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Physics Engineer or physicist?

  1. Sep 30, 2017 #21
    I sure hope so. But most of the inventions of experimental physicists are for conducting research in specific areas of experimental physics. Most of what we invent won't find its way into cars, planes, electronics, or other consumer goods. Most of the time, our inventions simply enable us to be the first to make some new investigations or discoveries that become possible through the new tools. Then, it is common for a few dozen other scientists working in the same or related fields to also make use of our invention.
  2. Oct 24, 2017 #22
    I did not want to post another thread, so I will just post here (it is my thread afterall)
    I discovered something new in me. I am currently studying high level physics on my own as I am in school right now and there is a lot of free time (still have 2 years till I join a university) and the new thing is that, I can't stop myself from learning more. I am absolutely loving physics (I am currently studying GR and occasionally take up theories related to time travel and discover new things) so I think I have found what I should do. I will take up physics as I have more interest in it than engineering. But there is one thing...We are not that rich so we will be taking a loan most likely when I start my studies. So I have to repay that loan and hence need money quickly. Engineering will take 6 years but if I do physics, I heard phd is necessary so atleast 10 years.
    I want to know is it really necessary to do phd in order to become a physicist? PhD is basically original research, right? So that means if I do research while studying and be able to publish some work (hypothetical, don't take it seriously. I know it is hard to do original work) will I still need to do phd? Also if I go with engineering (mechatronics) and study physics side by side while stydijg/working, will that be enough to do some private research?
  3. Oct 24, 2017 #23


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    Read this:


    Do you think you'd be able to have the same type of skills and experience that a typical physics PhD program demands? And no, PhD does NOT just mean "original research". That is just one part of it. Graduate level work AND other requirements are also part of a PhD program.

  4. Oct 24, 2017 #24
    The job market in fancy/fundamental physics is horrible, I'd double major in engineering (preferably materials or electrical) and physics or a minor in physics. Heck, the job market in any physics with no industrial relevance is pretty awful, to the point where the majority of grad students even at fancy schools often leave the field.

    If you want a higher probability of actually getting a job applying neat statistical/quantum physics, pursue a graduate degree, most likely a PhD, in materials or electrical engineering, or applied physics.

    Also, there's a lot more progress in the fields I mentioned rather than in basic physical science, so I at least generally feel like what I'm doing is better than pontificating into the aether.
  5. Oct 25, 2017 #25
    I will be doing my studies in Germany, so I think I will work there only. Will I be able to get a job after masters (particle physics or maybe cosmology, I have interest in these 2 fields). If yes, then I can work and earn some cash and after a year or 2 I can take up PhD. is it possible? I am not really interested in Engineering (except mechatronics) and I know if I take engineering, I will never ever in my life feel satisfied. I will regret it my whole life. I don't want that to happen.
  6. Oct 25, 2017 #26

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    The job market in time travel is even more horrible.
  7. Oct 25, 2017 #27
    You're getting way too ahead of yourself in terms of deciding what you are going to research, if you want to take a risk and try to become a physic researcher then go study physics then see where your interests develop as you start to cover the real physics (you say you are studying GR atm, I can tell you that you arent studying anything close to real GR yet, that is a very advanced topic in physics)

    You also need to take into account that most blue sky physics research has high competition and low amounts of funding so make sure you have a back up career as you will probably not make a career out of physics research (in things like PP anyway) but there is no harm in trying.

    You can get jobs with a physics masters but not in physics research, you would most likely get jobs in software dev, engineering, depending on your skills then some lab jobs (none research based)
  8. Oct 25, 2017 #28
    Pretty dramatic, to say the least! Let me say a word or two about earning a living in the real world. Holding a job is about doing something that someone else is willing to pay you to do. If no one is willing to pay you, you do not have a job, but rather you have a hobby. Can you afford to spend your whole life on your hobby? Some folks can indeed do so, but not many.
  9. Oct 25, 2017 #29


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    One can invest all earnings into the lottery. If you keep playing your chance of winning eventually break 100% right?
  10. Oct 26, 2017 #30
    I will take do theoretical physics. After Masters, what kind of job will I be able to get? I heard that you can get a job as a professor in a university. is it a job good enough till I get enough cash to do phd? You guys are saying jobs are horrible in this field but people say that jobs are the worst in engineering field because there are just so many people in that field. Germany funds RnD highly so isn't it a good spot for research jobs?
  11. Oct 26, 2017 #31

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    This is very unlikely. You need a PhD, usually several years experience post-PhD, and even then there are for more applicants than positions.
  12. Oct 26, 2017 #32
    Then is there a way I can do my phd but also earn something? Because I do need to survive and pay the rent.
    EDIT: I was talking to my friend about this and he said you get paid while you do phd?! seriously? he said it is called a stipend and I don't know what it is. I google'd it and found that it is around 1650 euro per month in Germany which is actually great. But can anyone tell me more about it? Like is it for a limited period or there are restrictions on it or maybe not everyone get it? Because if I indeed get paid that much, then my future is already set! My parents have enough for me to study till masters. PhD was the main problem here. I have been very anxious about it since quite a few days so I do not want to get my hopes up just yet. Someone please confirm it. Thanks in advance
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  13. Oct 27, 2017 #33
    Jobs are horrible in fancy physics (e.g. pencil and paper professional pontification about black holes), but in Europe, jobs for computational physics might be better than in the US.

    In that case, you'll be spending your time coding and managing computers like I do. Which, I greatly enjoy, but which might not conform to your expectations.
  14. Oct 29, 2017 #34
    Physicist, Engineering is more commercial, Physicist is more theoretical, proof of concept stuff.

    Having said that I like Engineering more and I think they do a more valuable job. Physicists don't really have that much to do at this point, it's all either Astrophysics at ten million million million lightyears away, or its Quantum Mechanics theorization (and even then, it's still one experiment every 20 years out of CERN, you can't really do any Physics experiments anymore).

    Whatever you do, WHATEVER you do, always pay attention to how many jobs there are for your field and how much they pay. You can get information about this from your country's reports on jobs and the labour market, or just by looking up a job board and looking at the numbers. Because you're not really given a choice in this matter, either you're working in a field where there are jobs, or you're unemployed. And if you want to do things without being paid that's your business, but if you want to be paid, you're not just going to be paid for every degree out there. And by all means have a look how many sociology or economics jobs exist in the world, because there aren't very many.

    PS I just read you saying that "you watched scientists in movies". That sounds to me like you're being told by your parents or society that you need to go to college and you're trying to convince yourself that you really like it by tying it to a form of entertainment that you actually do like (in other words, what you really like is watching the Anime, not the scientist). I would not do that. All of your decisions should be your own.
  15. Oct 29, 2017 #35
    This is my very own decision, my family wants me to go the engineering route but it is me that wants to go the physics route. I will do pay attention to the jobs. can you tell me if a transition is possible from physics to another field (of science ofcourse) or if physics guys can get jobs in other fields that pay well? Because I just want to study this thing because I want to know more about the universe. I will try my best to remain in the field only but if certain things happen and I am forced to make a transition, I need advice for then.
  16. Oct 29, 2017 #36
    I would tell your family to mind their place, you need to make this decision, because you'll be sitting all the exams and living this career, or dropping out in 10 years because you don't like it. And the reason why I would also say it is because Engineering doesn't necessarily pay any better than any other job, but is much more involved than most jobs, and will require a big committment from you.

    (Also I've seen you say something about PhDs - a PhD is basically a person who is preparing to become a professor, and I would be very cautious about that, because they only offer you a stipend if you're the best of the best, and then you ONLY become a professor if you're the best of the best there. In other words, you might as well be playing the lottery, because at that point its 20 people for one professor seat, and the other 19 go unemployed or have to switch careers - that's not a kind of environment you want to be in, you want to go into a field where there are a comfortable amount of jobs for everybody, and nobody is freaking out because everybody has a 90% grade average, and they are selecting candidates by whom they like on a personal level or who looks prettier or who'll look better for diversity quotas or whatever)

    You can transition, but not to another science. You'd need to start over. You can't get a degree in Physics and apply for Chemistry jobs. You can probably transfer to Engineering. You can also transfer to a wide variety of other professions, but not in science, science has very specific fields. And transitioning is always possible (at least if you're not trying to move from an Undergraduate Physics to a Post Graduate Chemistry), but is always undesirable. If possible, I would be doing what you want to be doing in your career in college.

    Although, and you have to realize this, colleges actually want you to go there, and not the other way around. You make their courses and livelihoods possible, so you might actually be able to transfer from Physics undergrad to Chemistry postgrad. But that might not be the case in a company, they will want to see at least some qualifications.

    Also, you do realize that most of the jobs in any economy aren't science-related? IT itself is probably bigger than all of science and Engineering combined, and THEN some. Then there's accounting, sales (talking), purchasing, HR (the bane of society), so on and so forth.
  17. Oct 31, 2017 #37
    This thread can be locked, I have made my decision, I will be doing theoretical physics. If necessary, I am pretty sure I can transition to software development. Thanks for the replies everyone and just to clarify, it is my very own decision lol.
  18. Oct 31, 2017 #38
    I wrote quite a few lines about details of PhD funding. But then I realized that most of those details don't really matter for you at the moment. So I'll break it down to the essentials: Yes, in Germany you get paid to do your PhD in Physics. Usually, you are employed by the university as a researcher. Sometimes you have a stipend. In both cases, you get enough money to make a decent living, especially when you are used to students' standards. So financing your PhD is not an issue.
  19. Nov 1, 2017 #39
    Alright, thanks for the confirmation!
  20. Nov 11, 2017 #40
    I am a graduating student with a BTech in Mechatronics and will take BS Physics next. I think taking Physics will deepen my knowledge in my technical field while my technology degree will allow me to apply for engineering jobs in the future.
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