1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I don't want to teach

  1. Nov 8, 2012 #1
    Hi I want to be a scientist and I want to research. Can I do those without having to teach? I don't know if I want to work in industry or academia yet but if do work in academia do I have to teach or can I just do research?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yes - you can apply for a non-teaching position.

    That probably rules out academia though... you are normally expected to do some teaching sometime: that's how Universities are supposed to work - you get to do pure research with the Universities resources on condition you share your expertise by teaching classes. New academics get the classes nobody else wants ;)

    With industry or military there is not so much the need.
  4. Nov 9, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hey Delong.

    Many people do make a living out of researching but it's not exactly what most people think of research (especially a lot of scientists).

    Journalists for example (real investigative journalists) do research and get paid to do that as their job and they have specific pay structures and things to deal with in order to get paid for not only doing the research but more importantly having an actual piece either taken and/or published in some form.

    You also get what I call "professional speakers" (and I don't mean that in a condescending way when I use quotes) that go around holding conferences, giving talks, and doing presentations based on their own expertise who engage in research.

    They can range from motivational gurus to the activists and other informational speakers delivering information that others find valuable (if they didn't then they wouldn't get paid if they weren't subsidized by another source of income).

    You also have companies that employ researchers for a variety of reasons internally if they don't consult externally with academics or other third parties.

    But there is a common thread between them all: they all get paid depending on the value they produce for who is paying them and the trade-off is in academia that you will need to teach because the general idea is that funds go to where the people with the funds think is important, and if the government instead of the business or the consumer is paying your paycheck then you have to deal with the situation that involves.

    If you only want to do research that benefits only you (or an extremely narrow special interest) then they are the only people that will support you.
  5. Nov 9, 2012 #4
    thank you for the answers everyone. I'm ok with some teaching as long as I am doing research for the main part of my job. It just seems most important to me. I will think of more to say when I am not as busy
  6. Nov 15, 2012 #5
    ok thank you I don't think I have any more of the same question
  7. Nov 15, 2012 #6
    It depends where you want to do research - I can tell you in the UK in particle physics it is possible to have a career with minimal or no teaching at a UNiversity.

    However usually research only jobs at Universities are funded from external (to the University) research grants and if you don't have one you will likely be made redundant. Even in these job usually you are looking at 1-2 hours teaching a week because Uni's don't have enough teaching staff. However e.g. the LHC is likely to run a long, long time so probably there will be funding for peoples jobs stable on longer timescales (and you can see people who have been postdocs - i.e. research only jobs - for 10 or even 20 years at most UK University particle physics groups)

    Also you could work at a national lab where there are no teaching responsibilities, and this might (not sure...) be more secure.

    I would also say in the physics department where I work e.g. in materials type research there seem to be long-term research only people, but again I suspect these are very dependent on having a research grant to fund their jobs and if they miss out in one funding cycle then redundancy comes (and once you are older say 35+ its very hard to get another research job in the experience of many of my colleagues who had this situation...they like young people only). I would suspect given they don't have long term experiments like the LHC its a lot easier to miss out in a funding cycle.
  8. Nov 16, 2012 #7
    In industry you probably do have to teach, but it is called "mentoring" and it is just as important as the rest of your job. It isn't like teaching Mechanics 101 but collaboration and passing knowledge on to the rest of the company is vital in the long term.
  9. Nov 16, 2012 #8
    Yep you will also have to mentor/train PhD students in a research only job at universities.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook