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Career In Physics

  1. Sep 23, 2015 #1
    My dream job would be to research and study physics but I'm aware that it is an extremely competitive field and the chances of that happening are slim at best. So I am now at a crossroads. I am about to head off to college and I want to figure out what I should do. I definitely want to pursue my curiosity in physics, and at the same time be employed somewhere that I am not making minimum wage selling burgers.

    I am just looking for opinions, mostly from physics majors, on life after college with a physics degree. Should I go for a PhD in physics? Should I major in physics and another subject like math or engineering?

    Any thoughts and ideas are helpful, thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2015 #2
    Physics majors generally do not make minimum wage, nor do they sell burgers (unless they decide they want to be chefs). There are plenty of salary statistics out there for physics majors as well as physics Ph.D holders.
  4. Sep 23, 2015 #3


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    Two threads down the page at the moment, I said:


    Further, the unemployment rate of physics majors (no PhD) is far lower than average, and the unemployment rate of physics PhDs is even lower (~3%, IIRC). Someone with a physics PhD might not necessarily get a permanent job in academia, but they are very unlikely to be unemployed, and unlikely to be poorly paid.
  5. Sep 23, 2015 #4
    I believe generally the best advice, as well, is that, particularly if you only get your B.S., but also for Ph.D holders, you should develop marketable skills. That can be easily done in any decent physics program. It's fun to do pen-and-paper physics, but if you get some marketable skills as well, and if you can show that you have those skills, you'll be good.
  6. Sep 26, 2015 #5
    Basically what I'm asking is what are some options as jobs (with a physics degree) if I don't get a job researching physics.
  7. Sep 26, 2015 #6
    Similar to the job options of many other degrees. Physics graduates have gone on to teach, do engineering, IT, programming, armed forces and similar areas. Physics graduates have even gone on to create successful TV programs (Mike Judge) and become heads of state (Angela Merkel). All the options that any old generic degree holder has are usually open to physics graduates, as well as some technical areas. A physics degree alone does not prepare you for anything specific. The marketable skills from research, internships, and networking you do will open your first doors and how you perform after that is what opens further doors to who knows what.
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