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Difference in Physics Career Fields

  1. Oct 26, 2014 #1
    I am 15 and in high school and recently there has been a big push in our school system to decide on your career now. For the past 7 years I have had it in my mind to become a nuclear physicist. Now, however, I can not decide on what physics field to go into. I can not choose between nuclear, astro or theoretical physics. In the past I have read over career descriptions but what would the career actually be like? Words are often forged to play on the beliefs of others and I wish to know what really occurs at the job sites.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2014 #2


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    The school system cannot force you to make a specific choice now. The system could at best, make you TRY to make a BROAD DECISION as soon as possible so that you have a sense of direction; and you MUST be allowed to explore along that direction and change your mind.
  4. Oct 27, 2014 #3


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    It's great that you have a deep interest in physics.

    For the most part the education path that most physicists follow beyond high school is a bachelor's degree in physics. After that, you specialize in graduate school when you start working towards a PhD. That's where you would be deciding between nuclear physics, astrophysics, etc. Students make that decision by (in no particular order):
    - taking senior undergraduate physics courses in a number of different sub-fields
    - participating in research projects through summer jobs, volunteering, or through senior/thesis projects in their fourth year of under grad
    - reading
    - talking and sharing experiences with other undergraduates
    - talking with professors, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students
    - and even trial and error.

    There are lots of threads around about what a physicist actually does. The specifics vary from specialty to specialty. There are also lots of threads about how difficult it is to get a job in academia. The moral of the story, usually, is to make sure you have a backup plan for your career, as most people who get a PhD in physics don't end up as professors.
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