Dont Do Phd In Phyiscs

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  • #1
imy786
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Dont Do Phd In Phyiscs!!!

http://www.phys.psu.edu/~endwar/jobs/schwartz.html [Broken]



Brian Schwartz (Brooklyn College and American Physical Society)
"Is There Life After the Physics PhD?"
Physics Colloquium, Oct. 10, 1996, 3:30 PM, 101 Osmond.
and some associated meetings.

[Removed rest of text the one can read in the link]
 
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  • #2
imy786
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well does anyone agree with this artile??

should they do a phd in physics or not??
 
  • #3
ZapperZ
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1. This is from a 1996 article/speech.

2. He's using statistics "... By 1992".

So how up-to-date do you think this is?

I and several others have given the link to the AIP job statistics webpage that has LOT more recent information that does match what you just quote.

BTW, this is from a link and we much PREFER that you do not copy-and-paste it verbatim. Just give the link and that would be sufficient.

Zz.
 
  • #4
imy786
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how did you manage to eidt my post?
 
  • #5
ZapperZ
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how did you manage to eidt my post?

I wiggled my nose.

Zz.
 
  • #6
mr_coffee
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moderators have this special ability.

myspace-graphics-050.jpg


haxxxxxxxed!
 
  • #7
Ki Man
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That paper is outdated, i'm sure we're in a much better situation now
 
  • #8
L62
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It depends on your field. most of my colleagues who are physics postdocs in academia say no, the employment situation for physicists in general is not any better in fact it is far worse now. Just as it is for all PhDs in general. Faculty positions are scarce and highly competitive. Staff positions in national labs are not that common either as most federal agencies are experiencing budget cuts, many physicists are languishing as postdocs waiting indefinitely for academic or research positions to open up, or else are getting out of research and going into industry. Nothing wrong with going into industry, but in my experience most of us do a phD in science because we want to be research scientists. Then again, your field or specialty heavily influences the options available to you and how "transferable" you can be to other sectors or to being able to get in on the current and every-changing "hot" fields which is where there are positions available. My personal advice: don't do a PhD unless you are prepared for a difficult job search afterward.
 
  • #9
imy786
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L62 - are you currently doing a phd in physics?
 
  • #10
L62
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No I got my phd in mechanical engineering but my thesis was more material science. Most of my grad school friends went straight into industry after their phds, but I wanted to continue in research so I went to a national lab and sorta switched fields. Several of my friends, and most of my current set of colleagues, got their Phds in physics, many are having a tough time finding jobs beyond the postdoc. How about you?
 
  • #11
thebluelagoon
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I think it is important to keep your options open. So far I have only decided on a masters in maths and physics. Maybe seeing what job openings there will be after your PhD and where they are likely to be could be a good idea. And there are always positions for physics lecturers - especially here in New Zealand.
 
  • #12
mjsd
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i think all fields today... engineering, conmmerce, science, law... etc. have this problem of "over-production" where there are more graduates than job positions... exception: GPs and medical practitioners are short in supply. Govt.'s wish to push for a "knowledge nation" and that 90% or more of population should go to college or is encouraged to go, as a result, standard at uni/college is falling and usually only the better graduates will get a job.

every year we get yet another "record high" enrolment numbers to gradute school, does that mean PhD gives ppl a better a career flexibility or better future? Does that means now we have more reserach/academic jobs available? ...doubtful... more like faculty wanting more money and down grading requirements.
 
  • #13
thebluelagoon
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Another exception for people with degrees is town planning. There used to be a lot of uni grads going through Beca Carter, seven years ago there were ten new graduates, and this year there was one. How can we have a "knowledge nation" without the menial labourers?
 
  • #14
Dr Transport
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As a PhD Physicist in industry, there are not any jobs here either, to the best of my knowledge we have not hired anyne with a PhD in a while (don't ask for whom I work because I won't say). My friends in other industries are saying the same thing as well as government employees.
 
  • #15
leright
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Dr. Transport, do you think a person with an engineering PhD would be better off than a physics PhD? I want to go to graduate school to study solid state device physics, and I could study this through a physics PhD or an EE PhD. What would you say is my best bet? If I did the EE PhD I would surely takes lots of physics, and vice versa, so either way I think I would have the opportunity to study what I enjoy.
 
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  • #16
CPL.Luke
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hmm I wonder if the situation is similar in other countries outside of the US/UK that could potentially be a big place to start a job search.

I'd imagine alot of chinese schools would hire an american with a phd.
 
  • #17
Chele
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As a PhD Physicist in industry, there are not any jobs here either, to the best of my knowledge we have not hired anyne with a PhD in a while (don't ask for whom I work because I won't say). My friends in other industries are saying the same thing as well as government employees.

I'm following this quite carefully because I am at a crossroads myself as to major in mathematics or in physics. In the physics department at my college, "nearly all" of the full-time graduate students receive full financial support. However, I'm wondering what I could do with it.

I plan to do research this summer as I love within 30 minutes of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and the NASA Langley Research Center. There's GOT to be work there for a PhD!
 
  • #18
Astronuc
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I think in industry there is pressure to pay a little a possible (keep costs down), and a PhD is assumed to expect higher salary than an employee with a BS or MS.

Then there is the argument about being 'over-qualified', which I feel is total nonsense.

I think the key thing is to be diversified. PhDs may tend to be very specialized - or perhaps over-specialized - or rather that is the perception.

I look at a PhD as being qualified to do independent research and one who can push the envelope on the state-of-the-art. That is the way to be and the way to present oneself - but be diversified in one's skills and talents.
 
  • #19
gravenewworld
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As a chemist with a BS working in industry, i would have to agree with a lot of what the article says. PhDs are a dime a dozen these days, especially since PhDs come from over seas to the US in search of jobs. After one of our postdocs time was up at our company he ended up having to work at an amusement park as a cashier because he couldn't find any jobs. You don't need a PhD to work in industry, you only need 1-2 PhDs to look over 20-30 BS and MS chemists and still have a successful program. Companies would much rather higher a BS or MS to do lab work than a PhD because it is cheaper. The question that always comes up is "Why don't they just higher PhDs and pay them as much as a BS?"

Because PhDs all think that they know everything. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO RUN A PROGRAM WITH JUST ALL PHDS. A room full of phds will just argue to no end about all the theory/best way possible to synthesize something. A Phd has a much much harder time taking orders from a manager who has the same level of expertise as them. Case in point- We highered a temp PhD to do some synthesis for us and he was given a procedure to make a compound that was already known to work, however the problem was the fact that the procedure only produced a 20% yield of desired product. This PhD thought he could come up with a better way to synthesize the same product with a better yield so he changed the synthetic route without asking first. Needless to say, although the theory said the reactions should have worked, they didn't and he ended up wasting 1000s of dollars in chemicals and 2 weeks of work for garbage. Sorry, but in industry time=money, if you don't produce results you get fired. The only thing that is important in industry is the end result and how fast you can get there, no one cares about the theory behind it. A PhD who manages 10-15 MS and BS almost always gets desired results faster than when they have to manage other phds.


If you want to work in industry, companies will be wayyyyyyyyy more impressed with 10-20 years experience than they ever will be with a PhD.


LOL we are just talking about organic chemistry PhDs here too. If you decided to get a PhD is say something like Physical Chemistry magnify the problem by 100. You would die of old age before you ever found a job with that degree.
 
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  • #20
Dr Transport
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Dr. Transport, do you think a person with an engineering PhD would be better off than a physics PhD? I want to go to graduate school to study solid state device physics, and I could study this through a physics PhD or an EE PhD. What would you say is my best bet? If I did the EE PhD I would surely takes lots of physics, and vice versa, so either way I think I would have the opportunity to study what I enjoy.

You'll have a chance in the semiconductor industry.
 
  • #21
Dr Transport
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I'm following this quite carefully because I am at a crossroads myself as to major in mathematics or in physics. In the physics department at my college, "nearly all" of the full-time graduate students receive full financial support. However, I'm wondering what I could do with it.

I plan to do research this summer as I love within 30 minutes of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and the NASA Langley Research Center. There's GOT to be work there for a PhD!

First, you have to get hired. From my experience, you will need a post-doc or two and then you might get a chance. The govt labs are not hiring as many people as they used to and are being very selective.
 
  • #22
leright
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You'll have a chance in the semiconductor industry.

Ideally, I would like to be in academia, and both an EE PhD and physics PhD would open some doors for me here....however, if the opportunities are scarce in academia I would like lots of opportunities in industry, especially the semiconductor industry. An EE PhD would be more employable than a physics PhD in this regard?
 
  • #23
Dr Transport
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I'll say this much, the job market for a PhD is limited no matter where you go. If you truly want a PhD, why not get your BS then find a position where you can go back part-time either company paid or self funded and get your Masters and PhD. You get it on you own time-table and get experience. Your company may reward you with an advanced promotion schedule.

When you get your advanced degree, you may be able to choose problems of your own and you can always teach on the side. My co-workers are pushing me to do just the, teach at night because I have too much knowledge to let it lie and not be used.
 
  • #24
leright
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As a chemist with a BS working in industry, i would have to agree with a lot of what the article says. PhDs are a dime a dozen these days, especially since PhDs come from over seas to the US in search of jobs. After one of our postdocs time was up at our company he ended up having to work at an amusement park as a cashier because he couldn't find any jobs. You don't need a PhD to work in industry, you only need 1-2 PhDs to look over 20-30 BS and MS chemists and still have a successful program. Companies would much rather higher a BS or MS to do lab work than a PhD because it is cheaper. The question that always comes up is "Why don't they just higher PhDs and pay them as much as a BS?"

Because PhDs all think that they know everything. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO RUN A PROGRAM WITH JUST ALL PHDS. A room full of phds will just argue to no end about all the theory/best way possible to synthesize something. A Phd has a much much harder time taking orders from a manager who has the same level of expertise as them. Case in point- We highered a temp PhD to do some synthesis for us and he was given a procedure to make a compound that was already known to work, however the problem was the fact that the procedure only produced a 20% yield of desired product. This PhD thought he could come up with a better way to synthesize the same product with a better yield so he changed the synthetic route without asking first. Needless to say, although the theory said the reactions should have worked, they didn't and he ended up wasting 1000s of dollars in chemicals and 2 weeks of work for garbage. Sorry, but in industry time=money, if you don't produce results you get fired. The only thing that is important in industry is the end result and how fast you can get there, no one cares about the theory behind it. A PhD who manages 10-15 MS and BS almost always gets desired results faster than when they have to manage other phds.


If you want to work in industry, companies will be wayyyyyyyyy more impressed with 10-20 years experience than they ever will be with a PhD.


LOL we are just talking about organic chemistry PhDs here too. If you decided to get a PhD is say something like Physical Chemistry magnify the problem by 100. You would die of old age before you ever found a job with that degree.

Ha, well, I would like to be the PhD managing the 20-30 BSs and MSs. To get this manager position, generally one needs a PhD, right? Unfortunately, these positions are scarce.
 
  • #25
leright
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I'll say this much, the job market for a PhD is limited no matter where you go. If you truly want a PhD, why not get your BS then find a position where you can go back part-time either company paid or self funded and get your Masters and PhD. You get it on you own time-table and get experience. Your company may reward you with an advanced promotion schedule.

When you get your advanced degree, you may be able to choose problems of your own and you can always teach on the side. My co-workers are pushing me to do just the, teach at night because I have too much knowledge to let it lie and not be used.

*sigh*

I honestly didn't think the job opportunities for PhDs was THAT bad....especially from what some of my professors have told me.
 
  • #26
Dr Transport
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Ideally, I would like to be in academia, and both an EE PhD and physics PhD would open some doors for me here....however, if the opportunities are scarce in academia I would like lots of opportunities in industry, especially the semiconductor industry. An EE PhD would be more employable than a physics PhD in this regard?

Yes. but then again, you have to get hired and for every PhD position available, there are 10 for a lower level degree and they get filled before advanced degreed positions do because they usually are at a lower salary level.

Think about this, finish your degree and spend the 3-5 years as a post-doc befoer you get your first chance at a permanant position, you are 35 or so if you are lucky. If you get tenure before you are 40 you have lost 15 years in the job market making reasonably decent money and saving for a future. If you wait until you are tenured, you are not going to make the same amount as in industry and will most likely never make up the ground you lost in the long run. My friends in academia who got their degrees at the same time I did make between 25 and 50% less than I do, yes the have tenure but guess what, they will never keep up with me or pass me in the salary colunm or retirement column. I may get laid off tommorow, but I'll find another position. If they don't get tenure, they eirther get another post-doc, try to work in industry or learn the phrase "you want fries with that??". A friend of mine who didn't get tenure is still looking 6 years later without finding a permanant position because no one wants to touch him.

An academic career is noble, but unless you are one of the top 1% I'd not even try.
 
  • #27
gravenewworld
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Ha, well, I would like to be the PhD managing the 20-30 BSs and MSs. To get this manager position, generally one needs a PhD, right? Unfortunately, these positions are scarce.

Not only are they scarce, but as soon as you leave school with your PhD, you are competing against PhDs with 10+ years experience. The ones with more experience will get the job 95% of the time irregardless of where you went to school or whoever your adviser was. It really is a catch 22, companies want people with plenty of experience, but it is extremely hard to get the experience when you come right out of school because it is so hard to get hired.

Industry---> MS is by far the best way to go

Academia---> PhD. Hats off to those who put themselves through the horrendous process of trying to get tenure.
 
  • #28
leright
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Yes. but then again, you have to get hired and for every PhD position available, there are 10 for a lower level degree and they get filled before advanced degreed positions do because they usually are at a lower salary level.

Think about this, finish your degree and spend the 3-5 years as a post-doc befoer you get your first chance at a permanant position, you are 35 or so if you are lucky. If you get tenure before you are 40 you have lost 15 years in the job market making reasonably decent money and saving for a future. If you wait until you are tenured, you are not going to make the same amount as in industry and will most likely never make up the ground you lost in the long run. My friends in academia who got their degrees at the same time I did make between 25 and 50% less than I do, yes the have tenure but guess what, they will never keep up with me or pass me in the salary colunm or retirement column. I may get laid off tommorow, but I'll find another position. If they don't get tenure, they eirther get another post-doc, try to work in industry or learn the phrase "you want fries with that??". A friend of mine who didn't get tenure is still looking 6 years later without finding a permanant position because no one wants to touch him.

An academic career is noble, but unless you are one of the top 1% I'd not even try.

I can see how getting a permanent position and getting tenure at a big 10 university, or an ivy, would be very difficult, but aren't there many opportunities at smaller liberal arts colleges and whatnot?
 
  • #29
Ki Man
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This post should be turned into a poll on whether or not a PhD is worth it

So, PhD in physics = many years of pain just to probably get turned down? this thread isnt very encouraging
 
  • #30
^_^physicist
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I want to add to all of this, that according to my professors (I have not yet checked any statistics so this is should be taken with a spoon of salt), that many in Academia are approaching retirement, and the next generation of professors are going to be needed pretty soon.

For instance, I know that if I manage to finish my undergrad and graduate work before the end of the next decade, at least three of my professors will be retiring, while at the same time the department should be expanding.

So with that in mind, there might be hope still for the few people who actually stuggle themselves through their PhD work.
 
  • #31
Ki Man
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most of our current professors in most univerisities right now are baby boomers, which are starting to retire from the job market by the masses, so in a few years university positions will open up
 
  • #32
Werg22
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Hummm while the prospect of a Phd is inviting to me, I don't want to be naive... personally I am bit skeptical about this "retiring professors prediction".
 
  • #33
ptabor
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What about opportunities in other nations?

I'd be willing to immigrate to China :)
 
  • #34
Dr Transport
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I can see how getting a permanent position and getting tenure at a big 10 university, or an ivy, would be very difficult, but aren't there many opportunities at smaller liberal arts colleges and whatnot?

They still want between 3 and 5 years post-doc'ing and a track record of funding.....

leright said:
I honestly didn't think the job opportunities for PhDs was THAT bad....especially from what some of my professors have told me.

What do they know, they are not part of the real world and honestly what do you think they are going to tell you, "the job market sucks for PhD's, but stay in school and live like a slave"...Their job is to produce PhD's and Masters degrees, they are not going to drive you away with reality.
 
  • #35
leright
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What do they know, they are not part of the real world and honestly what do you think they are going to tell you, "the job market sucks for PhD's, but stay in school and live like a slave"...Their job is to produce PhD's and Masters degrees, they are not going to drive you away with reality.

I consider academia to be very much "the real world", and a was referring to what they have said about job opportunities in academia.
 

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