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Physics Is there a job shortage for a Physics Graduate?

  1. Jul 17, 2012 #1
    Hi, I am planning to pursue a carear in Physics Master's degree. Before I go to college I want to know if there is a shortage of jobs for Physics Graduates. I haven't been introduced to all the fields of physics yet, so I just want an average answer.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 17, 2012 #2
    In my opinion, there's a shortage of jobs period. As a physics major, you're schooling and is impressive but the scope of jobs to which you can apply is relatively limited. In a small market, limiting your eligible job opportunities obviously just makes getting a job more difficult.

    That having been said, there aren't many non-limiting Master's degrees in the sciences. There's a delicate balance between specializing and becoming limited or getting a degree in something general to the point where your skills are more broad, and unfortunately thus more superficial. With a degree in physics myself, I have found that I have had the most luck with jobs when I had some experience in the area. For instance, I did a few years research in visual neuroscience as it relates to computer vision - a more bioengineering based project. Soon thereafter, I was a researcher for an Ophthalmology department and my projects shared similarities with my pursuit in visual neuroscience.

    My bottom line though would be that if you're interested then do it. It doesn't really matter what the job market is. If you find the job market is tough, you'll diversify the job types to which you apply. You'll have a foot in the door because you're impressive on paper. The only problem will be selling yourself (your ability to learn, problem solve, statistical and mathematical prowess, project oriented mindset, etc.) over those applicants who have direct and applicable backgrounds to that position. At the end of the day, you'll fall into where you want to be as long as you yourself don't become complacent.

    Best of luck!
  4. Jul 17, 2012 #3
    I think you'd be better of getting a Masters in Engineering. Engineering is applied physics, and applied is much more marketable than anything theoretical. My outlook on things is a bit different than many people on PF or in the real world. I don't believe in studying things you enjoy just for the sake of enjoyment. An education is an investment and should have some sort of ROI for it to be worth your time. If you love art history and major in it good luck finding a job, as an example. If you feel your calling is to get a masters degree in physics, make sure to google potential jobs with that level of education. I think degrees in physics are good in the aspect that they show you are intelligent and can process difficult information well which might be marketable to an employer but English majors are smart too. It's really a toss up. I go where the sure jobs are because that's why people go to school, for a better future. Sorry if I seem pessimistic.
  5. Jul 18, 2012 #4
    I have quite a few friends with PhDs in math and physics, and several of them are unemployed, underemployed, or doing serial post-docs to make ends meet until something permanent comes along. At least one of my friends (a physics PhD) jokes about being a "house husband." He graduated from a top 20 program, researched and published, but can't find a permanent job. He's too theoretical for industry, but can't find a job as a theorist. Go figure.

    Academic (professor) jobs are exceedingly hard to come by---our department received 600 applications for one job opening!---so don't plan your career expecting to be a professor. Stick with something that has some applicability to industry, defense, etc., in order to maximize your job prospects.
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