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Physics Jobs during a PhD

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Hello all:

I am asking for your personal experience , did you were able to work normally with your PhD studies ? What kind of work ?
Is it easier with theoretical PhD or an experimental one ?

Best
H.B.
 

Choppy

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A lot can really depend on the specific circumstances of the individual, the program, the supervisor, and the type of work you're talking about. Also, remember that a PhD typically takes ~ 4-6 years to complete. So the phase of the PhD will have different demands at different times.

In my experience it was common for students to work a full TA while pursuing the PhD. This involved teaching 3-4 lab sessions (about 12 hours of in-lab time), or marking, or leading tutorial sessions, during the fall and winter semesters. So already most students will have this "extra-curricular" commitment.

My PhD is in medical physics, where many students also took on QA jobs. This could eat up a fair number of hours depending on the details as well, but it was direct, field-specific experience, and it tended to pay well for the time you put in.

Beyond this kind of thing, I'd make sure to have a good conversation with your supervisor or your graduate advisor about a part-time job. You certainly *can* have another job, but remember, that's going to cut into either your study time or other important dimensions of your life (sleep, exercise, social time, etc.). And the effect is that you'll either not perform as well as you might wish, or you'll end up taking even longer to do your PhD. And you may also have specific time commitments to your project. If you have to be in the lab monitoring something at regular time intervals, ducking out of that responsibility to make some cash on the side probably won't go over well.
 
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I've known lots of students who held TA positions and similar while working on a PhD. I would say that any on-campus job is OK during the early part of the PhD program, but towards the end, the studies are too intense to allow for additional work.
 
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What about a job outside the campus ?
Regular one
 
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Personally, I've never known a physics PhD student who could hold down a full-time off-campus job. I'm a PhD student currently, and I can't possibly fathom doing that. It's not just a question of time, it's a question of mental energy. A physics PhD takes all of your mental energy, and then some.
 

Choppy

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What about a job outside the campus ?
Regular one
The same general principles apply whether the job is on campus or off campus.

If you're talking about a full-time job, while there are exceptional cases, I don't think it's advisable to expect to hold down a full time job while completing a PhD. As Dishsoap said, even beyond the issue of time, there's mental energy to account for. You need quality down time. And if every moment of your day is accounted for, you don't have any flexibility to adapt to unforeseen problems as they arise.
 
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Then even if I took the theoretical road there is the fact that with a regular job it will need a little more time to finish it ,that not a problem for me , but if you could work as RA isn't that considered better paying
 

Choppy

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Not sure if you're aware on not, but in most cases PhD students are financially supported (my experience is North American and Canadian more specifically). Depending on the school, they will support admitted students with a combination of stipends, scholarships, and TA or RA positions. The amount of money you earn isn't a lot. Most jobs that you can get with a STEM undergraduate degree will pay considerably more. But it's usually enough to support yourself without accumulating debt.
 
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Then even if I took the theoretical road there is the fact that with a regular job it will need a little more time to finish it ,that not a problem for me , but if you could work as RA isn't that considered better paying
That's not really how it works. For every year you take to finish your PhD, (in the US) your advisor will have to pay another year of tuition/stipend for you.
 

StatGuy2000

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That's not really how it works. For every year you take to finish your PhD, (in the US) your advisor will have to pay another year of tuition/stipend for you.
@Dishsoap , you mention that you've never known a physics PhD student to be able to hold down a full-time job off campus. Do physics PhD students not accept (paid) internships related to their research during the summer months when they are not physically on campus? This is quite common for statistics PhD students, and I imagine would also be the case for, say, engineering PhD students.

I would imagine those in experimental research areas within physics may well benefit from internships external to their organization during summer months in a similar manner (e.g. Los Alamos National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore, Intel, etc.)
 
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I do know physics students that have taken internships, but I assumed the OP was talking about a full-time job at the same time as typical PhD work. Maybe I'm mistaken.

(but also, as a caveat, I know way fewer PhD students than most of the other people in this thread)
 
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Thank you all, I am asking in case some one is planning to have a family in near future , in that case , regular jobs will be the better option so , your wife won't face the need to do double shifts , (llnl , la , etc), are very good options ,but if that will force her to work double shifts , then that is highly questionable .

Dose internships or TA able to support you in real life situation , if you are single then it is easy , but with some people with you that other kind of challenge
 

jtbell

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Do physics PhD students not accept (paid) internships related to their research during the summer months when they are not physically on campus?
When I was a RA under my research group while working on my PhD, my stipend was for the entire year, including the summer. I continued working for them in the summer, although I could take a couple of weeks off to visit parents or travel, as long as it didn’t bump up against work deadlines.
 
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@jtbell didn't you try for example school teaching with your PhD isn't that possible
 

Dr Transport

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When I went to graduate school, the offer letter for an assistant-ship stated clearly that we could not hold outside employment, they even gave me trouble because I was in the Reserves (they backed off when I stated that they could not prevent me from the Reserves without jeopardizing any and all federal funding if I complained, after that I had a professor try yo flunk me for missing a final exam because of Reserves, I complained and he backed off when he was threatened with loss of all his funding and banishment from DoD contracts).

Check with your advisor before taking a position outside of his/her lab.
 

jtbell

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@jtbell didn't you try for example school teaching with your PhD isn't that possible
When I was a grad student a long time ago (40 years ago!), a few students who did not have full assistantships (teaching and/or research) taught physics or math part-time at a nearby community college. I've never heard of anyone teaching at high-school (or lower) level while working on a PhD.

(In the US, "community college" is at the same level as first and second year of undergraduate university.)
 
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But school teaching is durable, on the other hand the community college is only on semester base
 

George Jones

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But school teaching is durable, on the other hand the community college is only on semester base
Do you realize how much time (on a daily basis) it takes to be a beginning full-time school teacher? Do you realize how time (on a daily basis) it takes to do a Ph.D. full-time?
 
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I live currently in the middle east -lebanon-
Here they start the school from 7 until 11am or 1 pm then you can continue another things , but for PhD that a tricky question I don't know I am not currently doing PhD
 

jtbell

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Here they start the school from 7 until 11am or 1 pm then you can continue another things
In the US a full-time school teacher works from at least 8am until about 3pm; longer if you include things like grading (marking) and course prepraration.
 
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That why ,I am confused , community college is your first option if you are living in the US , but is it enough income for a family ?
 

jtbell

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The community college work I referred to was part-time: one or two courses at most. It was intended to supplement an assistantship that was smaller than normal.

In the US, graduate students shouldn't expect to support a family completely via their assistantships, and possible supplemental income like teaching at a community college. Especially if they have children. The married grad students that I remember, had spouses who also worked.
 
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Good advice , teaching is far better then even with that work span , but that will effect your social life clearly
 

WWGD

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What about a job outside the campus ?
Regular one
What is your life experience in terms of allocating mind share. Have you been able to do it effectively? Never ran into this option, etc? Will the side job maybe allow you to exercise physically so you get benefits , etc? It seems difficult to give a general answer.
 
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From where I came from they all do it , I am amazed with how much a PhD student in other countries is pressured to the brink , yes I did it , and it was easy . In case of teaching I don't know about other professions
 

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