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Job Skills Non-desk jobs - Career guidance

  1. Apr 14, 2016 #1
    Hi there

    My question in short is:
    "What would be the best field to move into if I'm looking for non-desk physics/engineering jobs"

    Let me elaborate a bit on this. I have a BA degree in fine art, some projects can be seen here http://frimannkjerulf.tumblr.com/ I also have BS degree in physics which I completed 2 years ago. There isn't much going on in the academic world here in Iceland physics wise, so regarding a Masters Program I've been looking into fields like Computational Engineering or Mechanical Engineering, or possibly even Optical Engineering.

    But the problem is that over the years I've managed to build up a chronic shoulder- and neck-tension problems, which makes working at a desk for prolonged times quite demanding on my wellbeing. I've spent thousands of dollars on physiotherapists and chiropractors. Tried to do as much exercise as possible alongside my desk-jobs, to no avail. So it seems that I need to keep desk work to a minimum. Not avoid it completely maybe but something like 50/50 of desk work and some leg work would be nice.

    The fields I mentioned (Mechanical-, Computational or Optical-engingeering) would mostly lead to desk jobs, at least from what I've gathered from the job market here in Iceland.

    So I'm wondering if there is some field I could move into, where I can use my current knowledge in physics and math, that doesn't necessarily have a desk as a permanent end result?

    I would say that Optical engineering is most likely to fulfill this requirement, but I'm only guessing. Anyone have some experience regarding that?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2016 #2


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    You are only guessing. Mechanical is the most likely to lead to field assignments. The other two will almost certainly lead to desk work. Mechanical can lead to field installations of products where you will travel and install equipment (in a large enough organization) or do field QC. If it is a smaller Mech firm, you might very well be designing AND then installing (and get the best of ALL worlds! :woot::H). Of course all jobs are different and the other two routes could lead to field service too. But I suspect your best bet for greatest chance of verity is Mech Eng.
  4. Apr 14, 2016 #3


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    Have you tried a standing desk? I use one due to chronic lower back problems from an injury and the fact that it's a hassle standing up with an prosthetic leg. I figure if you're ok with walking around outside, you would probably be ok standing inside at a desk.
  5. Apr 17, 2016 #4
    Actually forgot to mention that, I have a standing desk. It helps, but still not enough. Even though I'm standing it's not enough movement involved I guess, so I always lock up and get tense even when at a standing desk.
  6. Apr 17, 2016 #5
    This is a good point. I've given mechanical engineering a though before. But I was told that it's usually quite difficult to get a job in that field. Not sure if this is true, anyone have some thoughts on this?
  7. Apr 18, 2016 #6
    I suppose it depends on what your point of comparison is, but in general MechE is probably one of the easiest fields to get a job in, provided you have good internship experience and are willing to move to where the work is. And for MechE, that can be pretty much everywhere.
  8. Apr 18, 2016 #7
    Do note that engineering, especially field engineering work may involve significant travel. This means you're sitting again, except that the sitting may be driving a car, or worse, confinement in an airline seat.

    Choose with care...
  9. Apr 19, 2016 #8


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    To the OP:

    I have read a number of articles about the best types of jobs for those with chronic back, shoulder, or neck pain, including the following:


    From what I've found, it is not about having a standing desk or what not that matters, so much as not being in a fixed position or carrying on too many repetitive movements for too many hours throughout the day that makes the difference.

    According to the article linked above , the 3 best jobs for those with chronic back pain are the following:

    (1) Administrative assistant (given the low pay of this position, this is something you are obviously not thinking of)

    (2) Self-employment

    (3) Software developer (might seem surprising for you, but many larger companies have invested in adjustable desks, comfortable furniture for their employees, as well as allowing flexible schedules which would allow you to move around, etc.)

    I would suspect that some engineering jobs would allow you similar accommodation as well.

    Disclaimer: Please note that the article above is not, as far as I can tell, based on scientific publications, so the conclusions they reach may be at best tentative, so take it for what it's worth.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
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