Not to sound too harsh but if you are getting ready to spend 5-8 years of your life doing something (PhD), it is incumbent upon you to find out what lies at the end of it.Throughout my undergrad and phd, I was bombarded with the attitude the physics is a versatile degree, especially compared to alternatives. But it really isn't (see twofish's statements about how jobs for physicists are only located a few cities around the world).
I think twofish may have been referring to finance jobs for physicists. The reason those jobs are concentrated in a few cities is because finance jobs in general are concentrated in those cities (NY, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo...maybe Zurich, possibly Dubai)
So you just made the point that physics is versatile enough to get you jobs that engineers and geophysicists do.If you look at those jobs, most of the non-academic ones require a "PhD in physics, engineering, geoscience, etc. or related field," so they don't care what your PhD is in. I've applied to several of those types of jobs and gotten nowhere. (and yes I've done the resume-tailoring stuff, etc.) The jobs that you actually see for physicists are ones that require very specific skills that don't seem to be very common in academia, at least not as far as I am aware of. I see medical physics and optics come up a lot, and I've never even met anyone in those fields. I see a handful of experimental condensed matter techniques are listed that I don't think get done by physicists nearly as much as engineers.
If you're looking for "physics only" jobs, I would agree with you.
Nothing to say to that. If the jobs are where you are, then you either have to go where the jobs are or change the kind of jobs you are going after.Also, the numbers change quite a bit if you restrict the location you search in. If I search for "physics" in sacramento, ca (where I live) I get 51 jobs, if I search for "engineering" I get 1800 jobs. I never could have predicted it when I was younger, but now I find the main thing I really care about with whatever job I get is where I live, much more so than what I actually end up doing. In that respect, a physics degree turned out to be an extremely bad choice for me.
Maybe you are looking in a too narrow area centered on your PhD research. If what you did was just research, and what the employers are looking for is practical experience in specific areas, you may not be a good fit. But if you expand your search, you may have a better chance. As ParticleGrl said in an earlier post, you may not know as much electrical engineering as an EE, but you probably know more mechanical engineering than an EE and more electrical engineering than an ME.I've interviewed for a couple of industry jobs that were actually fairly closely related to my PhD research (condensed matter theory). What I found was that I was mostly speaking with people with engineering backgrounds and they were less than impressed with the rather academic and non-practical nature of my research. I got the feeling that they really preferred engineers.
I interviewed with one large company for three different jobs, and the one I got an offer for was a software position. I didn't get an offer for the other two jobs that were closely related to what I learned in my PhD research.
Web development is the absolute most basic programming you can do in industry. There are far, far more interesting and challenging programming jobs out there. I wouldn't use that as a representative sample. As for the sitting down, most white collar jobs involve you sitting down all day in front of a computer, and that includes engineering.I worked as a contractor for about a year, mostly doing web development but with a small variety of other projects mixed in. My real problem with software (aside from just not liking it very much) is I've developed back problems that are exacerbated by sitting at the computer all day, especially if I'm programming.
Your feeling is wrong but I can't convince you of that since you are having a hard time finding something now. But everyone is having a hard time now. I have a friend, a damn good engineer with about 12 years' experience, who lost his job when his company went under. It took him almost a year to find another job. Everyone is suffering now because the economy is so lousy.Well I'm not really, not any more. For a while I was because I desperately wanted to hold onto the notion that getting my PhD wasn't a complete waste. And I believed, or at least rationalized, that that sort of thing would be a good stepping stone out of academia. I could get into a big company, work doing physics for a while, if I still decided I hated it I would have a much easier time moving around within the company or finding another job.
Anyway, I don't get the feeling that those skills are highly valued. Or that they are, but employers would prefer they come from people with degrees in more applied fields, because perhaps they have a prejudice against me that I'm too academic. The idea that physicists have these strong analytical skills that engineers or applied mathematicians or statisticians don't is an idea that employers don't seem to have.
I never said that physicists have skills that mathematicians, statisticians or engineers don't. The point I am trying to make is that a physics degree is competitive with those fields.