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Math ChE, Physics or Pure math?

  1. Jul 6, 2013 #1
    I will become a professor regardless of what major i choose except for maybe engineering. My major will be either ChE, Pure math or Physics. I am currently taking the prequisites for all of these majors so i can change at anytime. With pure math it may be hard to compete for a position against more focused people in the same field -- Probably the same for physics. The fact that I do not want to work over 50 hours a week is an issue for all of these. Don't get me wrong, I do love math and studying nature but I do not want to spend a large majority of my time on just that. I want a career with one of these majors without sacrificing much of my time because I do want to learn other skills in other fields of study later in life. What are my options? How many professors and working engineers actually work less than 50 hours?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2013 #2
    If you really want to teach, and you don't want to work more than 50 hours a week, I would strongly urge you to consider teaching at a community college. You won't have a research requirement, so when you're done grading tests and homework, you're done! My wife has taught at both community colleges and at universities, and there is no doubt that the workload and expectations are lower at the community college. That is NOT to say that the quality of education is any different, but the out-of-class requirements generally do not exist at community colleges.

    Now, about pay... What state do you live in? Some states like Colorado and Texas have all government employee salaries posted online for your perusal. Check out the pay for an adjunct professor at a community college, and the pay for a tenured professor at a university. Are you happy with adjunct professor pay?

    Check out this site for some employee pay info:
  4. Jul 6, 2013 #3
    You make it seem like becoming a professor is easy. You might as well have said, "I'm going to be famous by making the NHL or NBA or NFL, either that or I'm going to become a famous rapper or rock star or actor. Maybe all of the above...''

    All jokes aside, you should consider teacher high school instead. The ones who make it spend their spare time on physics and math or whatever their field. Not counting down hours. On top of that it requires a great deal of luck and connections. Many threads here on these forums mention for every professor there are 10 PHDs lined up for the job or something like that(this is what I have read I have no evidence). You should search this forum because there are already existing threads like this.

    EDIT: the part about 1 professor and 10 phd is a mistake. Its something more along the lines of every professor trains 10 phds in their lifetime. I can't remember exactly so just type into the search '' becoming a professor'' or anything like that
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013
  5. Jul 6, 2013 #4
    You completely ignored my engineering option. High school is out of the question -- im not a babysitter.
  6. Jul 6, 2013 #5
    Community colleges have been replacing full-time faculty in favor of adjuncts for years now. Career positions at community college may well be VERY scarce by the time the OP finishes a phd (10 years from now, or more).

    Near as I can tell, the median pay for an adjunct is between 2500 and 3000 per course. That means a full teaching load might get you ~25k a year, no benefits. Thats not a career.

    Make the next logical step- in steady-state how many phds can get jobs as professors? (1/10). But are we in steady state? No, college faculties have been shrinking in favor of adjuncts. So its less than 1/10.
  7. Jul 6, 2013 #6
    community colleges dont require a phd.

    I dont remember talking about money at all.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013
  8. Jul 6, 2013 #7

    People are trying to lend you advice (that you asked for) and you are being sort of a snob. I'm not really sure why they are even trying to help you... You seem to believe that you are entitled to something.
  9. Jul 6, 2013 #8
    From my knowledge, CC's require a minimum of a master's to teach.

    Your assumption that you are guaranteed to be professor is amusing at best. Honestly, if you're not willing to put in the time that's required to be a professor or teacher, how can you expect to get there? The grad students (that I know) going for their masters spend ~70 hours a week doing research, not counting their classes and such.

    If you're going for a CC, then it may be easier; but I can guarantee you will be working more than 50 hours a week to ends meet, especially with how they pay. If you're going for a professorship at a university; unless you are willing to compromise on your willingness to work long hours, you should give up. The professors at universities were grad students for about 5 years or so for their Ph.D. (and you can bet they were working at least 80 hours a week). Then they had (at least) one post doctoral appointment for 3-4 years, all while working long hours, only to work long hours at the university (if they were even hired - another difficulty entirely) to get tenure. You're looking at working for ~80 hours a week for a minimum of about 10 years to even be competitive...if your research was of high quality.

    All in all, if you're not willing to put in the hours, you're looking at the wrong career.
  10. Jul 7, 2013 #9


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    I'm actually surprised that there are as many full-time instructors in community colleges. Perhaps there is a difference between Canadian and American community colleges, but I have always assumed that the instructors there are predominately part-time adjuncts.

    That being said, if as you said that community college faculties are shrinking in favour of adjuncts, perhaps the next logical step would be for many of these schools to shut down or close completely.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2013
  11. Jul 7, 2013 #10


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    To the OP:

    I assume that you are a first year student based on your above post. My advice is for you to wait to see how much you enjoy your courses or your interests before determining which field to major in.

    Now to your point regarding working 50 hours -- how many hours you will work will vary considerably, depending on which type of company or organization you are working for. For example, if you work at a start-up, expect to put in somewhere from 60-80 hours per week (but with a potential opportunity for rapid advancement as well as an opportunity to be given senior responsibilities fairly quickly). On the other hand, if you work for a large organization, you will likely have fairly regular work hours (40-50) for the most part.

    It's also worth keeping in mind that in many companies or organizations you have the opportunity to learn new skills while on the job. Furthermore, if you are working in one area and want to move within a firm in a different area, some companies will offer their employees funds to seek further training. So these are the things you should think about as well.
  12. Jul 7, 2013 #11
    Great advice. The difficulty in material will scale pretty dramatically once you hit your math methods class. That'll be the true test of how much you really enjoy physics.

    From what has been said so far, I think engineering is probably much more up your alley. I worked at Lockheed for 3 years (in IT, not as an engineer or scientist) and saw 95% of the workforce clock < 50 hour weeks for the vast majority of the year. Same goes for my friends who work as civilian scientists for the Air Force. And you only need a bachelor's degree. MPA/MBA would make you even more competitive.
  13. Jul 7, 2013 #12
    I want a toilet seat of gold and world peace.

    Are you being serious dude? I think it's pretty obvious that you have no idea what you're getting in to. There is no 9-5, mon-fri when it comes to PhD in any of the stuff you listed.
    Do you even know what PhD stands for? It stands for love of knowledge - the people who go for a PhD are the type of people who could spend their spare time studying physics because it is that much more interesting to them than it is for you. You should prepare for **** pay, long hours, hard work and a competitive environment.
  14. Jul 7, 2013 #13
    Not technically, but the competition is so fierce that you might consider it a de-facto requirement. (Unless you are teaching at southern north dakota community college and the like)

    I spent many years working at a few community colleges as a tutor. Only once did I see a full time position open and PhDs were flying in from all over to interview for it. One even flew in from Europe.

    Its a very sweet job, a dream job to many, so understandably its very tough to get.
  15. Jul 7, 2013 #14


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    I cannot speak for the OP, but from his post I believe he was referring to finding a career that involves working 50 hours or less a week after earning his PhD in math, physics, or completing a degree in chemical engineering.

    Of course, pursuing your PhD is not a 9 to 5 job. It involves a lot of hard work and effort to pursue the research that ultimately will reward you with that PhD. But that does not mean that you will necessarily have to continue to work 80-100 hours a week afterwards; that will depend on what type of employer you will be working for.
  16. Jul 7, 2013 #15
    Youre using "snob" incorrectly or misunderstand what is going on here because you havent taken into account all the details i listed.

    Engineering option completely ignored.

    Everyone pay attention to this post.

    This is a dude that understands what is going on. Saw that it was impossible for me to become a professor with my limitations/constraints so he told me to go with the engineering option.

    This is off-topic, but I don't understand the value of "low-life-ing" one thing -- it does not make much sense. We all know that Leibniz focused on a wide variety of subjects. Spending all your time on one thing does not seem healthy.

    Also the rigor of a subject is objective. It does not become more or less difficult just because others have achieved "this" or "that". Education quality is not relative to another's education quality. It is all constant. If only one person could understand elementary algebra, would that change the difficulty of it? no. Get what Im saying?

    Anyways, besides Leibniz, many other smart people spent their lives on more than one thing. I have no clue where this value of "low-life-ing" for one subject came from, but I do not believe it is how humans were suppose to live.

    This is another example of a person that understands what is going on except the PhDs were meant for becoming a professor. The engineering option is there.
  17. Jul 7, 2013 #16

    Vanadium 50

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    Like the last one, this thread has gone downhill. Closed.
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