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MSc Computational Physics: career options & salary?

  1. Nov 16, 2014 #1
    I have a BSc of Physics from a different university. I start my MSc of Computational Physics next semester (I've just been taking courses at the new university this semester). I am an above-average programmer with a pretty good background in CS theory. I am very multidisciplinary and have lots of technical hobbies and interests outside of physics (machine learning, computer vision, metaheuristics, robotics (especially AI), game development, GPGPU, HPC, FPGA, robust statistics, compressed sensing, computer architecture, etc). My university has many fields of strength in physics, and of those I think I am most interested in computational statistical mechanics / molecular dynamics and multiscale physics.

    What I want to do long-term is still very nebulous. I am pursuing Comp-Phys because I think it will be easier to switch disciplines later with that background. I know that I like learning and I like being challenged.

    I have heard enough horror stories to say I do not think I want to stay in academia long term. I value financial security too much to go through the postdoc scam: I grew up poor, have no security-net, and a hefty loan-debt. Still, I will probably indulge myself and pursue a PhD, but it might not even be in physics or CS: I've been sitting in on some interesting neuroscience seminars recently, and I'm sure in a few more months I will have another discipline catch my eye. As such, I intend to use my masters to make myself as highly employable as possible, because any PhD would be purely self-indulgent.

    1) Is it important to industry to have my MSc thesis be in something which is (more or less) applicable to industry, like FEM or Monte Carlo? Does it matter at all if it is not exactly what they are doing?

    2) I was not able to find a good resource for expected salaries for someone with a degree in _computational_ physics. What job titles/industries/careers are there for someone with that sort of training? What salary ranges are typical?

    Thanks in advance, everyone!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2014 #2
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