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Careers in Industry with Some Physics (Another EE, Physics Grad. Degree Thread)

  1. Oct 13, 2012 #1
    Hi, all. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics last spring from a top ten U.S. school and I’m currently looking into graduate programs. My goal is to have a career in an industry that satisfies these criteria

    1. Produces practical, socially beneficial results
    2. Involves at least some physics thinking (as opposed to “by-the-book”, rote engineering)
    3. Has some job security
    4. Pays decently (after years of educational grind I’d like to not have to worry about money)
    5. Is in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado or around those places (I’d like to live close to family)
    6. Doesn’t force me to move frequently (I don’t like having to make new friends every 3 years…)

    I’ve concluded that a career in academia doesn’t satisfy criteria 3, 4 and 6. I guess this leaves me with industry and government labs. As far as I’ve been able to tell, the following industries satisfy some of these criteria

    a. Semiconductors and related devices (weak on criterion 3 due to outsourcing, strong on criterion 5)
    b. Medical technologies, in particular imaging devices and plasmonics (maybe weak on criterion 5, I’m not sure. I think due to regulations a lot medical technology stuff has to be done in the U.S. so I think criterion 3 is strong. )
    c. Telecommunications, in particular RF devices and satellite work
    d. Solar photovoltaics (currently weak on criterion 3 due to market volatility, in the future it might still be weak due to outsourcing, but if solar PVs become financial feasible it’ll be very high-growth, so I’m not sure…)
    e. The financial industry, to some extent (weak on criterion 2, maybe weak on criterion 1…)

    My questions are: is my thinking correct, and, if so, which graduate degrees should I pursue to establish a career in one of these industries? I’m thinking about getting a master’s in electrical engineering and a master’s in AMO or condensed matter physics. I think the master’s in EE would guarantee me entry into the industries a-d and the master’s in physics would make me better able to adapt as these industries evolve. For example, there are apparently many new biomedical applications for plasmonics.

    If you’ve gotten this far, thank you very much for your time! Finally, what are your thoughts?
  2. jcsd
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