Intelligent hands-on job with a physics degree

  • #1
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Hi everybody!
So I got a Masters in physics (precisely - biophysics) 5 years ago. Then attempted to get a PhD, realized that research and academia don't feel right to me and quit. Now I'm 28. Despite the lack of the doctoral degree, working in the lab gave me many skills. Biomedical engineering, programming, operating complex equipment, data analysis (which I hated!), and even making surgeries. But most importantly - the understanding that I like to work with hands and have a social work environment. So to your knowledge, what kinds of jobs are there that are primarily hands-on, but intelligent, and ideally involve some degree of communication? Salary/social status are of no concern.

So far I came up with a high school science teacher, special equipment trainer/instructor, and a special effects specialist (like Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman :D). Something like a test/field/service engineer is also tempting, but given my scientific background, I'm not sure how possible it is to get a job there.

Looking for your advice! Thanks!
 

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  • #2
kuruman
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Hi @strocs and welcome to PF.

Have you considered the pharmaceutical industry? One of my advisees with a physics B.S. got a job working for a well known company programming robots to do drug tests. The company sent him back to school and paid for his Masters degree. He did quite well and rose through the ranks to be project manager.
 
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  • #3
Dr Transport
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Lab engineer at a govt lab.....
 
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  • #4
CrysPhys
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So I got a Masters in physics (precisely - biophysics) 5 years ago. Then attempted to get a PhD, realized that research and academia don't feel right to me and quit. Now I'm 28.
Could you clarify your situation? You completed your MS Physics 5 years ago. So since then, you have been working on a PhD program for 5 years, just quit, and are now looking for a job? Or did you quit much earlier (if so, when), been doing something else (if so, what), and are now looking for a new job?
 
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  • #5
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Could you clarify your situation? You completed your MS Physics 5 years ago. So since then, you have been working on a PhD program for 5 years, just quit, and are now looking for a job? Or did you quit much earlier (if so, when), been doing something else (if so, what), and are now looking for a new job?
It's the first one. I quit the PhD just recently, in August. And now looking for a job. So, if that's important, on my CV I can say "worked as a researcher for 5 years" (in Germany, where I've been doing a PhD they actually hire you as a "researcher" and you almost don't get any additional courses, which is different from the US, where PhD is a part of graduate "school").
 
  • #6
CrysPhys
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It's the first one. I quit the PhD just recently, in August. And now looking for a job. So, if that's important, on my CV I can say "worked as a researcher for 5 years" (in Germany, where I've been doing a PhD they actually hire you as a "researcher" and you almost don't get any additional courses, which is different from the US, where PhD is a part of graduate "school").
Ah, a critical piece of the puzzle. So, are you looking for a job in Germany only, or are you considering other countries as well (if so, which ones)? Your options, and the bias (if any) you will face as someone who attempted a PhD, but quit after 5 years, will vary with the country. Also, clarify whether you are a German citizen (if not, what)?
 
  • #7
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Ah, a critical piece of the puzzle. So, are you looking for a job in Germany only, or are you considering other countries as well (if so, which ones)? Your options, and the bias (if any) you will face as someone who attempted a PhD, but quit after 5 years, will vary with the country. Also, clarify whether you are a German citizen (if not, what)?
After considering different options I'm looking now mostly towards New Zealand and Australia. I'm a Russian citizen. It somewhat an issue because of the visa, but I'm on my way to have it solved within two years.
 
  • #8
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Lab engineer at a govt lab.....
That sounds interesting. What such people usually do?
 
  • #9
CrysPhys
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That sounds interesting. What such people usually do?
Before you get too interested, you need to determine whether this option is even available to you. Positions in government labs often have requirements on residency and citizenship. Since you are a Russian citizen seeking a job outside of Russia, you better find out what the requirements are (country specific). This is one of the reasons I asked for details of citizenship and country of interest; some options are dependent on them.
 
  • #10
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Before you get too interested, you need to determine whether this option is even available to you. Positions in government labs often have requirements on residency and citizenship. Since you are a Russian citizen seeking a job outside of Russia, you better find out what the requirements are (country specific). This is one of the reasons I asked for details of citizenship and country of interest; some options are dependent on them.
I'll definitely research this issue. But I think at this moment I'll focus on where to aim, leaving the question on how to reach it for later. What do you think, whats jobs could combine working with hands, be somewhat intelligent, involve communication with people, and won't require an additional degree to what I currently have?
 
  • #11
Choppy
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If you have any machine shop experience you could look into getting into either a machine shop or some kind of design and fabrication lab. You can find these in larger hospitals, for example, where they are tasked with making devices to assist with patient treatments that aren't commercially available (or are ridiculously expensive).

Another idea might be a medical physics assistant. These are people commonly hired in radiation therapy centres to conduct many of the day-to-day measurements necessary for a rigid quality control program. The MPA positions tend not to have a lot of upward mobility, but there is a lot of hands on technical work, and certainly effective communication skills are necessary to do well in the position. You could also expand that into other types of quality control work, I suppose.
 
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  • #12
CrysPhys
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But most importantly - the understanding that I like to work with hands and have a social work environment. So to your knowledge, what kinds of jobs are there that are primarily hands-on, but intelligent, and ideally involve some degree of communication? Salary/social status are of no concern.
<<Emphasis added.>> At least in the US, major universities with large lab facilities employ full-time research support staff. They design and maintain facilities; design, install, and maintain equipment; train students; and perform research tasks for professors and other lead investigators. Salary and social status are low compared to faculty or industry; but you indicated those factors are of no concern to you. There is at least one forum member from Australia; perhaps that person will chime in on opportunities at Australian universities.
 
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