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Employability of various physics fields

  1. Jan 7, 2014 #1
    Hey guys, I was hoping to pick the brains of some of you more experienced students and professionals. I have roughly 2 and 1/2 years left before I receive my B.S. in physics and the farther along I get in my studies the more I realize that there is a lot that I still don't know, go figure. For this reason I am still kind of undecided as to what I want to pursue later on in terms of concentration/specialization within physics, again largely due to my own ignorance, however, I have noticed some common themes and I was wondering what you guys thought of them or what experiences you may have had with both working or applying for jobs in those fields. For example, there seems to be a general consensus that condensed matter physics is the largest field and has the most opportunities, but what exactly is condensed matter physics and what are "those" opportunities that exist? Theoretical physics seems to be labeled as the "sexy" field that gets people initially interested in wanting to study physics to later find that the job prospects are small or non existent. Medical physics is warranted as a very rewarding career however the competition for residency requirements with ph.d students is so great that a M.S. is no guarantee and competing with only a B.S. is almost non existent. I have heard the argument that a physics graduate doesn't always have to dive into a career that is physics based, i.e. they have the analytical skills necessary to be successful in investment banking, actuary science, or work as a manager for a technical based company or entity. The only reason I don't like that argument is that it isn't relevant to employability of physics graduates who want to work in a physics field. So, what are your guys thoughts on this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 7, 2014 #2
    I couldn't help but notice you left out the best concentration... GEOPHYSICS :)

    What exactly are you most interested in? What topics have you enjoyed most in your physics classes? Do you think you want to do "pure" physics or more of an applied or interdisciplinary field? Are you planning on grad school?
  4. Jan 7, 2014 #3
    My thought: You should be planning on going to grad school if you are majoring in physics. The fields of physics you mention are generally applicable to PhDs, not BS graduates.
  5. Jan 7, 2014 #4
    You have 2 and a half years left? Does that mean you've only been studying for 6 months? I forget how long US degrees are... I think maybe exploring different areas of physics before making career decisions. Do more maths- that's always a good thing. Think also about whether you feel going into academia or industry might be more suitable for you
  6. Jan 7, 2014 #5


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    No program is a guarantee, and medical physics is competative, but for what it's worth, CAMPEP is requiring that the programs it accredits post or otherwise make available statistics on their enrollement figures and graduates. I don't know if this has come into effect officially yet or not, however, in the places that are posting them already, it seems that medical physics MSc graduates are tending to move into PhD programs, and most PhD graduates are getting residencies or clinical positions.

    At the BSc level, it's largly medical physics assistant positions that are available. You need at least an MSc to get into medical physics these days and ideally a PhD from an accredited program.
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