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How much money do physists make?

  1. Mar 26, 2005 #1
    I'm deciding what to do with my life. I'm 17, a senior in high school. I graduate in 2006. I was wondering how much money physist makes. Is there an actual job where you are a "physist"? Or are there other jobs where you use physics, and apply physics to figure out problems?

    There are a few jobs I'd like. Some make low wages, others high wages.
    According to MSN, the highest paid jobs are surgeons and engineers.
    Here are the jobs I might persue, all different:
    1) Marketing eletronic goods such as the PSP for Sony/Advertising
    2) Working at Gamespot, and playing and reviewing games for a living.
    3) Being a surgeon. Not sure what type. Possibly a general surgeon.
    4) Working as a physist for NASA or as an engineer
    5) Working at a coin store.


    I'm interested in alot of jobs. My first job was working at Mc.Donalds, where I got the money in 2 weeks to purchase a PSP (A PSP is a gaming device). I recently moved and now I don't have a job. I want to work at a job like Best Buy, or Target.
    A surgeon would be hard work, and would require a degree. I cannot begin to imagine how much I'd have to study anatomy. The body is so complex.
    I've also been interested in advertising. Advertising is important in economics, it helps the economy strive. I find the different types of advertising interesting.

    Like many other teenagers, I also like video games. I think alot of people would like to write reviews for playing video games. But I really want to be known as someone. I don't want to die and not be popular are famous.

    Since 9th grade I've tried alot harder to understand math and have been doing well in math. Atoms and the formulas for them in science was very difficult to me. However, every other section of the science book (Light, doppler effect, sound, radioativity) was a breeze for me.

    There's a certain amount of math I can take before I go insane. Too much math..ugh, it drives me insane. I don't know if anyone else this happens to them. I enjoy math but doing it for too long sometimes really works my mind over.

    Numismatics is the study of coins. My dad is/was a physist and is now retired and is a investor. He worked for NASA and designed eletrical circuits. Electricity is such a fundamental concept but it's hard for me to understand it. I've always liked coins. I collect them still. I'd like to work at a coin shop, but once again that is a dead end job.

    Psycholgoy is another aspect I'd like to do. I wouldn't want to be a therpaist because I have depression myself. I have trouble relating to other people and am in social insolation alot. I don't have any friends. So this field would be hard, despite my love for psychology.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2005 #2

    Well, you have a lot of cool, diverse interests. Don't forget, you can always pursue these interests no matter what your career is. Also, try and choose a major you will be interested in! Don't worry about what MSN says about which jobs make the most money, just go where your heart is and you'll be happy.

    Above, you listed five possible career choices. If you want to market electronic goods such as the PSP, you'd major in marketing.

    If you really want to review games for a living, you are going to need to go to school for writing. A major in english or journalism would work. Just remember, you can still write game reviews and have another job!

    As for your other choices; physicist,surgeon, and psychologist... well, they are all pretty different career paths and your road to each of them will be very different. Luckily, in your first year of college, you'll be able to take classes that are related to each of them.

    It's great you have ambition and a bunch of interests. Now it's up to you to do some research. Look online for descriptions and articles from each field. Go seek out physicists (here on PF), surgeons, psychologists, etc. and ask them about their career.

    You'll do fine in whatever you do, I'm sure. Good luck with everything!

    Edit - Whoops! Forgot to mention engineering! Well, you're on the right forum for that. There are plenty of practicing engineers here. I myself am in school for Electrical engineering. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2005
  4. Mar 27, 2005 #3

    I understand all the confusion you're going through, because when I was at your age where I was starting to decide on a course of study, I was completely confused. I also had lots of interests but didn't know what to do.

    To answer your question about physicists, yes some of them make a lot of money. A bachelor's degree in physics is usually followed by graduate study in physics or engineering or related fields. The realm of physics of is so broad that most students have to continue on for graduate level. I myself am majoring in physics and I am also majoring in electrical engineering and most probably will continue to graduate school in physics, hopefully.

    The money is important, but it should not be the one criteria you base your choice on. If you're making good money but your job is really boring and doesn't interest you, then you're not going to be happy.

    My advice is, don't stress out about it too much. Just make sure you go to college, and try to attend a decent size college that has different majors (and preferrebly an engineering school). Start out with any major because it is really easy to switch majors if you're attending school in the US. You can even have an undeclared major. Make sure that in your first two years you take Calculus I and II, calculus based Physics I and II. If you wanna be a physics major then you have to know math, a lot of it. You have to be an expert in math, so try these few courses and see how you like it. If you wanna go into the medical field then usually you have to major in a pre-med degree like chemistry or biology, so try to take some classes from that field too and see how you like it. During your first two years, you will get exposed to the nature of those careers from talking to your professors and classmates. Note that taking all those different classes will not waste your time or anything because if you're attending school in the US (or pretty much anywhere else) then you are required to take about 2 years' worth of generals electives, and those classes will fulfill your electives. Choose them wisely and don't waste your time taking easy classes that have no use.

    And you can also keep your hobbies while having a career doing something else. Remember, sometimes you will lose your interest in something if you wanna be a professional in it. For example, I would suggest you keep collecting coins on the side while doing whatever you wanna be doing, because you should have hobbies and you don't have to make a career out of your hobby.

    good luck in your studies. will be happy to answer any further inquiries that you have.
  5. Mar 28, 2005 #4
    Have you taken calculus yet? Since several of your choices involve a large amount of math, the first thing I would do is find out is if I could make it through all the math. If you can take calc I and calc II without going nuts, that's a good sign that you can handle the math. Most of the people that I know, that dropped out of an engineering or physics degree, quit after calc II.

    If your seriously considering going to medical school, I urge you to talk to as many doctors as you can. It's a profession that you have to be insanely dedicated to or you won't make it and you won't be happy.
  6. Mar 28, 2005 #5
    Hey guys,
    I have the same problem here, only that I am thinking of either Biotechnology or Physics. They're both fine to me, but I don't know about the nature of job of both of them. And I always feel that I can carry on with Physics on my own i.e, I don't need a degree, or that I can take one after finishing any Bachelor's whatsoever. Anyone can correct or help me out as well??

    Thanks in advance, and good luck to you, Quantum Theory too :smile:

    EDIT :
    Moneer81 said : Remember, sometimes you will lose your interest in something if you wanna be a professional in it

    That's a very crucial point, that's why I am afraid to major in physics so that I will lose interest in it later on.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2005
  7. Mar 28, 2005 #6
    Psycholgoy is another aspect I'd like to do. I wouldn't want to be a therpaist because I have depression myself. I have trouble relating to other people and am in social insolation alot. I don't have any friends. So this field would be hard, despite my love for psychology.

    Well, an intreseting issue that is well known among scientisct is the people who have motivation towrds doing a certain issue becuase of a personal experince. E.g: Many psychology thoeries in family issue is put down by poeple who had family problems in childhood [well, me may all do with different levels, mine was severe lol]. Or some docrots reseach abuot a disease that kil some of thier loved ones ...etc

    That can be a motivation, i got depression too. Put be strong and deal with it wisely and it will be out by time....
  8. Mar 28, 2005 #7
    Whatever you do, save your money and don't get into debt.

    Buy a house and pay it off. You'll thank me later.
  9. Mar 28, 2005 #8


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    i'm a little worried that you might wind up as my surgeon.
  10. Mar 28, 2005 #9


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    Whoa whoa whoa. It sounds like you think you can go into a physics related field without a degree. The only way you can even think about doing that is if you go into at the most, high school teaching. Most other positions that pay over.. $50,000 require an advanced degree as well. You also have to have a bachelors in Physics before most universities will allow you to get into a graduate school for a physics degree.
  11. Mar 28, 2005 #10


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    In reply to Quantum

    Sounds like your going into hugely different fields. Marketing doesnt require much education and can get you a high salary. It is a field that requires a lot of work though and is based on reputation (but no, you cant really become famous) and require a LOT of contact with people so you have to be very good with people. Also, better be able to keep your morals/ethics under control because the field requires a lot of BS and lieing and being rather unscrupulous.

    Working reviewing games is not a good idea at all. Most people who do work for gamespot or gamespy or whatever do it as a second job (at least those who review games) or as a past-time. The people who work full time for gamespot or companies like it are technicians, marketing, managing, administration, and other 'behind the scene' jobs. Theres also no such thing as a famous game reviewer hehe.

    Being a surgeon... i think its really one of those things that you need a passion for it and have that 'i want to help people' attitude. Its HARD work, possibly some of the hardest work humans can do especially during the first few years. It requires sometimes a decade of college education depending on how fast you go. You can get a lot of money though... and i mean a LOT. Neurosurgeons can make a million dollars after 2 surgeries in some cases and thats all they would do in that year! And you can actually be somewhat famous... but you gotta be one of the BEST.

    Being a physicist for NASA or an engineer.... well hmm. The whole physicist = NASA isnt really what it seems. Theres dozens of labs that require physicists and teaching positions and all sorts of stuff and this is what many people strive for instead of NASA because they feel they can do a lot more at a national lab then at NASA. The pay for research isnt great compared to the 8-12 years you need in college and graduate school unless you get a professorship at a university. Some profs make $250,000 a year! Being an engineer would be cool because theres a lot of fields of engineering and a lot you can do. You can also be somewhat famous.

    Working at a coin store... i have no idea lol. Probably a minimal amount of formal education requird there and i have no idea what pay is like and ive never heard of a famous coin store owner :)

    Psychology... i think out of all the things you listed, this has the biggest odds for money and fame. Problem is that your whole life revolves around people and you need the social skills and need a doctorate (which means a decade of college of course) and you dont seem like you want to deal with people.

    The thing with fame and popularity is that its pretty stupid. You painted the picture of the 'i dont have any friends and i want to be popular' guy. Well popularity is... its like a disease and leaving high school is the automatic cure. Funny thing is that once high school is over, the only people who end up keeping in contact with all the people they knew from high school and hang out with them are the losers who go to a community college! You could put most people into a room with Calvin Klein and a doctor of chemistry or physics or something and people may want to drool over this lil perfume guy, but in the end, your the respected one and your opinion is going to be seen as the better one. This of course, what people who are intelligent would think... but why would you care what dumb people think of ya :)
  12. Mar 29, 2005 #11
    For some reason your post just makes you seem well....I don't know how to put it. It seems as if you just want either a) a job where you make a lot of money, or b) a job that is completely useless but you make money and you have fun(somehow).

    If you have a mindset that you want to test video games as a living, then you will be nothing in your life. If you will do physics just for the money, it will get nowhere.

    One more thing, you have said that you bassically don't like math, if you don't have a passion for math, how would you ever even think about being a physicist? Do you think that every job in the world is easy and you will just pick one?

    Oh, and which highschool do you go to?

    EDIT: and playing video games for a living?
    someone would want to do that :surprised ?
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2005
  13. Mar 29, 2005 #12
    https://www.physicsforums.com/journal.php?s=&action=view&journalid=13790&perpage=10&page=7 [Broken]

    Check out the 'what is a physicist' entry. it gives you an image of the earnings in various countries...

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  14. Mar 29, 2005 #13
    looks like someone caught a few fish, lol
  15. Apr 1, 2005 #14
    Actually I do like math. I tutor math in high school. I used to at least.
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