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Career in astrophysics or math

  1. Nov 24, 2015 #1
    Hi, so I am currently in tenth grade, from India preparing for my boards.
    I am worried about my future career as I have no clear idea and I need guidance. I get good grades in maths and I like physics and sciences.
    I have always been fascinated my astrophysics and have read The theory of everything by Stephen hawking and watched NASA programmes and i have always dreamed of working there.
    But is astrophysics a promising career with good future opportunities and a good pay?
    If yes, then what should be my career path?
    Is it better to do mechanical engineering before astrophysics degree? Because all people who I have come across have done that.

    Also, I love maths!! So is there any promising career in maths too?

    Or should I get into IIT ?

    In the end, I want to do something in sciences and maths.

    Thanks for your time :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2015 #2
    If its money you want, don't go into academia. Do you mean IT or IIT? Because you speak as if its the easiest thing to do. IIT is tough to get into if you want a particular course. If you're not particular about ending up with something like metallurgy or agricultural engineering and you're fairly smart and very, very hard working, then it isn't that hard. Also, if you've just finished your boards, you want to make a decision about this engineering vs science thing. Because India does not have many good institutes for pure science. If you want to do pure science, its better to apply to the US or the UK where both research and career prospects are better for science right now. That might change because our government is trying to encourage science, but who knows how long it will take?

    Just one thing to add- there is often a stigma that if you don't earn piles and piles of money, you aren't successful. Or that a career that does not pay well is not a ' promising' one with lots of 'prospects'. I don't believe that is true. If you can find a job that you enjoy and you make enough money to live a comfortable life ( i believe a career in academia pays enough for that) then it's a good job. It is your call whether you believe in one or the other and there is nothing wrong with each point of view. This is just something you need to consider before choosing whether you want to go into academia.

    Doing mechanical engineering for undergrad gives no advantage in a career in astrophysics. All it does do is postpone your decision between pure science and engineering a bit longer.
  4. Nov 27, 2015 #3

    By get into iit I meant iit training .. Yes Im thinking about future studies in the us. I still have to give my boards. I'm actually more inclined towards th science thing interest wise as compared to engineering.
    By money making I didn't mean loads I meant sufficient for a good living. And what I've seen mostly on this forum and others is that most of the astrophysicists end up being professors which I don't want to. I want to get into research and work in that field. Not teaching..
    Thanks, that helped :)
  5. Nov 27, 2015 #4
    There is nothing wrong with teaching. It is a noble profession. Second, a lot of professors are at the frontlines of modern research.
    Richard Feynman ended up being a professor and he loved teaching. It was actually while he was teaching that he came up with the stuff that won him the Nobel Prize.
    Hans Bethe taught at Cornell and he enjoyed it.
    Leonard Susskind( the father of string theory) is a professor. Basically, being a professor doesn't mean that you're not going to be making scientific breakthroughs.
    Also, a point to note- professors make more money.
  6. Nov 27, 2015 #5
    About IIT coaching. Whatever you do, do it. It is very good for mental development. It challenges you and makes you a lot better at thinking analytically and out of the box.
    I'm in XII th now, writing college essays and things. I did IIT coaching for one year and then stopped when it became too big a time commitment as I had my applications, essays etc to do.
  7. Nov 27, 2015 #6
    Researchers in an area like Astrophysics are almost exclusively professors in Academia. Being a professor is not just teaching, there is also a huge research component to it, and in areas like physics and mathematics professors often do research with the help of students and can take "sabbaticals", which is a time period where they are excused from teaching to do nothing but research. In fact, for physicists in particular (especially ones currently working at topics which require lots of creativity), having students to explain things to and teach not only keeps your skills very sharp and refreshes the basics but also inspires many ideas and helps keep productivity up.
  8. Nov 27, 2015 #7
    Intraverno is right. I'm basically defending this because it is a career path I want to follow, but still....
    I have found that when I explain something to my friends I get sudden ideas and I go...ohhhhh. When there is a tough sum and I try talking to someone about it, I get the physics behind it really quickly.
    Basically, keep an open mind. Don't say " I do not want to teach" when you're 15 years old. Wait till you know more about the world, about physics, about what the career paths entail before you close yourself to it.
  9. Nov 30, 2015 #8
    Thanks so much much both for your advice :)
  10. Dec 11, 2015 #9
    I need some serious advice.
    Is a career in astrophysics a promising one? Is there a future for astrophysicists?
    Is there a demand for astrophysicists and researchers in this field?
    Is it advisable to take up this career? Any astrophysicist here?

    If yes, what would be the career path and which is the best university in this field?

    Thank you :)
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