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Experimental physics or engineering (of some kind)

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  • Thread starter slam7211
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Im a junior getting a BS in physics, and im in the "what do I want to do with my life" phase of my college undergrad career. currently im stuck between deciding between continuing physics, getting a PhD and focusing on experimental physics, or getting my BS and post bacc plus masters in engineering (probably mech or EE at this point im not quite sure) on one hand I like physics, and I like real world problem solving, especially when it comes to designing experiments and figuring out how to figure out what we need to figure out (sorry for the wordiness there) but on the other hand I feel that all of the above desires can be met with engineering, with significantly more money, and less time in school (read debt) and better overall job prospects (not just money but chances of getting hired in my field period) the only other strike against experimental physics is that the work is long, hard, and from what I gather there are so many post doc's that supply way exceeds demand which doesnt bode well for me Also are there potential places in industry for experimental physicists? academia seems overcrowded

Basically how right are my assumptions, and if they are wrong or I missed some pro's/cons of either field please fill me in

also the last thread I saw debating experimental physics turned into a troll off between theorists and experimentalists please don't start that
 

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  • #2
ZapperZ
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And again, why can't you do BOTH? There are several areas in physics in which you end up straddling both physics and engineering. Detector physics is one example. The other, which I've highlighted several times, is accelerator physics:

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=410271

Zz.
 
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Thanks this is the kind of answer im looking for (though not the only one im assuming) are there any other fields like this (anything in industry maybe) also in this case are the jobs plentiful, or is it as bad as trying to get a professorship these days?
 
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ZapperZ
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Thanks this is the kind of answer im looking for (though not the only one im assuming) are there any other fields like this (anything in industry maybe) also in this case are the jobs plentiful, or is it as bad as trying to get a professorship these days?
It appears as if you didn't even read the title of the thread that I linked to! Or is it not obvious what "goes begging" means?

Zz.
 
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It appears as if you didn't even read the title of the thread that I linked to! Or is it not obvious what "goes begging" means?

Zz.
Zz, you misinterpreted my reply, I was simply attempting to show that, while your answer was great I was posing the questions to others who might have other fields in mind outside of accelerator physics. Basically I didnt want people to think I was done with the thread but thank you for the guidance, also I know you said you personally do not know anyone with an MS in physics who has these jobs but do you think they would hire them, and does this look like a temporary fad or a steady line of work. Also given the shut down of the Fermilab accelerator do the job prospects look the same?
 
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ZapperZ
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Zz, you misinterpreted my reply, I was simply attempting to show that, while your answer was great I was posing the questions to others who might have other fields in mind outside of accelerator physics. Basically I didnt want people to think I was done with the thread but thank you for the guidance, also I know you said you personally do not know anyone with an MS in physics who has these jobs but do you think they would hire them, and does this look like a temporary fad or a steady line of work. Also given the shut down of the Fermilab accelerator do the job prospects look the same?
If you've read not only the thread, but also the link that I gave, you would have noticed that I had repeatedly tried to emphasize that "accelerator physics" is not equal to "high energy physics". It means that the field isn't tied to the ups and downs of funding in high energy physics. Those synchrotron centers that need RF engineers and accelerator physicists are not particle colliders. Those x-ray sources at your doctors' offices are not high energy physics machines.

Zz.
 

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