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Physics Is AstroPhysics risky for career?

  1. Nov 2, 2007 #1
    I deadly like to read and think the topics of astrophysics.I am an undgrad student of physics major. Is it really hard to make good career in astrophysics? are not jobs too much available ?
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2007 #2
    The total number of jobs directly in astrophysics is decently small, although the number gets bigger depending on how you define the category. As such, it can be harder to get into than other career options. But if you love it, that's not going to stop you...you're doing a major in physics right now, and that's hardly easy, right?
  4. Nov 3, 2007 #3
    From what I can see, a lot of people who study astrophysics end up working as engineers. It is kind of the safety blanket. These people usually end up as really really good engineers too.
  5. Nov 3, 2007 #4
    Hmm.....Interesting... So what can i do? I am really in confusion.
  6. Nov 3, 2007 #5
    So will it be better to complete graduation in engineering and get the safety blanket.After that i should try to get phd on Astrophysics?
  7. Nov 3, 2007 #6


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  8. Nov 3, 2007 #7
    No no, don't study engineering. What I am saying is you don't need a degree in engineering to be an engineer. Go look at the IEEE Gold Medal winners. What degree do most have? Physics (including Astrophysics). Study what you like. If it is Astrophysics then study Astrophysics. One of our systems engineers has a physics degree, one of our quality engineers has a physics degree, we have several in optics with physics degrees and in algorthms... None of these people studied engineering one moment in school. Did it hurt their careers, no not at all.

    Study your Astrophysics. It that doesn't work out, many companies will hire you as an engineer.
  9. Nov 3, 2007 #8
    I need to give the warning that I know NOTHING about Astrophysics itself. Only that the company I work for hires people with physics degrees (including Geophysics and Astrophysics) as engineers. There doesn't seem to be any advantage to getting an engineering degree vs. a physics degree. I don't know if that is true in general but it is true where I work.

    Maybe others can say if that is true in general....
  10. Nov 3, 2007 #9
    unfortunately a lot of jobs on there are reposted in several sections. interesting to look at anyway.
  11. Nov 4, 2007 #10
    Oh thanks i am feeling better after knowing this information.
  12. Nov 4, 2007 #11
    Hmm... astrophysics has more jobs than others...!!!
  13. Nov 4, 2007 #12


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    While it looks good now, you should try to find out what the trends are in the near future (in time for your entry on the job scene). You might find out some info from http://aip.org/statistics/ . Visit this and the jobs-site above annually as you proceed in your education.
  14. Nov 4, 2007 #13
    That's unusual, in general. Most companies look for PE (or near PE) engineers to fill positions, largely for legal reasons. Certainly a fair number of physicists work as engineers, but the vast majority of engineering jobs are not open to them.
  15. Nov 4, 2007 #14

    In my opinion, astrophysics isn't risky so much as it is very slow. You'll have a job, the problem is that the good jobs are very hard to get.

    You can expect to get your B.S. in physics, then spend on average 6 years in grad school, and then spend 4-10 years as a postdoc or other temporary position. These positions are often fun, and they give you a lot of freedom professionally, but on the other hand they are also temporary, and can make having any kind of stable life difficult. Many people in astrophysics feel like their careers really didn't begin until 35 or 40 years old.

    You can really expect to work in a university the rest of your life. If you love the culture and the material, I think you can be very happy at this. You should also find out what typical salaries are for astrophysicists, and note that they are significantly lower than some other areas of physics. Obviously you aren't in this for money, but it isn't strange for people who say this to still be upset about getting getting paid what a middle school teacher does after 10 years of college education - and that is what you can expect in a postdoc.

    In other words, the field is very rewarding for a select few. Make sure you're one of them.
  16. Nov 4, 2007 #15
    While it's true that many astrophysics positions are within universities, you are not limited there. There are government jobs available, such as at NASA or ESA centers (as well as DOE and DOD, strangely enough), and there are non-university research institutes that also do work within astrophysics. Staff of observatories mainly maintain the facilities, but some also house astrophysicists who analyze the data.

    I disagree with this. From what I've seen, astrophysicists are paid very well, much higher than I was previously led to believe. Salary depends on a lot of factors, but I would say that astrophysics pays around the same as other physics branches (with some exceptions, such as medical physics, which is one of the highest paying).
  17. Nov 4, 2007 #16
    Well, it depends on the type of engineer. For REAL engineers (meaning with a license) yes, that is correct. These are the people who build bridges or do public works. However in most of high tech (especially EE and software) real engineers (PEs) are quite rare. A company might keep one or two around for paper work and legal reasons but most of the "engineers" just have a technical degree, ie no legal standing. In software (the jobs where physics majors are often hired into), there are NO licenses in the US. At least that is my experience. No one I work with has a PE license.
  18. Nov 4, 2007 #17
    Lot of time.........If i want to be rewarded and start a good career quickly i think i need to be the second hawking, Need big blow like hawking's singularity...Am i right?
    How much its hard or take time to get a permanent job in Top class University as a teacher?
    How much is the salary at the post doc period? Is it so low that even i can't buy a simple car?
    I would really feel myself lucky if i could join NASA. But i want to research in theoretical Astrophysics.Can theoretical astrophysicists work at nasa? am again in danger? I have a very abstract idea. If i tell you you will tell me fool,mad,goat or something more. So not telling that.But if its true...oh i cant explain.(i asked a physicist about this idea. He told it can be true).Anyway I think to prove it i need new particle like neutralino (as far as i am understanding) which has penetrating power.So University job as teacher is the best for me.

    I have taken few attempts to leave physics in my life.But its not leaving me. My life is not so large only completing first year in my university.Result will be published soon. I am scared if i fail ! Really wasted time by not reading text books properly and reading other books and thinking about ruuuubish ideas.

    I thought if i can do well in astrophysics i will research on string theory later( i am a great fan of string theory and i am well known in my friends as string lover). But if astrophysics has this condition then what condition in career of string theory?Haahaha

    Pray for me guys..hehe
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2007
  19. Nov 4, 2007 #18
    Yes, but as with theoretical astrophysics in general, the number of positions is very small.

    I'm a little confused. You've completed one year at a university, is that correct? How do you know enough physics to form a new, publishable particle physics theory?
  20. Nov 4, 2007 #19
    when was writing the last post two more reviews came. Locrian, Laura,wildman and all have some positive and negetive opinions. At first sometimes i was being happy sometimes scared. Now really enjoying this.More discussion should be go on and we should clear it.

    In a article of Mishio kaku he said that now there is a job problem because of old scientists who are called the sputnic group or something like that. In few years they will start to retire. Then for our generation it should be easier to make a good career with astrophysics.
  21. Nov 4, 2007 #20
    Yes the information is correct. Only first year. I have have a sell phone. Last year almost always i used it like a palmtop. I took it everywhere and read articles from internet. I have read everything what i like. Even i have given lot of time to understand theories like RS(Randal Sandrum) models I and II. I need two understand the equation.So i am lagging behind because of mathematics.And i am not telling my idea will be true. I will have to do this after few yrs. Just thinking about it. I know nothing of physics now .So my idea is still Philosophy , i have to make it physics.

    I think now i should concentrate on my result.If i don't do it then i will have to do the job what einstein did. Nasa is far far away....
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2007
  22. Nov 4, 2007 #21
    Well, it is true the baby boomers will be retiring soon, but how soon is very much in question. More importantly, there's plenty of postdocs to take their place. Remember that the length of postdoc positions has been increasing for decades, and it is especially bad for astrophysics - it isn't strange to hear of people spending 10 years in temporary positions! Combine this with the trend at universities to replace tenured professors with temporary lecturers and the pressure on those entering into the field is still going to be very high.

    This shouldn't discourage you, it should just fit the theme I'm trying to lay out for you. Go into this field if you are dedicated to it, and once in it be on your game. You need great grades, fantastic grad research and good references. Cultivate those things and things will go well. Don't and you'll pay a hefty price.
  23. Nov 4, 2007 #22
    Thanks locrian for a nice post.And thanks for encouraging me.
    But how much is the salary in the temporary positions like lecturer in universities? is it very poor?
  24. Nov 5, 2007 #23
    I don't really mean to be critical here... it's clear that English is not your first language. But you need to be careful. Claiming to have a new theory after one year of studies and announcing it with errors like this does not scream "young genius". It screams "crank".

    You will have to get a Ph.D. through the normal route? :smile:
  25. Nov 5, 2007 #24
    Part-time faculty pay in the USA tends to be pretty bad. Pay for post-docs is likewise on the low side. Doing a post-doc as part-time faculty? The internet has a word for this, and the word is "LOL". P.T. Barnum would have preferred "sucker," which is a bit easier to use in conversation.
  26. Nov 5, 2007 #25
    Oh no i m not so dare to claim a new theory.Just a simple idea to change our vision to see nature.
    I m also not dare to claim myself a genius.
    And with einstein's job i mean that i will not get good job and i have be a clark like him.
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