1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics major jobs

  1. Jan 26, 2016 #1
    Hello,
    So i wanted to ask , am i to die of hunger if i graduate with a physics degree ?
    Because asides from the USA i don't think there's that much work for physicists .
    Also , what are the jobs differences between an undergraduate , a master's holder and a phd holder in physics ?
    Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2016 #2
    Where do you live? Do people often die of hunger there?

    You are being dramatic. That is not going to help you get advice. With a physics degree you can still do anything somebody without a degree does, right? Generally, there is not much work as a physicist, but there is other work that may or may not be related to your degree.
     
  4. Jan 26, 2016 #3
    No it was nothing but a dramatisation. I am sorry. But still am i going to live properly with a good salary for example? I love physics but this thing bugs me.
     
  5. Jan 26, 2016 #4

    Choppy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    You might want to check out some of the AIP Statistics for some data relevant to your question.

    It's important to keep in mnd that in pursuing a physics degree, what you're doing is getting an education in physics. This is not the same as job training. What that means is that when you graduate with a physics degree, you'll have the option of going on into graduate studies or you'll have to figure out how to earn a living with the education that you have. With an undergraduate degree it is very likely that you won't end up doing physics for a living.

    The good news is that the data seem to indicate that the majority of people who obtain physics degrees do quite well - earning starting salaries that are in the middle of the pack among the distribution of starting salaries in the engineering disciplines, having low unemployment rates, reporting relatively high job satisfaction, etc.
     
  6. Jan 26, 2016 #5
    OP's profile indicates that he's from Lebanon, in which case I'm not convinced the American Institute of Physics is particularly relevant in their situation, unless they decide to move to the U.S. (or a country that provides similar opportunities for its Ph.Ds, like western Europe, Canada, etc.)
     
  7. Jan 26, 2016 #6
    So what i understand is that i have to figure out a way of making a living. But what about a master's in physics for example, where could that get me ? And keep in mind that i would prefer theoretical physics like cosmology astronomy ...
     
  8. Jan 26, 2016 #7
    Yeah that is my problem. But anyways it's impossible for me to stay here because in Lebanon there is nothing you can do with a physics degree other than teaching and teachers are very poorly treated in here. Do you have any idea about moving to the USA or Canada for exemple ? I don't know how to do it and what do i need to get there.
     
  9. Jan 26, 2016 #8

    Choppy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    The thing with making the jump out of academia and into the business world is that you need to be able to do something that someone else needs done. If you study cosmology at a master's level, that's great, but not too many people have a need to know the rate of inflation of the universe within their business model. On the other hand though, some people will need MSc level physicists to help them develop better techniques to explore the earth for oil, to help them fabricate better microchips or solar cells, or to figure out how to put the right amount radiation into a patient's tumour to kill it but not the patient. I think some people are able to successfully translate skills they learn in theoretical physics into financial modeling, so that may be an option too.
     
  10. Jan 28, 2016 #9

    radium

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Just to give you an idea, my academic advisor's first student (they are theorists) to leave physics started a hedge fund and is now incredibly wealthy. A post doc I know (also a theorist) just went to work as a software engineer at a startup in SF. A grad student (also a theorist) said it would be possible for him to consult for tech companies as a post doc to make extra money. So these people all worked (or are working) in pretty exotic areas of theory but still got great jobs outside of academia. As long as you have some basic programming/Matlab skills you can get a lot of these jobs.
     
  11. Jan 28, 2016 #10
    I did a PhD in (applied) physics, and no physics student I know from that period is starving or even unemployed. They all have good jobs at banks, research institutes, engineering and consultancy companies, etc.
    You have to realize that the odds of getting a job in exactly the field you graduated in are quite slim. It is all the other stuff you know that will actually open the job-market for you: know some programming languages, CAD/FEM/CFD/statistical software, experience with certain measurement or tooling equipment, general knowledge on mechanics/physics, etc.

    Well, I guess it's more or less the same as what radium said.
     
  12. Feb 7, 2016 #11
    Hello,

    If you want to be technically correct, ie when we talk about matching college education to job profiles..then most physics bachelor students go into software/programming, at bachelor level..that is the one of the few only applied aspect of many physics degrees. My relative at another university (top uni in germany) said that most physics bachelor students go into programming.

    Apart from that you can do many of the general jobs. When someone talks about finance/hedge/consulting, well those don't really care too much about your degree as long as its of a good university and grades are higher than average for a bachelor student, not PhD. I know of one person who studied maths nd physics to master and they work in telecom.

    Job prospects are there but it can be extremely tough sometimes, unlike other applied science degrees it is much more risky. If you want to make a decent living there are far better degrees that are more relevant to industries. my relative has done an MBA after physics and now works in marketing.

    PS: I was accepted to study a bachelor in physics, but because of my poor maths skills and just generally shaky prospects right out of bachelors in the country, I did not enroll. So my advice comes from some experience and research at least.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook