# Physics a worthless degree?

• Physics
As usual, the going attitude is that you should be happy to sacrifice yourself for the privilege of doing physics.

- Pretend you have no other life priorities, like a family, or the desire to travel. A real life interferes with physics.

- Money isn't everything. Especially when there is little of it in your field. Moreover, money disrupts the serfdom culture of graduate school, which takes all your time, and all your labor for barely enough to live in a mexican-style overcrowded apartment feeding off of yesterday's ramen noodles.

Give me a f*cking break. No wonder all physics faculty roam around like a disembodied bunch. No wonder you can't motivate more americans to study physics. It's not that americans are too stupid, or too lazy...

it's just that we don't do exploitation. Tit for tat is how it goes. I'll be happy to produce, so long as you're happy to pay.

im from lebanon and i really want to become an engineer with a good degree , and the only way for this to happen is going to australllia , where i was born but you know family here is vey tight , thats one of the main reasons i couldnt go there earlier , but i really want to , so i dont know what's life going to offer me? i just want to know if i have a pure physics bachelor , may i become a mechanical engineer ? or its all over for me , and i have to stick to the fack that im going to be become a professor in physics? please be honest

chiro
im from lebanon and i really want to become an engineer with a good degree , and the only way for this to happen is going to australllia , where i was born but you know family here is vey tight , thats one of the main reasons i couldnt go there earlier , but i really want to , so i dont know what's life going to offer me? i just want to know if i have a pure physics bachelor , may i become a mechanical engineer ? or its all over for me , and i have to stick to the fack that im going to be become a professor in physics? please be honest

I live in Australia, and to get an accredited degree in engineering you complete four years at an accredited university and do 12 weeks of work experience at recognized institution.

Most physics (research) pathways require a standard Bachelor of Science (Physics) degree plus a good honors degree (coursework + mini thesis) before you get accepted into a PhD program.

Many Australian universities have course outlines for each subject on their respective websites, so you might want to check that out.

As usual, the going attitude is that you should be happy to sacrifice yourself for the privilege of doing physics.

I think the people expressing that opinion are being very honest. Doing what you like for a living is a privilege, people say it doesn't feel like a job. Most people have to haul through manual labor or other unpleasant jobs to make a living.

You have a very wrong idea if you think merely having the degree entitles you to not only a well-paying job, but a cool job as well.

I'm sure professional musicians and artists (the ones that make enough money to live) are in a similar if not worse predicament.

I live in Australia, and to get an accredited degree in engineering you complete four years at an accredited university and do 12 weeks of work experience at recognized institution.

Most physics (research) pathways require a standard Bachelor of Science (Physics) degree plus a good honors degree (coursework + mini thesis) before you get accepted into a PhD program.

Many Australian universities have course outlines for each subject on their respective websites, so you might want to check that out.

what if i finish the three years in physics and go to australlia and switch to engineering by going to sydney university , and have a master in professional engineer ???

what i really want to know is that , a pure physics bachelor degree can be the way to become an engineer?? of course with extra courses??

Depends on the type of engineer. If you are interested in electrical engineering or software engineering, then you just find someone that is willing to hiring you and put engineer in your business card.

The usefulness of a professional engineering qualification depends on the field of engineering. In civil engineering, it's pretty much required, whereas in electrical and software engineering, it's irrelevant.

I think, in general, the Physics dept is undergoing an identity crisis.

Physics departments have been in crisis since the late 1960's.

see http://web.mit.edu/dikaiser/www/CWB.html

Physics is not the type of degree that you just get the degree and then turn it into money. You do need to think very creatively about what you can do with your degree, but it can work out.

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I think, in general, the Physics dept is undergoing an identity crisis. Looking at the research programmes at my school (which really has its rep built on engineering), I find either crackpottish or unremarkable ventures.
Are you talking about Physics in general, or just research being done at your school? In either case, assuming you're an undergrad that hasn't made any significant breakthroughs to advance the knowledge of humanity and hence not knowing how hard it is to do so, what makes you qualified to say that the ventures undertaken are unremarkable or crakcpottish?

The woods are full of people with physics degrees who never could find work even remotely related to even engineering.

On the other hand if it's interesting work, and they pay \$, I don't really care much what it involves.

As usual, the going attitude is that you should be happy to sacrifice yourself for the privilege of doing physics.

If you don't like it, then don't do it.

I don't think that's the attitude. One reason I'm an interesting case study is that things turned out ****really**** well for me.

I got my astrophysics Ph.D., ended up with a nice job.

One thing that is important is attitude. The physics degree is not a meal ticket. You aren't going to be able to take the degree and then exchange it directly for money. You have to be creative and think about what you can do with it. But that's the sort of thing that I like to do.

- Money isn't everything. Especially when there is little of it in your field. Moreover, money disrupts the serfdom culture of graduate school, which takes all your time, and all your labor for barely enough to live in a mexican-style overcrowded apartment feeding off of yesterday's ramen noodles.

But there is life after graduate school.......

Give me a f*cking break. No wonder all physics faculty roam around like a disembodied bunch. No wonder you can't motivate more americans to study physics. It's not that americans are too stupid, or too lazy...

But it is going to cause problems with the long term US economy. One problem is that in order to make physics attractive you have to put money into physics, and that involves government spending, and that involves basically rethinking the way that the US economy or any economy is structured.

it's just that we don't do exploitation. Tit for tat is how it goes. I'll be happy to produce, so long as you're happy to pay.

It's a "we" not a "you."

If not physics then what? (Seriously). One thing about physics is that you get to think deeply about how the world works, and that sometimes keeps you out of problems.

chiro
what if i finish the three years in physics and go to australlia and switch to engineering by going to sydney university , and have a master in professional engineer ???

Engineering programs here don't give much credit. You will probably get at the most credit for introductory maths, physics, chemistry and nothing else.

The engineering programs are more or less specialized and have demanding labs that train very specific skills.

If you want to become an engineer in Australia, get into any accredited engineering course. If you have an interest in physics, then do a double degree or self-study physics in your own time.

One thing I should point out is there is two kinds of engineering programs in Australia. The first is the conventional four year degree. In four years you take all the maths, physics, chemistry, and engineering specific projects in four years and do an internship for 12 weeks to get an accredited degree (in Australia).

The other kind takes five years. You do a three year degree in a science type degree and if you are eligible, you do a two year Masters course which at the end of the Masters, gets you the same accreditation that the four year course does.

If you just want to become an engineer I would do the four year course simply because it takes less time, less money, and has a stronger focus on engineering.

If you want more information about the five year program look at the University of Melbourne website. For any of the four year programs some include ANU, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, and many other universities.

Engineering programs here don't give much credit. You will probably get at the most credit for introductory maths, physics, chemistry and nothing else.

The engineering programs are more or less specialized and have demanding labs that train very specific skills.

If you want to become an engineer in Australia, get into any accredited engineering course. If you have an interest in physics, then do a double degree or self-study physics in your own time.

One thing I should point out is there is two kinds of engineering programs in Australia. The first is the conventional four year degree. In four years you take all the maths, physics, chemistry, and engineering specific projects in four years and do an internship for 12 weeks to get an accredited degree (in Australia).

The other kind takes five years. You do a three year degree in a science type degree and if you are eligible, you do a two year Masters course which at the end of the Masters, gets you the same accreditation that the four year course does.

If you just want to become an engineer I would do the four year course simply because it takes less time, less money, and has a stronger focus on engineering.

If you want more information about the five year program look at the University of Melbourne website. For any of the four year programs some include ANU, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, and many other universities.

im talking about doing a master in professional engineer in university of sydney , and ive read if i do physics then i do three years master in professional engineer , ill have a master degree in professional engineer
but i have 3 questions :
1) which type of engineer is best these days and why??
2) how can i make sure that my degree in the lebanese university (government) can be accepted in australlia?
3) if i did pure physics , may i still become an engineer in telecommunication or its better to do in mechanical engineer which is also gd?

So 1 out of 10 physics PhDs acquire a professorship, which entails research. But how many physics PhDs out of 10, including the 1 the gets the professorship, actually end up with a job in their field? At research institutes, national labs, research positions at universities, etc... and not just some programming/IT/engineering/wall street job not really pertaining to physics research?

How many? Zero, thats how many. The Chemistry Dept took over most of the jobs. Even for Electron Microscopy, they hire EE's or EP's.
OK, if your answer is zero, then it seems you're suggesting not even the professor gets a job in Physics, which is odd to say the least.
In fact, the so-called National labs really don't hire nationals at all. In the National Lab in my back yard, they are hiring based on countries expertise...eg. China for Chemistry, Russia for mathematical modeling, etc. Every university in the host country is discredited.
I don't think you get the point of a national lab.

Yet they have the gall to expect tuition payment for undergraduate Physics. It doesn't even serve the purpose of a filter outside of the field as corporations couldn't care less.

The concept of Physics serving as a filter reminds me of a joke that circulated in my grad school:

A graduate TA is teaching Physics to a bunch of pre-med students. In the middle, a student raises his hand:

"And why do we need to know all this?"

Without missing a beat, the TA replies: "Physics saves lives."

"Oh, yeah? How does Physics save lives?"

"It does not let idiots into medical school."

not just some programming/IT/engineering/wall street job not really pertaining to physics research?

Ummmm..... Wall Street, engineering, and software companies hire physics Ph.D.'s because the problems that they have pertain to physics research.

What is physics research? My definition is using math to explain the world. It turns out that my career has basically revolved around researching ways to solve one equation, that finds itself all over the place.

d_t phi = del^2 phi

In case you are interested in what that is.

"And why do we need to know all this?"

You don't.

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Yet they have the gall to expect tuition payment for undergraduate Physics.

Personally, I don't think they should. I was able to get my physics degree through heavy government subsidized loans and grants. The reason for this is that at some people in the late-1950's, someone figured it would be a bad thing if all of the physicists were Russian, and no one in the US could build bombs that worked. Billions of dollars followed.

In fact, the so-called National labs really don't hire nationals at all. In the National Lab in my back yard, they are hiring based on countries expertise...eg. China for Chemistry, Russia for mathematical modeling, etc. Every university in the host country is discredited.

This can't be true (if you're US). A US citizenship is required to work at National Laboratories. I know a Russian professor at my school who can't work at a National Laboratory because he is not a US citizen.

How do you know the hiring practices of that lab? Do you work in their HR department?

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A US citizenship is required to work at National Laboratories.

Not true. It may be required to work in certain parts of National Labs, such as X division at LANL. There are hundreds, if not thousands of counter-examples.

I figured I might as well post here rather than create a new thread.

I don't particularly think that my degree will be "worthless" - I love physics and if I did my degree again I would still do a lot of it (though not as much as I did this time around... just for the sake of learning something else).

I go to the University of Toronto and I do fairly well in my classes, but nowhere near the people at the very top (I'm probably in the 85th~90th percentile or so). I'm about to enter my last year in the program and I'm probably going to apply for Masters programs just to top off my education because it's interesting (it's also pretty much free, unless you take opportunity cost into account >_>).

I'm sure I could do reasonably well in life if I knew what to do, but the problem is - I don't. I know what I want, but I'm not sure how to get there.

One thing I want is a suitable amount of money. I'd say a 50k+ starting salary out of undergrad would make me happy...

Research is interesting at times but most of the time it is quite grueling (as I've learned over my past two summers or so). It also has fairly low pay and I'm not the most motivated student out there, so going towards PhD/academia would be disastrous for me.

Management consulting sounds particularly interesting. The high workload and hours doesn't seem too appealing but I'm still young and I'd love to challenge myself and travel a lot. However, it's quite hard to get a job in this field especially if you're aiming for the more prestigious firms like MBB so I shouldn't bet all my hopes on this.

Teaching high school is also an option I have though I'm not sure how much opportunity there is for advancement. However, I wouldn't mind going down this path after I've settled down and such with a family.

The thing is, what else is out there? Are there any other high-paying jobs that I could potentially go to upon completing my undergrad/master's studies? I'm willing to put effort into learning more about computers if need be...

The concept of Physics serving as a filter reminds me of a joke that circulated in my grad school:

A graduate TA is teaching Physics to a bunch of pre-med students. In the middle, a student raises his hand:

"And why do we need to know all this?"

Without missing a beat, the TA replies: "Physics saves lives."

"Oh, yeah? How does Physics save lives?"

"It does not let idiots into medical school."

That's great I'm going to have to use that one haha.

so let me get this straight , having a physics degree will be good only for teaching in high school ?? thats hard to accept

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