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Jobs in Theoretical Physics

  1. Aug 5, 2005 #1
    Hey, I was wondering what kind of jobs someone can get with a degree in Theoretical Physics, and I'm also curious how if there is a decent job outlook.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2005 #2
    First you'll have to specify what kind of degree. Bachelors? masters? Ph.D? Each level opens another large job market.
  4. Aug 5, 2005 #3
    that's interesting question by kinsemc.

    i wanna know the same thing. suppose some one with phd degree in theoretical physics, specializing in ... lets say string theory?

    is there any conceivable job beside teaching?
  5. Aug 5, 2005 #4

    well, there's more to being a professor than teaching. they also work on their research, supervise their graduate students' projects, take on undergrads...

    yeah, it seems to me that there aren't extremely many options available outside academia.
  6. Aug 5, 2005 #5


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  7. Aug 6, 2005 #6
    Did you have any specific area in mind ?

    In short, I found the most useful link in older threads:


    I check it out now and then (when I remember to do it).
  8. Aug 6, 2005 #7
    thanks alot, those links were very useful Zapper and Igor
  9. Jun 21, 2009 #8


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    However, kinsemc and sniffer's original question was concerning jobs for *theoretical* physicists such as people who did a PhD in string theory. If I delete from the list all teaching jobs, postdocs and lectureships, pretty much all adverts are for *experimental* physicists (although I did count one advert specifically asking for theoretical physicists). A few banks are looking for people with quantitative PhDs, but they usually want some kowledge of / some years of experience in finance, and not everyone wants to work for a bank.

    Actually, you would think there would exist jobs in industry which might actually require theoretical physics specifically. Of course not string theory, but at least Newtonian physics, electromagnetism etc. I mean, when e.g. Airbus designed e.g. the A380, they must have employed theoretical physicists to build computer simulations of e.g. airflow. Or is it all just engineers? What about simulating chemical reactions, computer games, ...? But I've never seen adverts for such jobs (apart from weather forecasting, but these jobs are usually in academia). Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place?
  10. Jun 21, 2009 #9
    Industry employs some theoretical condensed matter physicists, but I think that other areas for theoretical physicists are either extremely limited or non-existant in industry.
  11. Jun 21, 2009 #10


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    I might just add another point that I've mentioned in other threads.

    Physics is an academic subject. It's not job training.

    Working on something like string theory or cosmology is essentially the pursuit of a very specific, academic problem. Most businesses do not have a need for people to work on these specific problems. What they need are people with the skills to work on problems relevant to the services they provide.

    It's up to the physicist then, through his or her education, to first of all develop a skill set that has applications in the industrial world, and then to identify areas where these skills will be needed.

    There are all sorts of skills that you can take away from specialization in a theoretical area: programming, modeling, problem-solving, teaching, writing, project management, etc. but not everyone develops all of these to the same extent.
  12. Sep 9, 2011 #11
    I agree with that as a theoretical physicist you can develop all sorts of skills which are most useful in the industrial world take away from specialization in a theoretical area.
    and what's more, as a theoretical physicist (of mid level or higher),especially the ones work on fundamental physics, such as string theory or relativity, many jobs are just too easy for you according to your intellectual level,if you just wish to stop your academic career and have a job,for a job I mean some kind of engineering or applied tech or mathematical financial or other easier things(a mid math/science teacher e.g.) with mid or higher level income .
    and the ones work in subfields with wide applications, such as condensed matter ,nuclear , optics, things would be even more easier,what he need is just get some kind of licenses of engineering on related fields of tech or something equivalent to that,then join a company, he will find that what he need to do is just some kind of phenomenology with large help from highly developed computer software.
    But most of physicists would never do that, give up physics is almost the same word of 'you are a loser of life' to them in the sense 'physics is too hard for me, even I thought I was clever enough earlier'(='I'm too stupid'),they would just change research areas to relative easier subfields or less theoretical ones, see the example of John Baze ,he gives up string theory recent years, but still researches on some applied areas, q-information e.g. , and has done good jobs.
    situation is different for a physical student, who has not became a theoretical physicist yet. if you do not like academic life, I suggest you get some 'useful' PhD, it will save your time. but if you have got a PhD on physics ,it's also good, a PhD means you have already mastered enough general tech and knowledge for most industrial company real needs ,what you need is turn to a applied area or engineering you are interested in, you would soon master the skills you need in practical work.
    forgive my terrible english plz,already corrected by word
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2011
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