For anyone who is a current or former, how do PhDs fare?

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In summary, this is a follow-up question specifically for those who are currently PhD students or have recently completed a PhD in physics. The question asks for approximate percentages of these individuals who have gone on to post-docs in physics, post-docs in other fields, industry jobs in physics, industry jobs in other fields, finance/banking/analyst jobs, unskilled labor jobs, and those who are unemployed or underemployed. The estimated percentages are as follows: 30% have gone on to post-docs in physics, 10% have gone on to post-docs in other fields, 30% have obtained industry jobs in other fields, and 30% have pursued finance/banking/analyst jobs. It is noted
  • #1
This is for anyone who is currently a PhD student in physics or has completed a PhD sometime in the recent past, i.e. within 4-5 years ago or so. This is meant to be a follow up to another question i asked earlier.

Of everyone who know who has gotten a Physics PhD, what percentage of them, roughly, have gone on to post-docs in physics, what percentage of them have gotten post docs in other fields, what percentage have gotten industry jobs in physics, what percentage have gotten industry jobs in other fields, what percentage have gotten finance/banking/analyst jobs, what percentage went into unskilled labor jobs and what percentage found themselves unemployed or underemployed, i.e. working only part time?

Obviously knowing exact percentages is tough so here I am looking only for approximate percentages in each category.
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  • #2
Speaking only for my former colleagues (implying the numbers below to be systematically skewed wrt. the group of all physics PhDs) and as guesswork:

post-docs in physics: 30%
post docs in other fields: 10% (hard to gauge because in many fields distinctions are blurry)
industry jobs in physics: What is that supposed to be?
industry jobs in other fields: 30% (non-university, non-fundamental research in the public sector being included here)
finance/banking/analyst jobs: I'll re-interpret this as "consulting": 30%
unskilled labor jobs,unemployed, involuntarily part-time work: 0%

The last number should be taken with a bit of care: Some people indeed did not find a job and simply went for a post-doc, instead.

EDIT: Since this forums focusses heavily on the US: Above numbers are from a German theory department (math. physics, biophysics, solid state, complex systems).
  • #3
For American statistics visit the American Physical Society (APS) website; they conduct surveys periodically.
  • #4
I would expect the outcome to depend on the field and on experimental vs. theoretical orientation. Therefore any answers should include that information in order to be useful.
  • #5

As a scientist with a PhD in physics, I can provide some insight into the career paths of PhD holders in this field. It is important to note that the career outcomes for PhDs can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances and choices.

In my experience, a majority of PhD holders in physics do go on to post-doctoral positions in academia or research institutions. This allows them to further develop their research skills and publications, which are important for securing a tenure-track position at a university or a research position in a national laboratory.

However, there is also a significant number of PhD holders who choose to pursue post-docs in other fields, such as engineering, data science, or even business. This can be a great opportunity for them to apply their skills and knowledge in different industries and broaden their career options.

In terms of industry jobs in physics, it is not as common as post-doc positions, but there are still opportunities available. Many PhD holders go on to work in research and development roles in industries such as aerospace, defense, and technology. Others may choose to work in technical or consulting positions in various industries.

I would say the percentage of PhD holders who go into finance, banking, or analyst jobs is relatively small, but it is not uncommon for some to pursue these careers, especially if they have a strong background in mathematics or data analysis.

Regarding unskilled labor jobs, I have not personally encountered any PhD holders in physics who have gone into this type of work. However, it is possible that some may choose to do so for personal or financial reasons.

It is important to note that the job market for PhD holders in any field can be competitive, and there is no guarantee of finding employment immediately after graduation. Some may take on part-time or temporary positions while continuing their job search, but this does not necessarily mean they are underemployed.

In summary, the career outcomes for PhD holders in physics can vary, but a significant number do go on to post-doctoral positions in physics or other fields, while others pursue careers in industry or other sectors. It is also important to keep in mind that the job market can be unpredictable and individual circumstances play a significant role in career outcomes.

What is the average salary for PhD holders?

The average salary for PhD holders varies greatly depending on the field of study, industry, and location. On average, PhD holders make around $80,000 per year in the United States.

What are the job prospects for PhD holders?

The job prospects for PhD holders also vary depending on the field of study. Generally, PhD holders have a higher chance of finding employment in academia, research, and consulting positions.

How long does it typically take to complete a PhD program?

The length of a PhD program can vary from 4-6 years for full-time students. However, this can also depend on the individual's research progress and the requirements of their specific program.

What are the main challenges of pursuing a PhD?

Some common challenges of pursuing a PhD include long hours of research and writing, the pressure to publish and secure funding, and the mental strain of working on a thesis for several years.

What are the benefits of earning a PhD?

Earning a PhD can lead to a higher level of expertise and credibility in a field, as well as open up opportunities for higher-paying jobs, leadership roles, and academic positions. It also allows for the opportunity to contribute original research to a specific field.

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