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Finance/Economics Career with Physics BS or Physics Grad School?

  1. Jul 30, 2013 #1
    Hey everyone, I was hoping to get some general career advice. I am currently working on my Physics BS and am almost done with all of the physics requirements. However, since I was a transfer student I have been able to take a lot of courses in fields I also enjoy. I'll end up graduating with the BS in Physics and minors in Math, Economics, and Business and would like to work in the private industry working in finance or economics. I'm an Operations Manager for a small business right now, so I'm building the work experience while in school. Do you think I'll stand out because of my experience and varied background for a career in either of those fields? I could also do grad school at my current university in physics, but I don't know that I would be able to continue my current job because of the additional hours I would have to put in at school for research and my thesis. I'd like to say that money doesn't matter, but I am married and have two young kids. What do you guys think? Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2013 #2
    Wouldn't you want to do grad school in finance or economics if that is what you want to do now, rather than physics?
  4. Jul 30, 2013 #3
    Actually, apparently I left out a sentence. I enjoy physics most of all, but I am just getting a little concerned about the job market with just a BS. If I was going to stay in school any longer I would prefer to get a higher degree in physics so that the chance would be greater that I could actually have a physics-oriented career. It's just that I have been in college since '09 and with my job and family I may not finish my BS until Spring '15 or '16. I just feel like as a dad and husband I want to be in a career at some point soon. I tried doing school full-time and working too, but my family suffered. I tried to focus on my family more, but my work and school suffered. So I've landed myself an "ok" job right now, but can only go to school part-time. Supporting a family with a part-time job and a bunch of student loans is near impossible and seems like a bad way to go. Way too stressful. Even graduate school could be tight with the stipend + loans. Working at all then doesn't seem possible, or plausible at least.

    All that being said, if I didn't wuss out and actually did grad school there's still the issue of the field of study. My school doesn't have a Physics PhD, only a MS. They do have PhD programs in Medical Physics, Chemical Physics, and Nanoscience/Nanotech. Would that route be best? Or would just getting the MS work out better than I think? Thanks for the response!
  5. Jul 30, 2013 #4
    Are you familiar with medical physics?
  6. Jul 30, 2013 #5
    You're not going into finance like you think of finance - you're not going to be a quant or such with a BS, and you probably won't be a quant with any degree you can get from a school that doesn't even offer a PhD in physics. There's lots of sales jobs in finance you might try, and if you're good at that sort of thing.

    There are other business jobs you can get, and your operations management experience may have value. Your physics degree likely won't, but you'll be able to say you're a college grad. You might look at management jobs at retail type stores, or business intelligence jobs at company headquarters. If you took plenty of stats classes you could look at actuarial work or statistics jobs.

    Teaching high school may be the way to go, honestly. I'm not saying it's good, it just may be the best of your options. Have you looked at that?
  7. Jul 31, 2013 #6
    Yes, I looked into it pretty well. I didn't like some of what I saw, and I wouldn't want to work in a medical environment. It's not for everyone.

    Awfully speculative of you, haha. I'm not some impatient youth that thinks like that. I've considered sales, but wouldn't take anything that only paid commission. It's too stressful with a family. I was thinking about working my way up to CFO or something similar. I like helping businesses work better, looking for inefficiencies and ways to increase profit margins. I just don't know where that path begins.

    This is based on stopping at the BS, right? I don't disagree, but if those are the only options I end up seeing then I'll continue into a grad program and worst case be self-employed. I'm too much of a go-getter to settle for a career. Even my current gig is challenging and enjoyable.

    Pass. One of those "not for everyone" things, again.

    If I continue into grad school what is the better way to go? I always said I wouldn't settle for a MS, and how marketable is a Physics MS currently anyway? Last I heard it wasn't very good, but it takes much less time than the PhD program. Worthwhile? If not then it would be between the Medical Physics, Chemical Physics, and Nanotech PhD programs. I would definitely prefer Nanotech; any one know how those degree holders are doing?
  8. Jul 31, 2013 #7
    Depends on what kind. If its just a failed PhD master's then its not very marketable. If its a terminal master's, something like a professional scientist degree then it can be very, very marketable if you studied an in demand area.

    The take home message here is that what marketable skills you have matter more than what degree you have.
  9. Jul 31, 2013 #8
    Ah, I see. Unfortunately, the only available program is your ol' Applied Physics MS, but I think that would be ok going into industry/private sector. I definitely have marketable skills, I just want to improve my chances at getting a job that I enjoy. I think that I'm settling on the MS. I don't think that there's even a thesis required, so it may be the strongest degree for the buck/time. In the mean time I'll just continue building my work experience and accumulating skills in my tool box. I feel like that's something more important nowadays anyway. I just didn't want to stop at the BS because like another posted commented, it's really not much more than a proof that I finished college. I even had a successful business owner tell me a few years ago that the bachelor's degree was the new high school diploma. Practically everyone has one and no one has the skills/critical thinking that it should stand for. Hey, thanks to everyone for the help.
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