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Physics Career in Physics

  1. Nov 13, 2006 #1
    I am considering in majoring in Physics at Cu Boulder.
    What are some opportunities(jobs) with a Bachelors in physics?
    Also, what does it take to work with particle accelerators?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2006 #2

    D H

    Staff: Mentor

    It depends on whether you want to get paid. If you are willing to work for free, all it takes is a BS in Physics and acceptance into a thesis-level graduate program. You will need a PhD in Physics if you actually want to get paid for your work.

    An undergraduate physics degree gives an excellent background for many kinds of technical work. Think of it as a liberal arts degree for engineers and scientists. But, like a liberal arts degree, you should not expect to be able to work directly in your field with only an undergraduate degree.

    Unless you want to work for free, that is.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2006
  4. Nov 14, 2006 #3
    I'd beg to differ. Look at the AIP and APS web sites -- they have some graphs and tables about what people with physics degrees get paid for different types of work with varying degrees of education. Also look at the recent thread here: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=143104

    Edit -- I also know for a fact that CU is pretty good with their undergrads. Otherwise they wouldn't have the large graduating classes that they do have... a faculty member at CU said their graduating physics classes have ~50 students in physics and engineering physics combined... and one of the engineering physics undergrads from CU said that most of the physics engineering grads take most classes in physics and have physics faculty as advisors (not engineering).
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2006
  5. Nov 14, 2006 #4


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    The BEST thing for you to do is look at all the job opening advertisements aimed at physicists. I have listed several here. This will tell you of the type of jobs in physics at a particular level.


    It depends entirely on what you want to do with a particle accelerators. If all you want to do is be an operator of an accelerator, then a M.Sc degree is usually sufficient. However, if you plan on doing research work on the physics of accelerators, then a doctorate degree in accelerator physics, or related fields (EE) is required.

  6. Nov 14, 2006 #5
    Thanks guys, at first it was looking like civil engineering but it's too specific. But I decided that I could do so much more with a physics degree, there is really a lot of options.
  7. Nov 14, 2006 #6

    D H

    Staff: Mentor

    Beg to differ with what? Your post, ZapperZ's post, and the web site links confirm what I said in my first post.

    I am not saying that getting a bachelors in physics is pointless. Far from it. I have a BS in Applied and Engineering Physics. It has served me quite well over the years even though my job is not, and has never been, directly in the field of physics.

    I looked at those graphs and tables. This one is particularly informative:
    http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/highlite/bachplus5b/table2.htm. The top three factors that influence the salary of a person with a bachelors degree in physics 5 to 9 years out of college are
    • Working in a software job
    • Being in management
    • Having a non-physics advanced technical degree

    Having an undergraduate degree in physics provides an excellent basis for pursuing a non-physics advanced degree and for doing many different kinds of technical work, including software. But that advanced degree is not in physics, and most software jobs involve physics peripherally at best. Those in software and those with a non-physics advanced degree most likely have a non-physics career.

    I was being a bit facetious in my first paragraph. Those who work in physics for (nearly) free have another name: lab assistants, aka PhD candidates.:smile: I should have put the smiley in my first post.
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