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Physics How easy is it to find a job/career in researching physics?

  1. Feb 7, 2010 #1
    I'm currently 17 years old, and I'm worried about choosing physics in university.
    Is it possible to get involved in physics research forever, for my entire life?

    Personally, I love physics, especially the mysterious feeling of it. Sadly, my environment keeps discouraging me, because my classmates are frightened by physics and my parents keeps telling me to be a doctor. My father doesn't know more than the classical physics and my mom thinks I'm wanting physics to show how smart I am. To be honest, I only want physics to understand how reality works and why it works that way.

    Are there plenty jobs for physicists out there?
    Personally I find it uninteresting to work an ordinary job with much routine, and therefore I love research.
    So is it possible to work in a university researching physics for my entire life?

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2010 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Possible? Yes.

    Guaranteed? No. There are many more people who want these jobs than there are jobs.
  4. Feb 7, 2010 #3


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    You have to remember that physics is an academic subject, not a professional degree (such as engineering or nursing for example) and thus undergraduate physics programs are not usually oriented towards preparing one for a job. The goal is to give you a foundation in physics which you can then use however you want - springboard into graduate school, preparation for studies in a professional program, or a knowledge base that you can transfer into the workforce.

    In my opinion, there are plenty of jobs for physicists out there, but they aren't always as visible as they would be for other professions. Companies that want to hire an engineer, will advertise an engineering position, but often companies that would benefit from hiring a physicist don't know this and will not post for someone with a physics background.

    Getting a job in academic research is very competative. Not everyone who earns a PhD will necessarily go on to become a professor. This avenue is still certainly possible to successfully pursue, but there are a lot of variables involved - and not all of them are things that can be directly controlled. Certainly, academic merrit is something that can help, but there are also factors like timing. If you happen to pick a PhD topic that explodes in popularity about five years after you start, you're in a good position when it comes time to look for post-doctoral work. But if you pick a topic that's obsolete before you complete your candidacy examination, you'll have a much more difficult time convincing academic employers to hire you.
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