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Physics Physics and Astronomy

  1. Aug 29, 2010 #1
    I am a current undergrad double majoring in physics and astronomy (physics B.A. and astronomy B.S.) and am on an astronomy research team as well. I have a passion for astrophysics (as you can tell my college does not offer an astrophysics major), but my parents want me to go to med school, which is still possible, as I am on track for that as well. They tell me there simply isn't a great job market for those majors. Is this true? What job opportunities are there for astronomy and physics majors? Am I really beter off going to med school? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2010 #2
    Welcome to the forums.

    Do you know the 'difference' between astronomy and astrophysics? :smile: There is one, but many don't bother making any sort of distinction any more.

    ..Do you want to go to med school? There isn't a worse reason to do it than 'because someone else wants me to'. It's your life and your career - sure, make sure that you're making informed decisions and do your research but taking a route you're simply not interested in, particularly with something like medicine, is a recipe for disaster.

    No, not in the slightest. Physics (and so astronomy) majors are extremely employable. The good thing about physics is that you'll touch a bit of many different fields. An undergraduate physicist knows a little bit about a lot of things - you'll learn mechanical, electrical, materials subjects and do things like programming, numerical analysis, modelling. The skillset you come out with from a degree like that is excellent. This means that physics graduates are in demand in lots of different industries. For instance, a physics (and astronomy) major can usually apply to all of the same entry level jobs as engineering graduates, on top of the physics focussed entry jobs. Then there are things like finance where physics graduates are sought-after. That said, the job market is a funny thing - if you're looking for something extremely specific then clearly you'll have a hard time getting it. But if you're looking for a job, then physics will give you many options in lots of different areas.

    That's a question you need to ask yourself. Why would you go to med school? If the question is "if I continue with physics and astronomy, will I find myself unemployable for the rest of my life?" then no, you won't. If you have a physics degree, then you'll find that if you want a job, you can get one.

    Also, read this thread:
  4. Aug 30, 2010 #3
    I ended up working for an investment bank on Wall Street. It turns out that the equations that describe the diffusion of radiation in a star happen to be exactly the same equations that you use to model stock prices.

    The other good thing about getting a physics Ph.D. is that you leave graduate school with zero debt. This means that unlike med school, where you have to end up being a doctor in order to pay off your loans, you have a lot more flexibility as to what you want to do with your physics degree.
  5. Sep 9, 2010 #4
    How do you leave graduate school with zero debt? I just started out in undergraduate school so I am a long ways off. I plan to continue through to a Master's and possible a Ph.D in Physics.
  6. Sep 9, 2010 #5


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    Follow your passion is always good advice IMHO.

    In my experience parents' ideas about longterm job prospects and what is suitable for their son/daughter are always wrong. For medicine you need real hard commitment for a lifetime and will not get through the course and early years without it although the financial rewards are finally better so is question of values.

    There are these transferable general skills given by training in physics/astrophysics. Though presumably the banking sector is not going to be all what it was.

    I am told that modern astronomical observations techniques have given a glut of data and there are not enough people to analyse and make sense of it, so a certain opportunity is there, at least for a Ph. D. for interesting work, though career in the science afterwards is more problematic.
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