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How can I find a physics related job?

  1. Mar 2, 2013 #1
    Ok, here it goes. I graduated with a degree in math in 2010, and so far to now, I have been teaching chess, and math at college prep tutoring centers. I am interested in getting a job in physics, because I think physics is cool. My first question is: Do I need to go back to school, if I choose physics as a career. My second question is: If I do choose Physics, what sort of stuff can a person like me do? My prefer answer is that I can get a physics job by learning something myself, and putting it in my resume. My third question is: Out of curiosity, it seems to me that there is a oversupply/glut of PhD, and a lack of university position jobs. I would guess this also applies to physics, right. I am curious what exactly these people do if they fail to secure a job in universities?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 2, 2013 #2
    Some options: get a masters degree in physics or a related discipline like Optics/imaging science or medical physics. That would open doors for you in the optics/imaging industry, medical physics, and a few other professional STEM fields (scientific programming corps like MathWorks, Wolfram, etc.).

    If by physics you mean "pure academic research with tenure at a university", then yes that is about as narrow and picky you can possibly get, and you will not make it anywhere near that without a phd and several years of relevant experience.
  4. Mar 2, 2013 #3


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    Why are you interested in physics? Did you take any physics classes in college? With virtually no physics background, you won't be hired to do a physics job. What kind of job did you have in mind? Not everyone earning a PhD in physics wants to work for a university. Many if not most get jobs in industry, labs, or for the government and contractors. But you're not eligible to apply to a masters or PhD program in physics with no background in the field. They don't start over from the beginning.
  5. Mar 2, 2013 #4
    My opinion is that there is no such thing as a "physics related job". You are either a physicist doing research or you are not. Many people who try and fail to become physicists rebrand and remarket themselves as engineers, computer programmers or teachers.
  6. Mar 2, 2013 #5
    I did study some physics on my own.
  7. Mar 4, 2013 #6
    There are certainly "physics related jobs" that are not directly involved in doing research. High school physics teachers and engineers supporting physicists doing research are two that come to mind. However, these may or may not be "close enough" for your taste.

    If you want to be directly involved in research, you need a Ph.D. in physics, period, end of sentence. Less would be required if you wanted to teach high school or work as an engineer, but they would both require more education than "I've studied some physics on my own".
  8. Mar 4, 2013 #7
    Not really. At least in California you could take and pass the CSET for physics after "studying some physics on your own" or even just remembering AP Physics B . Biology and Chem grads do it all the time to teach physics in addition to chem or bio to be more marketable in getting a teaching job because they can be assigned courses in different subjects. Physics grads do the same for chem or bio.
  9. Mar 4, 2013 #8
    Yes, you are right. I somehow didn't think the OP had a bachelor's degree, which is a requirement for a teaching credential in CA, so I thought he'd need to finish a degree. But since he said he has already graduated with a degree in math, passing CSET is all that's required.
  10. Mar 4, 2013 #9
    I want to understand this more. You mean to say If I pass this CSET for physics, I can find a job teaching physics in High School, or some other places?
  11. Mar 4, 2013 #10
    This is in California.

    What you need is a "Single Subject Teaching Credential" for physics, or at least an "Emergency" version of this. When my wife did this for math five years ago the credential required:
    * A bachelor's degree
    * Giving your fingerprints to get a criminal background check clearance
    * Passing a general reading/writing/arithmetic test (CBEST)
    * Passing the CSET in the subject you are interested in.
    * Completing a one year approved teacher credentialing program..

    The "Emergency" credential means you can do away with the credentialing program if a district is willing to hire you and apply for it on your behalf.

    So, in theory, since you already have a bachelor's degree, you could be qualified to be a high school physics teacher in the state of California by passing two more tests and submitting to a background check.

    Now, the real problem would be finding a job. This is not a great time to become a teacher. And districts are not really thrilled about hiring someone with only an "Emergency" credential, because they have to report statistics on how many teachers are "well-qualified", and only having an emergency credential is not considered good enough.

    Even factoring in the one-year credential program though, this is probably your quickest way to a "physics-related" job.
  12. Mar 4, 2013 #11


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    ha! EVERY job is physics related. Though you may not need a Physics degree for every job, it always helps.
  13. Mar 4, 2013 #12
    I got a misdemeanor in traspassing for punching my roommate at UCLA. Would this be a problem?
  14. Mar 4, 2013 #13
    As a physics phd working as a statistician, I strongly disagree. Most jobs physics degrees get just don't the degree.
  15. Mar 4, 2013 #14
    Yup, before the budget crisis the state used to be desperate for physics teachers. I imagine nowadays they might just not offer physics in some schools or pack them like sardines.
  16. Mar 4, 2013 #15
    Couldnt you substitute english/math in for physics and it would still be true?
  17. Mar 4, 2013 #16
    Felonies I think are the deal breakers or a trend of recurring misdemeanors.
  18. Mar 5, 2013 #17
    I'm not sure how "window cleaner" is physics related... Or how it would possibly help.
  19. Mar 5, 2013 #18
    I think hes joking... A window cleaner needs to know a bit of the physics of gravity to know which way the cleaning solution is going to run. No degree needed, but physics is needed (in some silly sense).
  20. Mar 5, 2013 #19


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    Newtonian mechanics and Coulomb's law of friction explains why ladders only slip AFTER you climbed to the top of them :smile:
  21. Mar 5, 2013 #20
    After a quick google search, it looks like they are mainly concerned with sex and drug offenses and violent felonies. They apparently have more latitude than that, so they can throw the book at you if they want for less... but they seem to accept arguments that the behavior is unlikely to happen again. So you could always argue you were young and stupid and it won't happen again, and you'll probably be OK.
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