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Physics Physics field with most academic jobs

  1. Aug 24, 2011 #1
    I know job prospects in academia suck, but what, to the best of your knowledge, is the field in physics with the most promising future as far as jobs is concerned?
    By getting a Ph.D. in what field do you stand a better chance of getting a postdoc position?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2011 #2
    It is not really a postdoc you should be worried about. There are a good number of postdocs - it is the professorships that are seriously lacking (compared to the number of phds with the assumption that a large majority of phds want a professorship).
     
  4. Aug 24, 2011 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    There are two problems with this line of reasoning. One is the attitude "I don't care what I am studying so long as I get a job" is not conducive to success in any scientific field; you need to be studying something you truly care about.

    Second, you don't want to know what field is promising now: you want to know what is promising 7-12 years from now. And nobody can answer that.
     
  5. Aug 24, 2011 #4
    I was well aware about getting responses like your first point. The thing is: if you absolutely love 2 fields in physics, and you could put your heart into both, but you knew you could land an academic job in one but not in the other (or at least less probably), which one would you choose? Of course you can tell me to just choose the one I prefer, but sometimes you just can't decide, you love them both. And it's not like I would decide just based on job prospects, but that definitely goes into the equation... THAT'S ALL.

    And yes, I know nobody knows that second point, and that is why I'm not asking that. But knowing what's going on today might at least give me a hint.
     
  6. Aug 24, 2011 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    No, knowing what is going on today is useless. Perhaps worse than useless. If I say "Subfield X has a shortage", and everyone jumps on it, in 7-12 years, there will be a glut.
     
  7. Aug 24, 2011 #6
    Ok... then tell what's going on today so I can ignore that ;)
     
  8. Aug 25, 2011 #7

    Pythagorean

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    It's not really your field so much as what applications your field has.

    And... there's always the harmonious symbiotic relationship between the two mutually propelling subjects who's pocketbooks have a history of permeating several fields:

    Medical and Military

    You can find lots of scientific fields (tuned to your interests, via Vanadium's suggestion) that have applications within the MM duo. I.e. this doesn't mean "medical physics" or "military physics". Your could study acoustics for detection, optics for communications, transient spatiotemporal dynamics in epilepsy, tissue/optics interaction for biomedical.

    The skies the limit : )
     
  9. Aug 25, 2011 #8
    I would say string theory is promising if they can find one unified theory of everything in universe. As of now though, .....hmm
     
  10. Aug 25, 2011 #9

    f95toli

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    The best "general" answer one can give is that there are more jobs for experimentalists than for theorists (although there are of course also more experimentalists). Moreover, solid-state physics is by far the biggest field in physics so it is safe to assume that there will always be funding for applied SS research (semiconductor physics, surface physics etc).
    Hence, from a "job optimization" point of view you should probably stay away from cosmology etc.

    Your best bet is to learn one (or a few) experimental techniques well, simply because if you know how to e.g. do electrical measurements or microscopy or whatever, these techniques can always be used on "hot new material X" (currently graphene); even if that materials is very different from the material you studied as a PhD student.
    Most researchers that I know have studied many different types of systems throughout their careers; but they tend to study them using the techniques they know best.
    The best example I can think of is a microscopist who started out studying metal surfaces, then moved onto soft materials, to food (yoghurt)and now most recently brain tissue (alzheimer's research). The common denominator is the environmental SEM she uses.
     
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