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Does an undergraduate degree in physics make me a scientist?

  1. Jul 2, 2015 #1
    I was wondering this because an undergraduate degree in any engineering make them an Engineer
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 2, 2015 #2

    russ_watters

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    It isn't actually that simple for either, though a lot of people don't really care about the lables -- and it depends on the question being asked that you are answering with "I am a(n) XXXXX". Often, the question is asking what one does for a living.
     
  4. Jul 2, 2015 #3

    jedishrfu

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    I would say this is more job dependent than degree level dependent. For some jobs, the requirement for a PhD in the sciences implies research capable candidates and hence you'd be considered a scientist.

    If you were in a lab during work for a PhD carrying out specific instructions then you would be a technician or if you were doing more independent work where you'd need to write up your results then maybe you'd be considered a scientist.
     
  5. Jul 2, 2015 #4
    That depends on your definition of the word "engineer." I believe that you need to get an undergraduate degree in engineering and pass the FE exam to be considered an "engineer-in-training." Then, after 4-5 years of experience (and/or grad school depending on your state) and taking and passing the PE exam, then you are a licensed professional engineer.

    That said, the best and brightest engineers I have ever met and worked with are not professional engineers.

    At the end of the day, people care less about labels and more about quality, integrity, production, and reliability. Your name carries more weight than your title.
     
  6. Jul 2, 2015 #5
    In my country all you need to be an engineer is an engineering degree, no exams required! which is quite unfair because a lot of engineering student later do bank jobs and call themselves Engineers
     
  7. Jul 2, 2015 #6
    Also, What should I write under "Profession" or "Occupation" while filling a form or something?
     
  8. Jul 2, 2015 #7

    CWatters

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    In some countries an engineering degree is not sufficient to call yourself an Engineer on a CV. You also need to be a member of a national body and to get membership may require some years of work experience.

    As for being "a scientist".. I prefer the definition that a Scientist is someone who believes and practices the "Scientific Method".

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

    For that reason I laugh when people blame "scientists" for something - because they invariably imply that they themselves aren't a scientist and therefore don't believe in the scientific method. If you don't believe in the Scientific Method then what do you believe in? Witch craft?
     
  9. Jul 2, 2015 #8

    russ_watters

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    That's why is complicated for an engineer. Buy for the classic elevator conversation, the colloquial "I am an engineer" is all one really needs to say. Licensure isn't relevant for most engineering jobs.
     
  10. Jul 2, 2015 #9

    CWatters

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    The title of the thread implies you have a degree in physics but what actually is your occupation? Sadly I'm sure there are many graduates that aren't working in the field they studied. If applying for a job I believe you should always modify your CV to suit the job. If the advert says they are looking for a scientist then call yourself a scientist and rearrange your CV to highlight any relevant experience from your courses.
     
  11. Jul 2, 2015 #10
    As far as I'm concerned, working as a scientist - making a living as one - makes you a scientist. Having a significant track record working as a scientist may also apply, though it's fuzzier.
     
  12. Jul 2, 2015 #11

    Choppy

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    There's a difference between what you have studied and what you do for a living. Sometimes these can be the same thing, but in many cases they are not.

    An undergraduate degree in physics means that you've studied physics. It qualifies you to enter graduate school, but it doesn't really qualify you to enter into a specific profession.

    Engineering on the other hand is a professional degree. An undergraduate degree in engineering qualifies you to enter the profession of engineering. An important distinction here is that in many places engineering is a regulated profession and this means, among other things, that legally only people that meet the standards imposed by the relevant regulating bodies can use the title "engineer." In contrast, anyone off the street can call him or herself a "scientist" or a "physicist" regardless of qualifications because these titles are not protected.

    So in answer to your question if you are asked about your occupation, you fill that out based on what you do to earn money. If you have a degree in physics, but work as a bank teller, then your occupation is "bank teller."
     
  13. Jul 2, 2015 #12

    symbolipoint

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    If currently in an undergraduate degree program, your occupation is "student". After graduating, but before getting your first job in the field, your occupation is "graduated, but unemployed".
     
  14. Jul 3, 2015 #13
    I've been a scientist my whole life. It's in my make-up. The BS in Physics just improved my abilities, mostly in math as the language in which the book of nature is written.

    Doing science is what makes one a scientist. Be sure you do it well.
     
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