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Employment Prospects, general STEM interest, for a Sophomore at a state university

  1. Nov 11, 2014 #1
    Hello all,

    I am currently a sophomore enrolled at a state university, with generally good STEM education (regularly ranked top 50 in the US in engineering, cs, physics, astronomy, etc). I am a Physics major CS minor at this particular moment, mainly because I seem to particularly enjoy physics. However, since I've only taken courses through Thermo and Wave Motion in the subject, I suppose it is not really fair to say whether I love it or not yet.

    To get straight to the point, I recently discovered some news that has "snapped me out" of a generally happy go lucky view on education, and greatly motivated me to consider job prospects straight out of college. Let's just say there's a proverbial bun in my lady's oven. Before anyone says not to base my major purely on job prospects, I should state that I generally like learning any topic. Even through high school and to now, I haven't taken any classes that I would consider a waste or that boring. Any learning is growth to me, and I just love the pursuit of knowledge.

    Finally I think I've bored you enough with my life story to get to the question(s):

    Is a physics major or applied math major, with an engineering minor enough to get employed as an engineer? To answer a question before it is asked, I can't switch to an engineering major and graduate in four years and that is extremely important to me given my dependence on my four year scholarship.

    In addition, job prospects for high school teachers in physics and math are still great, right? I believe I would enjoy teaching high school as much as anything else, given how much I love teaching people the many neat and interesting things I learn in my classes (even if they don't love hearing about it lol). On the topic of the not so hot salaries of teachers, that's fine with me, I'm just aiming to find a job I would enjoy straight out of college more or less.

    I apologize in advance if these questions have been asked dozens of times, but I've failed to find threads on difficulty of finding employability of physics/applied math with a minor in eng, and how that affects salary. In addition, I feel that I've seen half the people say you can easily find a job as a physics or math teacher, and half say teacher job prospects aren't too great now either.

    Thanks for reading. Best wishes.
    -The Geometrist
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 12, 2014 #2


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    A physics major with an engineering minor is technically enough to get a job as an engineer, but there is more competition for jobs than you might expect and it will be MUCH, MUCH easier for you to get an engineering job with an engineering degree. Much easier. This is really the fault of the hiring systems at most companies but it is what it is. Some customs are stupid but you still have to respect them.

    You typically have to get a teaching credential to be a teacher (you can get an emergency credential to teach STEM depending on your state). You will have to go back to school within a couple of years if you want to be a career teacher. That said, a LOT of people burn out of teaching. It's a really hard job for a number of reasons.

    I know you're not asking for advice, but if you want to be an electrical engineer for instance, get a degree in EE. I was a physics major until a internship in HEP during the summer after my sophomore year showed me the light and I changed to EE.
  4. Nov 12, 2014 #3
    Thanks for the information. I suppose that would be the reason I rarely hear of engineering minors. The thing is that my school used to have an Engineering Math program that was nearly identical to an applied math major and engineering minor here. To my knowledge, those majors were typically employed as engineers without much trouble. It sure is depressing that the education you get isn't as important as your degree title, but hey, that's life I suppose. Would an internship in the field of engineering I minor in help at all?

    Also, the advice is gladly accepted. I'd much rather be told what it's like straight up than the "a physics bachelors can easily be an engineer!" optimistic view that the dept. will typically tell you. It would appear that my best bet for employment right after college is to get my bachelor's in engineering or computer science, then, as the advice generally goes.
  5. Nov 12, 2014 #4


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    Well your education is what makes your career successful, the piece of paper only opens the door. An engineering internship is a fantastic idea, as that also gets your foot in the door, especially with the organization offering the internship. I highly recommend that over doing summer research.

    Another idea is to try to get an MS in engineering before you join the workforce. That's a strong degree and then your physics BS wouldn't matter one bit.
  6. Nov 12, 2014 #5
    Oops, I may have been slightly unclear on the bit about education. I didn't mean the title was actually more important, I was saying it's unfortunate that a major with engineering in the title can get you in the door, when the exact same courses at the exact same university, but called Applied Math with a minor in a field of Engineering, won't do much for you as far as applying for jobs. This is how it appears at least, I'm of course no expert on this subject.

    The MS is something I will definitely consider, as is the internship. For now I'll have to wait and see how things play out in my classes. Thanks for the input, analogdesign.
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