Career In Physics

  • #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.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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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.
 
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  • #3
e.bar.goum
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Two threads down the page at the moment, I said:

Yeah, we don't get paid that badly. Wages strongly depend on your geography. Here are the statistics for US PhD starting salary -- the first job out of a PhD. https://www.aip.org/statistics/employment/salaries Here are some numbers for jobs in the US throughout your career. I don't know how reliable this website is. http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Physicist/Salary median for 5-10 years post PhD is 88K.

A good exercise would be to take a look at job advertisements for the kind of job you'd like to do.
https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...l-and-experimental-physicist-get-paid.834157/

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.
 
  • #4
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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.
 
  • #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.
 
  • #6
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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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