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Physics and Digital Product Management jobs?

  1. Apr 27, 2015 #1
    Long story short, I currently work in digital product management, I am successful and it is lucrative. However, I never finished my college degree (originally business focused), and at 34 years old I would be starting over at this point. I was widowed a few years ago and am a single mom to a special needs teenager. I've done some soul searching and decided I don't like what I do (bored), and I think I can financially going back to school full time (not working) for about four years. It's good timing as my son doesn't require the care he used to, I'm financially stable, and I really want to learn, it's what I do for fun.

    I have a passion for math and come from a long line of engineers, so physics seems a natural fit for me. However, I don't have the time to aim for a phd, and I won't go academic, I do like money, and intend to make it again.

    So my question is, what can a combo physics BS or MS degree along with a solid history in product management in the digital arena bring in terms of job opportunities?

    My heart pulls at me to go dual major physics/astronomy as that is where my true passion lies, but I think the astronomy part will prove worthless in the industrial world considering I will stop short of a phd.

    What would be an appropriate focus, and what opportunities might that bring?

    General ideas are highly appreciated as I'm still just in the thought process of how to do this, but I also need to know I have a plan before I can start putting logistics into place. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2015 #2


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    One big point to keep in mind in a decision like that is that pursuing an academic degree like physics is going to give you an education in physics, but it's not necessarily goign to give you career-specific skills or qualifications. Those who finish with a bachelors degree in physics often have to figure out how to apply that to the non-academic world. It can be done (and often is), but it's a hurdle.

    You might want to think about what your higher priority is at this point - do you want an education in physics/astronomy, or are you retraining simply to get into a different professional field? If it's the latter you might want to focus on one of the engineering disciplines.

    Another option, particularly if you are leaning toward the former, is to simply start looking for a different, more exciting job now. Once you're secure with that, you can take whatever you want through night school classes and focus on learning the material you really want to learn, and eventually that could lead somewhere exciting.
  4. Apr 28, 2015 #3
    Thanks for the reply choppy. I think I am currently stuck in deciding what is more important, education vs a new field - I'd like the best of both worlds. I have looked at changing up my current job, but a lack of completed degree overall makes that search limited. When I entered my current field fifteen years ago I dropped out of school because my skill set was so desired (and I was paid highly for them). It's a decision I have come to regret, as the digital services industry has become saturated with skilled (and highly educated) candidates. So now I'm being passed over at major companies for not meeting education requirements, which is disheartening because when I last switched jobs seven years ago several of those big companies made offers to me. But I went with a start up instead, which is just successful enough to make my day to day almost unbearably boring, but with a good paycheck and stability. So just getting a degree in any focus will aid my career as I am basically stalled at this point.

    It's more about what do I want to focus on in-school. My obvious choice is to go business admin, but four years of that doesn't appeal to me at all. Which is where the desire for something in the field of physics comes into play, I will enjoy these classes. But, will I be able to apply that education to my current industry or bring my existing skills into a new field?

    I'm thinking that data science is a real option, I love the numbers and my experience in digital products would be a good background, but is only a bs enough to break into that field? How should I align my courses if I knew this was the route I wanted to go?

    Or, on the other end of the spectrum, is there a demand for astro jobs in the private sector that really look for a solid business and astronomy background combo? Or am I going to waste my time competing with phd's trying to get any decent position in the industrial astrophysics field?
  5. Apr 28, 2015 #4


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    Is there such a thing as an industrial astrophysics field? There are fields whose requirements overlap somewhat with the skillsets of astrophysicists (e.g. quantitative finance and some kinds of mathematical programming) but I'm not sure there is a real market for astrophysicists in industry, especially at the BS level.

    Have you thought about obtaining the education credentials you need to move up in your current field and keep physics as a hobby? Digital services is a field with a real need for grown ups to help manage things. I think with your extensive experience you could bring a lot to the table once you get that piece of paper the employers seem so fixated on.

    Perhaps you could either go in a more technical direction and get an online BS in CS/data science or if you're more interested in the business perhaps a business degree makes sense.

    Another change of direction (if they idea of staying in your industry makes you want to scream) could be engineering. You'll take a lot of math and physics which could be fun for you and then come out in a few years (I don't know how many transferable credits (if any) you still have) with a useful degree.

    A bit of unsolicited advice, whatever route you go. Consider strongly starting at a community college. At least in California they have agreements with the University of California that make it relatively easy to travel and you'll save a TON of money getting your lower division requirements out of the way. Maybe it is similar in your location. With your experience and passion you will completely crush the competition at college provided you don't make the common mistake of starting at too high a level in math/physics.

    Best of luck to you! I hope you find something meaningful.
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