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Physics How Is High Energy Physics as Career?

  1. Feb 15, 2008 #1
    Lot of people asking about the jobs and salary of Astrophysics and i have also asked before. Now i ask about high energy physics..What about salary at CERN and Fermilab ? and is it has more job opportunities than Astrophysics and theoritical physics at usa or europe?

    What do you say?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2008 #2
    It's funny, because HEP was in a terrible state career wise not long ago. With the LHC coming online everyone talked about how things would be better, and I thought it was reasonable.

    We were naive. The LHC has created huge demand for graduate students, but has increased the number of actual permanent positions by a very small number. So more people than ever are on the train to nowhere.

    A similar thing happened six or eight years ago, where the NIH had its budget doubled and yet permanent positions increased by around. . . zero. Why hire permanent positions that are really expensive when you can haul in graduate students who are cheap?

    I say that the top 3% of all students who study HEP - the ones who excel at ever level, the ones who attend the top schools, the ones who get the big-name advisors - will have excellent career prospects and lead fulfilling lives. If you aren't sure you're in that subset, look elsewhere, or at least have a great backup plan.
  4. Feb 15, 2008 #3


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    Right now, with the current budget debacle in the US and UK, high energy physics does not look very attractive as a career. It wasn't that attractive before when compared to condensed matter/atomic/medical physics, but it is worse now.

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2008
  5. Mar 24, 2009 #4
    ZapperZ, what would your thoughts on the current career for HEP be? More attractive than 08? Less attractive than 08?
  6. Mar 25, 2009 #5
    I think it has a lot of POTENTIAL.............get it? :)
  7. Mar 25, 2009 #6
    was that stemming from sarcasm or were you serious?
  8. Mar 28, 2009 #7
    Grad student in high energy astro here. Question: if you're not doing condensed matter, then precisely what can you do with a PhD in physics outside of academia that still involves doing physics? Because I really don't want to become a quant on Wall Street who writes ROOT scripts to predict market forces.
  9. Mar 28, 2009 #8
    I think there is also demand in industry for people with a Ph.D. in optics.

    But for astrophysics, I think your alternatives are either academia or NASA.
  10. Mar 28, 2009 #9


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    Are you talking about experimental or theoretical HEP ?

    As an experimentalist, there are a lot of opportunities in instrumentation, like in medical imaging, on synchrotrons or in the nuclear sector, or in the data acquisition business which is even larger.
  11. Mar 28, 2009 #10
    What about theoretical HEP? or theoretical nuclear physics?
  12. Mar 28, 2009 #11
    Don't lay awake at night worrying about ending up with a job on Wall Street. It probably wouldn't happen if you wanted.
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