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Physics Non-Academic employment after getting a PhD in Astrophysics?

  1. Dec 10, 2009 #1

    I'm a graduate student, one semester in to a physics PhD. I'm still doing the core courses and haven't started the specialized courses yet, but I started wanting to become an astronomer. I was aware of the lack of jobs, and I wanted to do computational astronomy in particular, in the hope that I could write software or something if I fail to find a job in Astro. But it seems like I might have to settle for observational astronomy, considering the competition I'm up against.

    What sort of non-academic jobs could I hope to get in to after getting a PhD in Astrophysics? Both Astronomy related and not.

    How does this compare with non-academic jobs in condensed matter?

    Any advice?

    It's not too late for me to change in to condensed matter. But I like astronomy much more.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 11, 2009 #2
    Don't worry about the lack of jobs. As long as you give up any hope of being a tenure-track professor at a research university, you won't have any problem of finding a job.

    You can go into investment banking like I did. There are lots and lots of things in the world that involve numerical modeling of parabolic partial differential equations.

    I think it's pretty much the same. Don't make a decision on what field of physics to go into based on career prospects unless it's a tiebreaker between fields that you feel equally passionate about. The problem with doing that is that getting a Ph.D. is a totally brutal process, and unless you are totally in love with what you are studying, you probably will not make it to the end.
  4. Dec 11, 2009 #3


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    To this I would add that "hot" fields can change over the period of time it takes to earn a PhD, so even if you start out in one direction because the job market is hot, that may not be the case when you graduate.
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