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Life of an experimental physicist

  1. Jun 15, 2011 #1
    Whats the work life of an experimental physicist like? Hours? Pay? Activities and duties? etc. etc.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2011 #2
    Useless question. It is much too broad. Because the question is too broad, the associated variance on the answers is going to swamp out their validity.

    I know experimentalists who make 30k and ones who make 300K/year. I know experimentalists that work 9-5, 5 days a week. And ones who work 60 hour weeks consistently.
  4. Jun 16, 2011 #3
    300k a year? That sounds a bit stretched. I didn't even realize an experimental physicist can make over 60k?

    Please enlighten me on this. =d
  5. Jun 16, 2011 #4
    The guy did his PhD in astronomy, but he focused on the optics used and how to design optical systems. He now works for a company designing, testing, researching, etc. gun scopes. He loves his job and they pay him really well.
  6. Jun 16, 2011 #5
    Interesting. But it seems like an mathematical outlier in the data. I would rather have the average, or something to be reasonably expected to get a sense of what the life of an experimental physicist is like.
  7. Jun 17, 2011 #6
    I'm not sure how insightful asking for the average of what experimentalists overal make--my guess is it is similar to theoreticians. It is probably more meaningful to think about where you want your career to go: national lab, R1 university, slacs, or industry and then compare mid-career wages.

    As for a 'typical' workweek for this experimentalist: Lately I've spent a lot of time writing C++/python code to analyze data, thought long and hard about tricky statistical problems, built and ran monte carlo simulations of physics events and detector simulations, and actually found time to go the lab and measure something.
  8. Jun 17, 2011 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    Dismissing a data point because it doesn't agree with your prejudices is the mark of a poor scientist.

    There is no "average". That's what people have been trying to tell you. I don't understand why you ask questions and don't pay any attention to the answers. This is also a mark of a poor scientist.
  9. Jun 17, 2011 #8
    For bold - Thank you very much. ^.^

    Hm, one question, how many hours per week do you find yourself working?

    I am not dismissing it, in fact I found it interesting. But, I'm looking for the mode .. An estimate of a number that is seen most often. Not looking for an outlier.

    And I'm sorry if you feel that I don't pay attention to the answers. But that is not my intention-- and I'm just trying to get some things down straight and attain at least a sort of idea of what an experimental physicist work-life is like.
  10. Jun 17, 2011 #9
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