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Physics in the military?

  1. Jun 20, 2007 #1
    Are there many jobs for physics working for the military?

    What kind of work would you be doing?

    How is the pay compared to working in academia or in industry?

    How does it look on your CV later when applying to academia or industry?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2007 #2
    My father is also x-military, and he is the one who suggested it to me.
    There are many people in the military who will never see front lines. My dad was a heavy duty mechanic, the worst he had to do was move to various places in canada to work.

    Surely the military employs physicists for something other than to be a bullet sponge?
  4. Jun 20, 2007 #3
    math_owen said you might become a bullet sponge, not that you will become one. He only stated with much conviction that you will be treated like one (bullet-sponge).
  5. Jun 20, 2007 #4


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    The US military has several research laboratories. The Naval Research Lab and the Air Force Research Lab are two of the ones that I am very familiar with. The NRL, for example, employs many physicists working in areas ranging from material science/condensed matter to particle accelerators. Many of these are non-classified, and if you do a search in physics journals such as PRL, you'll see many authors affiliated to these labs.

    They also commonly advertise in Physics Today when there are job openings in these labs.

    So yes, there are many physicists employed within the military.

    Last edited: Jun 20, 2007
  6. Jun 20, 2007 #5


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    It also depends on what you mean by the military.
    From a UK perspective most of the R+D is done either by contracting companies or civillian resaerch establishments.
    The Atomic Weapons Establishment (equivalent to Los Alamos) is civilian, the old Royal Signals and Radar establishment has actualised been privatised as Quinetiq, Royal ordanance is also civilian. The security guards are an odd half-way between police and military but basically only the customers are in uniform.
    As to actually in uniform the Royal Engineers has a few physicists - a friend of mine spent all his time in Brussels managing pipelines.

    So even doing classified research I would expect the research labs to have more civilian R+D staff than in-uniform.
  7. Jul 3, 2007 #6
    In the mil. the only phycisists are engineers really.

    You could be a civvie contractor and do some research work but that will also be the engineeringy type stuff.

    Also, at least the Royal Navy if not other mil. organisations have Training Officers specialising in sciences or mathematics.
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