Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Focused on PhD and R&D

  1. Apr 9, 2010 #1
    I read a lot of stuff in the threads of this forum,especially related to PhD,prospects after grad school,R&D work and so on,focused on PhD and R&D.Many people here give just general replies-vapidity without any concrete useful information...like bla-bla-bla 'don't get PhD just for career purposes'...ok,then what for?!...many use general phrases like 'many doors are open for Physics PhD holder',when they are asked about what their research is they don't explain anything more or less concrete...and so on and so forth...but there's a few really useful information among this stuff that a beginner could use in his life.So,I decided to ask the following that might be useful not only for me but also for others thinking about path choice:

    What is PhD needed for???Why should one pursue it if not for future career?

    1)For academia career?
    Does it mean that it's impossible to publish any scientific article in some journal without PhD?Or is it impossible to do lecturing in universities without PhD,even if you're an engineer(BE or ME) who achieved something really cool in your field and could share your knowledge with an audience?So,an absence of PhD will intervene the world to know about your cool tech achievements?Or without PhD you will be isolated from the ambience where smart ideas might appear,where you could talk to Nobel Prize holders,work on the modernest equipment in high-tech laboratory,getting access to rare substances,weird microchips,and other terrific stuff.IMHO,the last point sounds to be the most reasonable for PhD.Tell me what is correct,please,I need to know.

    2)For career in industry?
    But many people here constantly argue that you can get absolutely any job in industry without PhD...then why the hell do we need it?

    3)For career in finances,investing,work in banks and similar?
    But wouldn't it be more reasonable to get a degree specialized in finance or at least,an MBA in this case?!Because it doesn't look logical even if you say 'grad school along with PhD give you smart analytical skills which you'll be using on Wall Street.'Pardon me,I suppose if one wanna develop his career in finance he will just get a degree in finance,not in physics,otherwise why the hell does he need it?It's ********!

    4)For bisiness?
    But as many say here that for business start up and development you need totally different skills like management,ability to convince potential investors to give you money,staying on call for a long and other management stuff,then getting PhD doesn't seem to be attractive again.Then why???

    Please,explain me,oh smart gurus,why did you spend years of your life on getting PhD(if it's not a secret you keep silence about)?Are you satisfied of that and don't regret?In which case would you advice people who didn't take this route yet to do the same?And if 'yes',then why?Thanks and bye.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2010 #2
    Re: PhD-why???

    As a rule, work academia requires a PhD. If you'd read the other threads you're ranting about properly, then you'd know the reason it is said that one should not go for a PhD for career purposes, is that it can be extremely difficult to make a career in academia. So, you shouldn't count on being able to do it since chances are you'll end up disappointed.

    Once again, go back and read all of the previous threads. You're asking the same question repeatedly, and there is still the same, simple answer: do a PhD only if you're passionate enough about a particular subject area to see yourself working on it for 6 years at a relatively low level of pay.

    I have no idea why you've just chosen to list examples of jobs and ask if a PhD is appropriate for it.

    As a rule, work academia requires a PhD. If you'd read the other threads you're ranting about properly, then you'd know the reason it is said that one should not go for a PhD for career purposes, is that it can be extremely difficult to make a career in academia. So, you shouldn't count on being able to do it since chances are you'll end up disappointed.

    Once again, go back and read all of the previous threads. You're asking the same question repeatedly, and there is still the same, simple answer: do a PhD only if you're passionate enough about a particular subject area to see yourself working on it for 6 years at a relatively low level of pay.


    Yes, yes it would. You're ignoring the point that you, yourself, stated earlier: don't get a PhD for career purposes. If a PhD was necessary to go into finance then clearly this would be bad advice. In industry jobs a PhD might mean you end up with a slight pay-bump to start with or a quicker career progression if you're working for a company that specialises in your research area, but it's nothing that anyone would really consider worth the effort it takes to obtain the PhD.

    Also, I don't think anyone here really appreciates the needless ranting tone you've put forward with this thread. You're obviously angry about something, but being cheeky to people that try to give advice and assistance for free isn't the way forward. You had a very simple question that did not require all of the extra padding you've given it.

    Fact is: most people that do a PhD do it because they're interested in whatever the topic may be. Over the course of the PhD, one will certainly gather skills that can be applied to a future career - but these are generally skills that can also be gained from simply starting on the career path straight away. A PhD is necessary for academia. If you finish your PhD and have the opportunity to work in academia, then obviously you have that as an option. There are so few places in academia that it would probably be silly to study a PhD with the sole goal of working in a university.
     
  4. Apr 9, 2010 #3

    Mapes

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Re: PhD-why???

    Vlad83, yours seems like an "agenda post," rather than an innocent question, but I'll take a crack at it.

    A PhD is good for people who want to study a problem in depth, for many years, with no guarantee that an answer is available. These people generally emerge with knowledge of many analytical techniques, a proven history of tenacity, deep knowledge of one or more fields, and a better capability to study and answer questions in any field.

    1) In academia: it is obviously possible to publish without a PhD; almost all graduate students and some undergraduates do, and engineers in industry do. But academia and academic journals are especially well matched with people whose characteristics are listed above.

    2) In industry: the characteristics listed above are especially useful in scientists, directors of research, and chief scientific officers, among others. One could demonstrate these capabilities without a PhD, no doubt, but doctoral work provides a more-or-less standardized way to be trained and certified in these areas.

    3) In finance: see "analytical techniques" and "better capability to study and answer questions in any field" above. I'm sorry if it doesn't make sense to you, but there is great overlap between physics and finance: both involve developing, testing, and learning from abstract models of observed real-life mechanisms.

    4) In business: you think a PhD doesn't convince potential investors to give you money? Besides a good-looking business plan, investors want to know that the tools will work and that another company isn't likely to find a better approach. In other words, they want someone with a deep knowledge of one's field. They're going to want people with research experience to evaluate the business plan and to sit on the scientific advisory board (and people who can use grammar and spell correctly). Again, doctoral training is one good way to certify this experience.
     
  5. Apr 9, 2010 #4
    Re: PhD-why???

    What's life for? (Seriously.)

    Because I think it's a bad thing for one's "career" to be the most important thing in your life. For me, I'm going to be dead in a few decades, and personally, I think that after I'm dead, I'm going to have to somehow explain what I did while I was alive.

    Personally, I got the Ph.D. because I like asking questions and I'm pretty curious about things. For example "where did you get this idea that you should do things for the sake of career?" (seriously, where did you get this idea from and why do you believe it?)

    You don't. Now if you think that the only purpose in life is to get a career, that's up do you. But personally after asking myself "so why do I think that career is so important" the answer happens to be that "I've been brainwashed by the power elite to think that a career is the most important thing so that they can control me and use me to make them rich." (Karl Marx points this out nicely.)

    There are a hundred different jobs in the financial industry. However, the jobs that physics Ph.D.'s tend to do tend to be jobs that MBA's or people with finance masters aren't qualified to do (although people with engineering and CS degrees are). Finance is *super high-tech*, and requires a ton of computer babysitters.

    There are hundreds of different jobs in finance, each needing different skills. It so happens that some of these jobs require heavy duty math and computer skills.

    One of these papers has a time bomb in it that will bankrupt your company and destroy the world economy. Can you tell me which one?

    http://www.math.lsu.edu/~sengupta/papers/MengSenguptaTranche08.pdf
    http://www.risknet.de/uploads/tx_bxelibrary/Gaussian-Copula-Burtschell.pdf

    I'll tell you which paper has the time bomb, and where it is, but it will cost you $. (It's in the second paper after equation 2.8). If you want me to translate those papers from math to plain English or put those equations on a computer, sure, I'll do it, but it will cost you $$$$$.

    Because it was fun. It also turns out to be quite profitable, and it's profitable because it's fun.

    Everyone is different. I don't give advice because what works for me may not work for you.
     
  6. Apr 9, 2010 #5
    Re: PhD-why???

    And then working for the next fifty years doing the same thing at a moderately high or high level of pay.
     
  7. Apr 9, 2010 #6
    Re: PhD-why???

    Depends what the PhD is in and what area of work you get into....

    If you want to do defense work on the sciences or engineering side of the fence....then a PhD could end up making you a lot of money...

    Although....there are many in that industry that make as much as the guys with PhDs and only have a Masters...

    And in some cases....only a Bachelors

    ;)
     
  8. Apr 10, 2010 #7
    Re: PhD-why???

    A Ph.D. can be used for many things, but it's required for very few.

    The reason people say "Don't get a Ph.D. for career reasons" is that it often doesn't make any economic sense to do so... but as other posters have pointed out, economic factors should not be the only ones in your decision-making process.
     
  9. Apr 10, 2010 #8
    Re: PhD-why???

    One thing that you have to figure out in your life is basically "how much money is enough money?"
     
  10. Apr 10, 2010 #9
    Re: PhD-why???

    It is so much right! I have been selecting people for companies and organizations for 5 years and only a few times PHD was at least mentioned in the requirements.
    Mark
    my https://www.physicsforums.com/member.php?u=243134"
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  11. Apr 10, 2010 #10
    Re: PhD-why???

    One really has to distinguish here between the Ph.D. and the things you learn while get the Ph.D. It's not as if the Ph.D. is some sort of driver's license that someone looks at. However, in every job I've ever applied for the skills that I got while doing the Ph.D. were things that helped me get the job. So in the resume, I didn't focus so much on the Ph.D. but rather went into detail about the experience I got while doing the Ph.D.

    The other thing about getting a Ph.D. in physics is that people assume that if you have one, you like math.

    Also the Ph.D. helps a lot in some jobs, because just the fact that you were able to handle a multi-year project and get a deliverable is a good sign. I know a number of physics Ph.D.'s that ended up being project managers at software companies, which really has not much to do with the Ph.D., but has a lot to do with the ability to organize a multi-year research effort.
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook