a career in government/industrial work or would it be more helpful to try to get a position in academia?

Thanks!
 
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  • #2
For eventually ending up as faculty, you will likely need to go through several postdocs of 2-3 years each in order to have a shot at a tenure track position. I do not know anyone who has gone to industry and ended up with a faculty job in a more theoretical subject like QCD.

I would suggest you sit down with someone doing more or less what you want to do (preferably a faculty member at your university) and ask what the typical carreer path would look like and how the job market looks like.
 
  • #3
Yeah I only know one professor who started in industry, but he's in a different area of physics so I thought I would ask. Thank you!
 
  • #4
For physics, "government" which I think should be read as a postdoc at a National Lab, is just as valuable as an academic postdoc. Industry is a different animal and I would consider getting a job in industry a one-way door.
 

Related to Career in academia or government/industrial work?

1. What is the difference between working in academia and government/industrial work?

Academia refers to the academic world, typically involving teaching and research at universities or colleges. Government/industrial work refers to employment in government agencies or private companies where scientific research is conducted for practical applications. The main difference is the focus and goals of the work, with academia focusing on advancing knowledge and government/industrial work focusing on solving real-world problems.

2. What are the benefits of pursuing a career in academia?

One of the main benefits of working in academia is the opportunity to conduct research and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in your field. Additionally, academia offers job stability, flexible work hours, and the opportunity to mentor and teach the next generation of scientists.

3. How does one transition from academia to government/industrial work?

The transition from academia to government/industrial work can be achieved through networking, gaining experience through internships or postdoctoral positions, and showcasing relevant skills and experience on your resume. It is also helpful to research the specific requirements and qualifications for the desired position and tailor your application accordingly.

4. What are the challenges of working in government/industrial research?

Some challenges of working in government/industrial research include the pressure to produce results that have practical applications, limited funding and resources, and strict timelines and deadlines. There may also be less freedom in choosing research topics compared to academia.

5. Is it possible to have a career that combines academia and government/industrial work?

Yes, it is possible to have a career that combines academia and government/industrial work. This can be achieved through collaborations and partnerships between universities and government agencies or private companies, or through joint appointments where an individual works part-time in academia and part-time in government/industrial research.

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