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Physics masters or phd?

  1. Dec 31, 2015 #1
    I really love physics, but getting a job in this field is not bright at all. Getting a phd will result in post docs and not having a permanent job until I'm 30. Should I just go for a masters and land a job in the industry ? And what job in the industry would be interesting enough for me not to mind being in a field other than physics ? Btw I got accepted into the Rutgers astrophysics undergraduate program which seems like it'll lead no very few job opportunities if any. Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 31, 2015 #2
    You're worrying a lot at this stage. You haven't even decide whether you really love physics or are any good at it. This undergrad will give you a bit more information on that. It might as well turn out you don't like how things are done at all. Or you might absolutely love it. This is information you don't have right now.
    In any case, try to have a plan B ready too. This can consist of many things such as programming or engineering. Something quite realistic and somethign you'll enjoy. Don't focus all the way on physics.
  4. Dec 31, 2015 #3
    Thank you so much that is so true.
  5. Dec 31, 2015 #4
    Just keep worrying to get on the right path but that is so true . Thank you so much.
  6. Dec 31, 2015 #5
    Physics is definitely not a wrong path. It might not be the best path for you, but it's definitely not a very wrong path. You say there are few job opportunities for physics, but that is definitely false. There are plenty, just not in academia. Just make sure you have a plan B ready and you don't only focus on esoteric stuff like planetary atmosphere. There is nothing wrong with doing that, as long as you also develop other useful skills.
  7. Dec 31, 2015 #6
    That's what I recently find out so I was going to double major in physics and computer engineering . Yet I'm not big on computers but wanted a safety net.
  8. Dec 31, 2015 #7
    Isn't there some type of engineering that you would like? Computer engineering is fine, but if you hate it, it's not a really good plan B...
  9. Dec 31, 2015 #8
    Well I have seen some interesting ones like mechanical and aerospace but according to the bureau of labor statistics , both those have little job growth in the best 10 years, it's like 3% job growth .
  10. Dec 31, 2015 #9
    Why does job growth matter? A mechanical engineer will definitely get a job somewhere.
  11. Dec 31, 2015 #10
    Yeah you're right and I know I won't know until college but making cars or anything like that has never been an interest. I love math and numbers and science and want an intellectually stimulating job that I won't hate.
  12. Dec 31, 2015 #11


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    I wrote this more than 10 years ago, and I'm going to cite it here because it bears repeating:


    So here's something I find happening more than I thought it should. I see people (students), coming in here, and worrying about finding jobs and employment in physics after they graduate, and if they should just do engineering or computer science instead. Then when I ask the what they intend to major in, I get replies such as "theoretical physics", "astrophysics", "cosmology", "maybe particle physics", etc.. etc. That is usually when I smack my forehead (you should see how bruised it is now).

    I mean, c'mon people! You worry about finding a job, and then you pick an area of study that traditionally has been quite a challenge in getting a job in that field! What gives?!

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Physics isn't just the LHC, the Big Bang, the String Theory, etc.. etc. Physics is also your iPhone, your MRI, your solid state memory devices, etc... etc.! The largest division in the American Physical Society is the Condensed Matter/Material Science division, areas of physics that are often considered as "applied". If you want to do physics, it shouldn't be "it is either {insert some esoteric physics area here} or bust!", i.e. if you can't do that area, then you'll leave physics and do engineering or CS. It is as if there's nothing in between, and as if other areas of physics don't even deserved to be looked at!

    There is no guarantee that you'll get a job in physics after you graduate. But there are traditionally areas of physics that have a higher "employability" than others, simply because the knowledge and/or the skills you acquired during your training might be useful in many more areas than just within academia. I had mentioned this in another thread regarding accelerator physics and detector physics. There are many ways to get a PhD in physics and still have a fair chance of getting a job. It depends on what you can do after you graduate!

  13. Dec 31, 2015 #12
    Thank you! I know this may be redundant but what exactly would you say is the most employable physics specialty or are you saying most can be "applied" skills.
  14. Dec 31, 2015 #13
    I honestly just want any job in physics or something where I can use my brain and think.
  15. Dec 31, 2015 #14


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    I don't know what "... are you saying most can be "applied" skills...." means.

    Most employable? It depends on the location, the funding scenario, the time of day, the phase of the moon.... I'm not trying to be facetious, but a lot of it depends on what YOU are able to do! Experimental condensed matter physics tend to be, in general, a field that has plenty of applications. I cited accelerator physics and detector/device physics as more examples. Nowhere in any of these posts have I proclaimed as a field being "most employable", and I hope no one thinks that I, or anyone else here, have that knowledge.

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