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How can a Physics major relate to clean energy?

  1. Jun 9, 2015 #1
    Hello,
    I am incredibly interested in Physics, so that is what I am majoring in Physics. However, I also want to do work in clean energy resources.
    Can I get a job in clean energy with a Physics degree? If so, how?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2015 #2
    Of course you can get a job in clean energy related businness. Specially on research. I would start by doing research on companies or universities to see what can you do there.
     
  4. Jun 9, 2015 #3

    e.bar.goum

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    There are a huge amount of clean energy jobs in physics. It's a matter of what kind of clean energy you're interested in, but a specialization in materials science will give you the best background.
     
  5. Jun 9, 2015 #4
    You can, but its not the easiest path. If you want to do research you need to do a PhD, post docs and have some luck. Otherwise, I would suggest double majoring w/engineering or plan on an engineering masters.

    In either case I suggest finding an internship related to energy (clean or otherwise) if you want a job besides being a physicist. If you want to go for the gold and get a job in physics then you should find a lab that is doing some kind of related research to work in during your undergraduate.

    I do not agree that there are a huge amount of clean energy jobs in physics. There are not a lot of jobs in physics period, let alone in clean energy.
     
  6. Jun 9, 2015 #5

    e.bar.goum

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    Of the jobs that there are in physics (this doesn't just include academia, btw), most of them are in materials science (it's something like 70%, IIRC). There are many applications of materials science to clean energy (from gold encrusted carbon nanotubes for better photo-voltaics through to understanding the behaviour of metals in hot plasma environments for fusion power). If you want to be a physicist, and work in clean energy, materials science is the way to go. It's not like the OP said they wanted to be a string theorist.
     
  7. Jun 9, 2015 #6
    What are jobs "in physics"? To me, that means a researcher at a university or a national lab. Otherwise, there is no such thing as physics as a field in industry. Its an academic subject who's field lies in academia.

    Do you mean jobs in engineering and technology that might use the knowledge and ability of a physics graduate?
     
  8. Jun 9, 2015 #7

    radium

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    I disagree. Physics is a very flexible field. I came from a theoretical chemistry group that actually did a lot of research relating to alternative energy regarding materials like photovoltaics. Many of the people came from physics backgrounds and a lot of the postdocs had done their PhDs in physics. Former members have gone into academia, national labs, and industry.
    Doing a PhD in physics at a well known university gives you a lot of flexibility, especially applied physics. I know at my physics program we are allowed to do our PhD with advisors outside of the department. If you wanted to work in alternative energy you could study things related to materials science, electrical engineering, geophysics as a physicist
     
  9. Jun 9, 2015 #8

    e.bar.goum

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    A "job in physics" is a researcher who works in physics at a university, a national lab, or a private company. According to the AIP, something like 23% of the first jobs that PhD's get is in the private sector (compared to 57% in universities, 16% government) Most of whom are doing something physics or engineering related. http://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/employment/phdinitemp-p-12.pdf I don't have the long-term career data to hand, but I suspect this is representative.

    Who do you think invents the better transistor?

    ETA: The above information is US centric. Countries that have less in the way of R&D private industry (e.g. Australia) will have different results.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
  10. Jun 9, 2015 #9
    Sure, but the majority of physics majors never get a PhD. Heck, most of them probably don't even graduate with their BS in physics... Of those that do graduate most go on to other fields because there is no physics industry.

    I wouldn't consider doing something "physics or engineering related" as being "in physics". That might be seen as splitting hairs by some... but I'm an engineer by job title and I use zero physics at my job.

    To the original question, if the poster wants to get a job with a physics degree he/she should shoot for the PhD. It looks like you and the poster above you are assuming that, I did not. I assumed he/she was thinking about a job with less than a PhD.
     
  11. Jun 9, 2015 #10

    e.bar.goum

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    The stats still show that most jobs in industry for physicists were in physics.

    Sure, then our advice aligns - therubbydubby - if you want to do a PhD, consider materials science. If you don't, consider engineering.
     
  12. Jun 9, 2015 #11
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