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Physics Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice?

  1. Nov 27, 2009 #1
    So I was checking out employment opportunities after doing a B.Sc. in Physics, because as someone who is 24 years old and now seriously contemplating a second undergraduate degree (this time in Physics), I need to know what kind of job could I realistically hope to get, should I decide to get this degree and should my age/lack of funds prevent me from graduate studies. And what I found was that there's a lot of jobs for bachelors that don't involve that much physics, be it either jobs as programmers or jobs in finance etc. where you "only" use the transferrable skills you get by studying Physics. However, I was wondering whether that is so because people actually choose they would rather work in those areas or is this due to lack of jobs directly related to physics? I guess what I'm asking is if I wouldn't want to work such a job, would I have options, where I could use physics to a greater extent, still open? I know this might seem like too general of a question, but I'm just looking for some answers to these questions, though I'm aware that I probably can't get an answer that would fully depict the picture of my future.

    Thanks in advance nonetheless.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2009 #2
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    I don't see how your age or your lack of funds prevents your from doing grad school. I am 24 and I get paid to be in grad school (this is almost always the case). I'm also confused. If you already have a B.Sc. in physics then why are you considering going back for a second physics bachelour?
     
  4. Nov 27, 2009 #3
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    I don't think that lack of funds such be that much of a concern since schools need cheap labor to teach courses.

    For bachelors degrees there isn't a huge amount that you can do directly with physics that doesn't involve graduate school, and a huge number of people that get bachelors physics degrees figure out that they aren't intellectual masochists. The good news is that pretty much everyone finds something somewhere. There are a pretty large number of physics bachelors that end up in management consulting or teaching high school.
     
  5. Nov 28, 2009 #4
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    I have a degree in Law, so I'd need to start all over again with Physics, meaning I'd be ~35 (a.k.a. somewhat old for hitting the job market for the first time) when I'd be done with my PhD, should I of course take that road and should everything go as planned.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2009
  6. Nov 28, 2009 #5
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    Something is not right. You say you have a degree in law, but that is impossible because there is no B.S/B.A in law, unless you went to law school. In which case, you would have a degree in a non-physics subject before you can get to law school.

    Are you thinking of going for a BS in physics, then Ph.D in physics?
     
  7. Nov 28, 2009 #6
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    Well, I live in Europe (Slovenia), where we actually don't need pre-law. So studying Law is the same as studying any other subject at the university (well, it's a lot harder, I'd say, but still ...), and I therefore do have a degree (akin to LL.B. probably).

    As far as your question is concerned, I am contemplating that, yeah. Because from what I've read here, it's more or less useless to stop at the bachelor's level if you really want to work with Physics, because you seem to be likely to "get stuck" with some job that perhaps requires some skills attained by studying Physics, but not actually physics knowledge itself.
     
  8. Nov 28, 2009 #7
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    Funny thing, Ryker. i second guess you are not from the U.S from reading your post. If your plan come true, then that means you are out in the market at 35. From what i know, physics ph.d that do want to work in physics tend to work for many years as a postdoc, and becoming a source of cheap labor while much more better options are in the private sector of the economy.
     
  9. Nov 28, 2009 #8
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    Yeah, the age thing is one thing that's really holding me back from making that final decision on the plunge into physics. As for working in academia, that does hold a high appeal, but I am by no means opposed to working in the industry (I'd love doing research there, developing products, working in observatiories, doing nuclear-related work etc.), just not on something that I'm not too keen on.
     
  10. Nov 28, 2009 #9
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice


    Maybe you can find a company that has the prospect of paying for and edu for you, while you working for them? Is that possible?
     
  11. Nov 28, 2009 #10
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    Ryker,
    I currently hold a BS in Physics, found a job in industry doing physics and I am currently in grad school for my MS in physics. I choose this route on purpose because I knew industry would pay for me to get a masters, and my PhD while paying me as a full time employee. It is sort of the best of both worlds, when I get finished with my PhD I'll be probably 35ish, I'll have about 10 years of experience in industry I won't have any of the student debt that I would had I gone straight through school. Yeah it also means that for the next 9 years I'll be in school and working which can be tuff, but in the end it will be well worth it.
     
  12. Nov 28, 2009 #11
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    I don't know, I guess it's hard to really tell, this would of course be great if someone was willing to pay for my education. I figure that'd only be applicable for graduate studies, but as far as undergraduate studies are concerned, my parents, loans and what little I have of saving would help me get through it.
     
  13. Nov 28, 2009 #12
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    Vinny_R, where do you live, Canada, USA, UK, any other country? Because I was thinking of studying in the UK or Canada, so I was wondering how far your experience could apply to my situation.

    And what kind of job did you get? Was it hard getting one that you liked or did you have more options available? Oh, and did you also start late with your studies or how come you're gonna finish your Ph.D. at 35ish?
     
  14. Nov 28, 2009 #13
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    Ryker,
    I live in the States, I got be BS when I was 22 and started my MS when I was 24, I am 26 now and I've got 3 classes left and still need to get the thesis written. It takes a bit longer if you're working and going to school at the same time. I should be done with my MS in about a year from now, and I'll start my PhD course work when I am 28, I figure it'll take about 7 years to complete because I will be working at the time as well.
    It took about 8 months for me to get a job after I got done with school, partly because I was picky about wanting to work at a place that encouraged people to go to grad school and partly cause I went to a no name school. I ended up getting a job in the defense industry, which is nice.
     
  15. Nov 28, 2009 #14
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    So what do you actually do, is it more demanding stuff or merely operating machines and whatnot? And if you happen to know, what did your fellow graduates end up with (those who only had a B.Sc.), what kind of jobs? I'm hope I'm not too nosy, I just really want to get a realistic picture of what to expect, and I find this is best done by getting as much info as I can, and from various sources (anecdotal AND official statistics), as well.
     
  16. Nov 28, 2009 #15
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    I've done several things; I've done some research on device physics of solar cells with the objective of achieving a higher efficiency, I've worked on projects that involve using specific properties of lasers for sensors against targets of interest, I don't operate machinery in the sense of going out and say moving something with a crane, I do use tools to help me in my research and in demonstrations to customers. I am not simply a lab assistant to a more senior scientist, and I have been given many opportunities to conduct my own research. I've done a lot of computer simulations, so basically in a sense I've got a desk job.
    As far as other folks, most went on to be teachers, 1 went on to be a PhD student in Applied Math, and another is currently unemployed.
     
  17. Nov 29, 2009 #16
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    Seems you got yourself a cool job, varied and dynamic, though I am not a bit disheartened by hearing that your fellow graduates weren't as fortunate (well, perhaps they've chosen to be teachers and weren't "forced", so I may be giving them too little credit).
     
  18. Dec 1, 2009 #17
    Re: Do Physics bachelors choose non-physics jobs or is this sometimes the only choice

    Teaching is one of the options available to you if you don't want to push on through the Ph.D.. If you love teaching, you certainly do feel 'fortunate' to be in that career.

    That's what I did...aside from discovering in grad school that I really loved teaching, two of the big reasons I chose the career were that I would be able to continue studying on my own and taking classes to enhance my knowledge in physics, and that I would be reinforcing my knowledge through teaching. Most of the other career paths I investigated allowed little to no real continued education in physics or were hyper-specialized, and they provided little to no time to pursue it on my own.
     
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