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Programs Guidance on Future of Physics Degree

  1. Jul 9, 2017 #1
    Hey guys, new to the forums and wanted some advice from users in the field.

    Currently just got accepted to Leipzig for the physics program and am having second thoughts due to reading multiple articles online about the job market post degree for physics graduates.

    To give back ground information, math has been my strongest field growing up, everything always clicked with Mr and the subject just interested me by always working. Until I was put into contact with physics.
    Ever since I started learning about it I couldn't get enough, and after watching lectures by Feynman, Sagen, Lewin.

    And basically after that I knew I wanted to be a physics teacher. After a year of trying to get in the proper position to be able to go study in Leipzig, I keep reading about how jobs still aren't as good to find, therefore making my dream less likely to happen. I'm not doing this for money or prestige, I just want to teach high level physics, while hopefully doing research with it.

    I'm just unsure of the market, and I don't want to finish 6 years of schooling to not only not be able to teach, but also be unable to work in a field I love so much.

    So, if anyone has had prior ambitions and can give advice of a future path I would appreciate. Now is kinda the time for me choose another path to go in, even though I would dread it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Always have a backup plan. I really liked physics too and my backup was to be a programmer. Data Science is getting really big so perhaps more stat math will allow you to pivot into Data Science as a backup. (i'd read up on Data Science to learn about the math you'll really need so you can cover it.) You might even take some courses on it as an aside.

    Anyway, forget the job market, you only live once so enjoy your study of physics, learn as much as you can and then go and teach.
  4. Jul 12, 2017 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Secondary school level ("high school" in the US) or university level (including "college" in the US)? It means a big difference in expected credentials (degrees etc.) and in job opportunities, at least in the US. In other countries, conditions may vary.
  5. Jul 12, 2017 #4


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    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Finding community college and university teaching jobs not so easy. Better luck is for those WILLING to teach in secondary schools and also WILLING to teach other science areas than just "Physics". Teaching should not be the only back-up plan.
  6. Jul 12, 2017 #5
    I was planning on going fully for the PhD depending on which suited me better (experimental/theoretical),
    The other thing is that I'm piss poor and I'm looking for a way to "fund" my stay/site the government I'm not going to be on their welfare. (I am finding part time work whole I'm there but that isn't documentable evidence)
    Thanks for the reply!
  7. Jul 12, 2017 #6
    Thank you for the advice, I read the math field was doing alright for jobs outside academia, currently have worked through differential equations so hopefully there can be a semi simple minor to achieve
  8. Jul 12, 2017 #7
    In the US, positions for high-school teachers should not be taken for granted (even for those who are willing). They are heavily dependent on municipal and state (and some federal) funding. And this funding is very fickle. In my state, there was (and still is) a shortage of elementary-school and high-school science and math teachers. At some point, the state came up with programs to allow experienced STEM professionals a special path to teaching. Locally, we've had a lot of layoffs in hi-tech industries from 2001 on (still on-going in some sectors), and I know a bunch of experienced STEM professionals who signed up for these special programs. But, just as they finished, we were in the midst of a fiscal crisis, and many school districts layed off teachers (including science and math). The need for science and math teachers is still there, but the funding isn't.
  9. Jul 12, 2017 #8
    So would going for an engineering field be a lot more safe for jobs?
  10. Jul 12, 2017 #9


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    Education Advisor

    To the OP:

    I think it would help to find out where you are from. You did state that you were accepted at Leipzig -- are you from Germany, or are you from another country who was accepted to a German university? I ask because your employability will depend on where you live currently, where you intend to live for work, and how flexible you are in relocating.
  11. Jul 12, 2017 #10
    In case you missed them, there are two related threads concerning employment prospects:



    As I posted in the first thread above, the job market can invert from a shortage of workers to massive layoffs within a period of 2 yrs. So, there's no point in making a prediction of the job market 6 yrs from now.
  12. Jul 12, 2017 #11
    Northern United States, and I'm very open to relocation, it all depends on gf/ possible wife
    Thanks for the links I will check them out now, also that makes complete sense, I guess I'll gamble with a backup and hope it works ;)
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