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How do you become a theoretical physicist?

  1. Nov 11, 2013 #1
    Can you guys please guide me and tell me what procedures are necessary to become a theoretical physicist? Also, tell me if you think if its a good idea to be that type of physicist or you think another type of physicist is probably better. Can you also tell me what the average salary is for a theoretical physicist? Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2013 #2
    Read this: http://www.academicjoy.net/WantToBe Physicist.pdf
    It is a bit outdated, since now the competition is fiercer, but it is still a very good read.

    As for the salary, you are most likely to do research in theoretical physics during your PhD and postdoctoral years. Beyond that finding a job as a theoretical (or any other) physicist is very hard. 6 years of PhD + 6 years of postdoc averages to about $32000 per year. You'll also need to work for about 60 hours per week. If you manage to become a professor, then the salary can get into six-digit range [http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Professor,_Postsecondary_/_Higher_Education/Salary], but that is quite unlikely, since such jobs are extremely rare.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  4. Nov 12, 2013 #3
    To much Big Bang Theory and Sheldon fans here I think. If its about the money, do a computer degree and become a consultant. you will get over 120K after 3-4 years of experience. If I am wrong, and you enjoy the science, then Corpuscule is right, its hard work for little reward. But you will understand more of the universe than anyone else. Even if you publish papers to try and make people understand, most will not.
  5. Nov 12, 2013 #4


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    1. What do you mean by "theoretical physicist"? It is my experience that many students who tell me that they want to do theoretical physics don't actually realize what they mean by that term.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/blog.php?b=3727 [Broken]

    2. How far along in your studies are you? If you are still in high school or just starting college, there's a good chance that what you THINK you want to do now, will not be the reality by the time you get a job.


    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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