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Physics PhD in experimental physics

  1. Feb 19, 2013 #1

    It is not seldom to hear about a physicist who did his/her PhD in theoretical high-energy physics/astro-physics/solid state, who then move on to a rather quantitative position in the industry, e.g. in a bank. I hear the same about people that did an experimental PhD, where statistics and programming were used extensively (experimental high-energy physics).

    But what about the "soft" topics, such as experimental atomic physics, quantum optics and such. Can they also move on to a quantitative position in the banking industry, or is it more common for them to "settle" with industrial experimental work? Do people know of any statistics for this, or have any experience/opinions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2013 #2
    If you want to work in a bank take accounting and statistics classes if you want to be a physicist then take physics classes. sorry I don't have any stats for this
  4. Feb 20, 2013 #3


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    He was asking about working as a quant. It is extremely unlikely that you would be able to find a job as a quant if you study accounting, and statistics is probably not ideal either. The "traditional" background for a quant would be a PhD in physics or maths.

    To answer the OP. I don't know for sure, but I am under the impression that the reason high-energy/astro PhDs can find jobs as quants is that many of them spend a LOT of time programming and analyzing data. After all, the actual experiments (observation, time at an accelerator etc) might only take up a few days per year and the rest of the time is spent sorting through vast amounts of data.

    A PhD in say quantum optics, experimental solid-state etc. is very different and you would spend a lot more time doing actual experiments (and a lot of hands-on work), and you might not even have to do any advanced data analysis. Hence, you are less likely to pick up skills relevant to being a quant. I know of a few people who have moved from solid-state to finance, but that was several years ago when the job market for quants was much better than it is now.
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