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I need help choosing majors! Civil engineering or physics

  1. Apr 2, 2013 #1
    I really like physics and civil engineering. I want to both do research in physics and work and design in civil engineering. I eventually want to be a professor in either one. Can anyone give me some advice choosing majors. Should I be a double major, or do a minor? Should I get a bachelor's in physics, and a master's in civil engineering or perhaps the other way around? Also can you suggest some career paths that require both? Thanks!
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  3. Apr 2, 2013 #2


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    What are your future life-plans? Some specialties in CE might require you to move regularly to remain gainfully employed. I have a nephew that chose that path, and he moves fairly regularly. We don't see him for months, at times, because he's putting in lots of hours and travel can be expensive and time-consuming.
  4. Apr 2, 2013 #3


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    Civil Engineering is a good career, but, largely involves construction which can be unpredictable, as Turbo noted. I think a BS in physics is a great place to start. A masters in engineering is a great fit, and will only take about a year longer to complete vs a BS in engineering. It will also give you a leg up on the competition and puts you on the fast track for a PE license - which provides upward mobility [and opens wallets].
  5. Apr 2, 2013 #4


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    One of my co-workers has a child who was doing physics at a liberal arts school, and is transfering to an engineering school; after 6 years total she will have a BS in physics and a BS in civil engineering. I asked why her child didn't just get a masters in civil after the BS in physics - the reply was that the certifications that her child needed (edit: since many civil jobs are through government or regulated by government) actually required a BS in civil engineering.

    So look into the requirements before you chose. Do not take my third-hand "knowledge" as fact - really research this yourself and ask civil engineers what is required. Perhaps my co-worker and her child heard wrong ...

    I wish you the best.

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
  6. Apr 2, 2013 #5


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    A BS in physics will give you a great education, but it's very hard to sell that to hiring managers. They have no idea what your skill set is, and if you're applying to an industry that is new to you (e.g. aerospace), you won't know what their needs are.

    It can be very frustrating to a new physics grad to see employers crawling over each other to hire engineers, while your inbox just gets spam.

    Engineering is wildly diverse and full of opportunities. I know CEs who have never had to move for their jobs, ever. The CE field covers transportation, construction, structural engineering, environmental engineering, geotechnical, etc.

    Do a search of these forums to learn about the challenges relating to becoming a physics professor. It's a long shot.
  7. Apr 7, 2013 #6
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