My goal of a Physics R&D Career with only a Bachelor's degree

In summary, Choppy is an electrical engineer who graduated from college in 2016. He has a BS in Physics and Electronics Engineering, and he wants to pursue a Ph.D. in physics but is not sure if he has the necessary skills. He is currently trying to self-study his college textbooks to relearn what he should know at a Bachelors's level. He is interested in a job in a physics lab but is uncertain of his qualifications. He is considering going to Washington State University in Pullman or the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. He is married and has a baby on the way, and he is concerned about the time commitment required to pursue a Ph.D. in physics
  • #36
I was skeptical of the existence of those positions, not whether one is deserving of one of them or not. I personally wouldn't join the military if my goal was to be an R&D physicist, but I suppose it could lead someone to that goal somewhere down the line.

Also, if someone had simply asked if such a position existed, I would think the recruiter would inform them of a potential career path. I am not saying at all that I feel like I deserve to have a position like that. I'm only saying that no one has ever been able to point me to a specific R&D position in the military, so I was kind of forced to conclude that they didn't exist lol.
 
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  • #37
It's USAF designator 61D.
 
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  • #38
Okay, so that's a physicist/nuclear engineer in the Air Force, if I'm not mistaken. But isn't that position just like quality control and technician stuff on the nuclear reactors aboard the aircraft carriers? That may be the only physics relayed job that I did hear about, which is concerned with the nuclear reactors on the aircraft carriers. They might do some R&D. I'm not sure. I had an awful suspicion that nuclear engineering would be similar to the mind numbing job I had as a research assistant, which was to do repeated quality control checks on chemical instruments. Maybe that's what R&D is ...
 
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  • #39
Zap said:
But isn't that position just like quality control and technician stuff on the nuclear reactors aboard the aircraft carriers?

The Air Force doesn't have aircraft carriers.
 
  • #40
Ah, I confused it with nuclear engineer in the Navy.
 
  • #41
Zap said:
Well, I mentioned considering joining the military after my physics degree, so it was for an officer position. I guess I just had horrible recruiters.
No; again, you evidently just kept asking recruiters, who are assigned to recruit enlisted people, instead of investigating the officer track. Looking into the wrong path won't provide you information on the path you want. It's like going to a car dealership and asking to buy a house. The best you might do is have them try to sell you a campervan. Perhaps an extra-nice recruiter would have explained it to you, but he's trying to sell you the path he's assigned to sell.

I don't think any of this is relevant anyway; it doesn't sound like you really want to be in the military*. You are just looking for a civilian-style job with a military rank and pay. The military doesn't work that way. You're always a soldier/airman/sailor first, and the needs of the military come first. Jobs tend to be temporary and rotate.

*Edit: Which is fine. The military isn't for everyone and it's a very bad idea to join if you don't really want to be there.
 
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  • #42
Zap said:
I'm not saying it's impossible to find an R&D type job as an active-duty soldier, but that's something I did try to find and did not.

Most of the military personnel we're known and worked with on physics-related stuff have been officers rather than enlisted.
 
  • #43
I definitely do not want to join the military. I had considered it a few years ago, during graduate school. During this time, I searched for a position I might like in the military, and spoke to a few recruiters, but didn't find anything of interest. I was pretty close to going in as a submarine officer, but I eventually declined to move forward with it. I do not regret that decision at all.
 
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  • #44
russ_watters said:
I don't think any of this is relevant anyway; it doesn't sound like you really want to be in the military*. You are just looking for a civilian-style job with a military rank and pay.
Is military pay supposed to be a positive here?

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...FjAAegQIAxAC&usg=AOvVaw1_ebDeTRbzZB2FjmMyf_97

There are... 176 61Ds in the air force? That sounds like a tough job to get. If you were talking to an officer recruiter you should be glad they didn't pretend you were going to get one.
 
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  • #45
Office_Shredder said:
Is military pay supposed to be a positive here?
Well, it's infinity better than no pay.
If you were talking to an officer recruiter...
As I said to Zap (repeatedly), I'm pretty sure there's no such thing.
 
  • #46
Actually, there are officer recruiters, but they are not what you think when you think "recruiter". They aren't someone who sits in a tiny office trying to get a wide-eyed farm boy to sign a contract so he can "see the world". A lot of what they do is prepare information for the web, brochures, etc. I'm sure the page where I looked up 61D (the Navy's system is much more sensible) was created by or at least vetted by an officer recruiter.

I am actually surprised there are as many as 176 61D's out there. Most of what they do is the D of R&D - answering the question "what would it take to turn this idea into a product we can use?" Because of that, they want people who have done real "Air Force work", and this is part of the purchasing and acquisition community. I met one guy in this community who was working on how one might use additive manufacturing to reduce the number of parts that need to be forward deployed. And, maybe more importantly, how does one write a list of requirements so that the Air Force can tell if a given product meets their needs.
 
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  • #47
Vanadium 50 said:
Sure, but so is working at it part-time with a full-time regular job. There aren't that many data points there.
I also have a data point to support this. A good friend's initial Phd topic just didn't work out, and then they got an opportunity to work as journalist in a UN science journal with the background they had. This job involved moving from US to Europe, which she did. But she never let go of the Phd idea, remained in contact with her department, and got a Phd while working full time abroad well over 20 years later (with half dozen US visits to coordinate with the department, the last being her thesis defense). That actually allowed immediate promotion within the UN hierarchy.
 
  • #48
At my school, the PhD courses were research credit hours. So, you basically had to pay for certain amount of research credit hours, in which you would work per week on your thesis. These hours were always part time, unless you actually wanted to pay for more, which doesn't make sense to do. You then, if lucky, got paid as a research assistant, which was something approximating an actual job. The work you did as a research assistant did not always align with your thesis work. So, the research credit hours took the place of normal class credit hours, which was time allotted toward your thesis, and you were given (if lucky) a part time job as a research assistant, to maybe pay for those research hours, and some basic living expenses (if lucky).
 

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