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Job Market for Applied Physics?

  1. Oct 9, 2014 #1
    How's the current job market for Applied Physics? Anyone with an applied physics degree(BS, MS, PhD) on here wanna comment?
    It seems from reading some of the posts in this sub-forum that the overall job market for pure physics or mathematics isn't very good and people are having to apply to other jobs instead.

    Is it the same situation for an MS in applied physics? (Any of the specializations)
    Someone working in the field knows more about this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2014 #2


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    Purely anecdotal but, it took me a couple of years to get a job that wasn't in physics with my BS in Applied Physics. I have a friend and a coworker that have a Masters in physics. Neither of them is working in the field but that doesn't mean they aren't smart and gainfully employed. :)
  4. Oct 9, 2014 #3
    Getting a decent job is of course much better than not getting any job, right? :D
    So yeah the question should be modified I guess to say:
    Do you get a job that isn't completely unrelated to your education (unrelated e.g bartending) ?
    How hard was it to get (any) job, not completed unrelated to your education with an M.S in Applied Physics?
  5. Oct 9, 2014 #4
    My feeling and experience - which admittedly was several years ago - was that it depends heavily on what skills you graduate with.

    So what skills do or will you have? What lab equipment can you operate? What processes can you manage? What programming or computer skills do you have?

    What can you do?
  6. Oct 9, 2014 #5
    It took me about two years to get a job with my MS in physics (in which I did industry friendly "applied" style research). In the interim I worked at a restaurant.

    I wouldn't say I am "in the field" though. Being in the physics field means being a physicist. I'm an engineer by job title and do a variety of non-physics things in my day to day.
  7. Oct 9, 2014 #6
    Thanks for the reply. I think I'd consider applied physics, engineering or maybe even programming as closely related for my purposes as long as they are industry jobs. May I ask, what did you specialize in?
  8. Oct 9, 2014 #7
    My degree coursework was not specialized. Just the typical quantum, E&M, stat mech and classical mech. My research was in materials/thin films. I also took engineering classes after I graduated.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  9. Oct 10, 2014 #8
    I have a PhD in Applied Physics (but I graduated more than 15 years ago in Europe) - and I second Locrian.
    I had specialized in the fabrication of superconducting thin films by pulsed-laser deposition and characterization of such films.

    My first job was concerned with micro-characterization of stainless steel in a large non-university research center - this was contract research for the steel industry, in part funded by national or EU agencies.

    Skills interesting to the employer were:

    - Hands-on experience with various devices and interpretation of results - such as X-ray diffraction, STEM, TEM, IR spectrosopy, optical microscopes,...
    - Maintaining and fixing high-vacuum equipment.
    - Lab routines and best practices, "quality management" for working with samples of materials, working in a team of scientists and technicians (being familiar with the "culture").
    - Materials science background - obviously they believed I could make the transition from high-temperature superconductors to steel. As for coursework, things like solid state physics, crystallography, and in general elective courses more related to chemistry or materials science than physics might have been important.
    - Working towards the goal of optimizing special properties of materials.
    - Project management and controlling of an international reasearch project.

    I think the last one was quite important, probably compensating for my lack of familiarity with steel in particular.
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