# Physics-my mom doesn't want me to major in it

1. Jul 24, 2005

### Knavish

Physics--my mom doesn't want me to major in it

Arr. No "follow your dreams" bull****. I've given it, and I don't want it.

Here's the story in short: My mom ended up majoring in a "useless" degree, had a hard time finding a job, and doesn't want the same thing to happen to me. So she is hinting that I should major in something practical and job-friendly--something like engineering. Ideally, however, I would like to double major in physics and philosophy for undergrad, and then get a PhD in physics (and, if it is necessary to say, I'm quite confident I can make it into a high-caliber school for this). Ideally, too, I wouldn't graduate with a debt to pay and wouldn't care about money. But this isn't the case, and these things will happen, and I don't know what to do. Is it possible to major in engineering for undergrad and then jump into a physics PhD program? I don't know.. What should I do? .. blah

Last edited: Jul 24, 2005
2. Jul 25, 2005

### mattmns

Is your mom going to be controlling you for the rest of your life? Is she going to tell you who to marry, where to work, where to live? If so, then do what she says. If not, follow your dreams!!!

3. Jul 25, 2005

### Knavish

I know that, but I can't come out of undergrad swamped in debt. Then I wouldn't even be able to go to grad school! I am not mindlessly following what my mom says; what she is saying is rational.

4. Jul 25, 2005

### Pengwuino

Call her useless because of her useless degree everytime she brings it up :D haha no just kidding. Anyhow... physics does have a huge future and the good thing about it is that it applies to many jobs you cant think of as being physics jobs. Also, you can get jobs that have nothing to do with physics with a physics degree! Whats great about it, and most peopel seem to agree, is that the idea that you can think for yourself and have a solid understanding of reality and mathematics. This is apparent to any employer and there are definitely cases where people get jobs over people who actually have degrees in the field the job is in.

That applies to BS degrees by the way. I also hear theres a lack of physics high school teachers in the US at the moment...

5. Jul 25, 2005

### gravenewworld

LOL show your mom the US governemnt's Bureau of labor statistics's list of highest paying jobs. You will see that physicist is in the top ten list(or at least in the top 15, i can't remember exactly which place it is in) for highest paying jobs available, even above engineering jobs.

6. Jul 25, 2005

### Tony11235

I've heard of a few people, one that works for SETI, that majored in electrical engineering, and went on to get a phd in mathematics. Thats sort of parallel to what you're question just was. Although SETI is not a place to make money at.

7. Jul 25, 2005

### gravenewworld

" o
What are the highest paying jobs?

Listed below are the 25 occupations with the highest median annual earnings in 2002. The source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics survey. For more information on and data from this survey, go to http://www.bls.gov/oes/.
Occupations with the highest median earnings, 2002. Occupation Median Earnings

Anesthesiologists
Greater than $145,600 Internists, General Greater than$145,600

Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Greater than $145,600 Surgeons Greater than$145,600

Pediatricians, General
\$133,350

Psychiatrists
130,930

Family and General Practitioners
130,610

Chief Executives
126,260

Dentists
123,210

Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
109,580

Podiatrists
94,870

Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates
94,070

Air Traffic Controllers
91,600

Engineering Managers
90,930

Lawyers
90,290

Optometrists
86,090

Computer and Information Systems Managers
85,240

Physicists
85,020

Petroleum Engineers
83,370

Natural Sciences Managers
82,250

Astronomers
81,690

Nuclear Engineers
81,350

Law Teachers, Postsecondary
80,770

Political Scientists
80,560

Marketing Managers
78,250

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
8. Jul 25, 2005

### Knavish

Okay, thanks, guys. I'll try to convince her. Her crap basically started when she "convened" with other Indians and found out that physics wasn't a "professional" degree.

9. Jul 25, 2005

### Pengwuino

What does that have to do with anything?

That list probably should list a huge # of those people as "doctors" :) Then we can look better haha

10. Jul 25, 2005

### MalleusScientiarum

Also keep in mind that graduate schools typically pay for themselves between tuition waivers and living stipends.

The fact is that your parents are not going to have to live with your decision. If you're serious about a career in physics, go for it.

11. Jul 25, 2005

### Stephan Hoyer

The local paper had an article about college graduates the other day and "Physics and Astrophysics" was #2 for highest earning majors. (Also note that on that list 9 of those positions above physicists could be more generally described as medical doctors and dentists are up there, too. That moves physicist up to #10.)

My mother, amazingly, has expressed similar concerns to me but I think I've finally managed to allay those fears.

Gosh... imagine if you wanted to be an English major? Physics is anything but a useless degree.

12. Jul 25, 2005

### Pengwuino

ha, my father was an english major. Even he thinks it was a useless degree.

13. Jul 25, 2005

### ek

People tell me all the time that Astronomy is a useless degree.

Bugger them. It's what I love and I'm going to do it.

Plus an astronomy or physics degree is not something you stop at BSc with, unless you just want to teach high school. Obviously I plan on getting MSc and PhD.

14. Jul 25, 2005

### Knavish

Haha, yeah. There's a guy in our town who ended up getting a masters in physics (at our local university), and couldn't find a job. So that kind of worried her too. I'll just have to convince her that I'll get a PhD in a nice university.

Thanks for all the statistics and stuff.

15. Jul 30, 2005

### alias25

my mums like that, plus im a girl shes not too happy, she bluntly told me that i didn't have the brains for it, even with top grades, shes trying every trick in the book to try and put me off wanting to do a physics degree, wants me to do pharmacy (uggh borring) dad too. its not comforting to know that your parents against what you want to do, plus im not exactly the most confident person, friends and teachers think differently. im worried if something did go wrong and i messed up parents would never let me forget. i wanna get a PhD and go into research (fingers crossed)

16. Jul 30, 2005

### MalleusScientiarum

If you are good at math and enjoy thinking very physically about problems, you have the brains for physics. People think that physicists are child prodigies, and while some are, the vast majority are not. Some of the most capable physicists I've met on our faculty admit to being not that impressive even as graduating undergrads. If you want to be a physicist bad enough, it's an itch that you'll keep scratching over and over again until you finally get there.

17. Jul 31, 2005

### dlgoff

There are universities that offer degrees in Engineering Physics. Same physics and math courses with engineering electives.

Regards

18. Feb 20, 2011

### CarlRoss_99

Re: Physics--my mom doesn't want me to major in it

You are way down on all those, surgeons make upwards of fourhundred thousand. Beyond that psychiatrists make over two hundred thousand. The rest are also off down to about 22.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
19. Feb 21, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Re: Physics--my mom doesn't want me to major in it

Well, what do you expect when those figures are more than five and half years old?

[Tip: look at the dates on the previous posts in this thread. ]

20. Feb 21, 2011

### Fizex

Re: Physics--my mom doesn't want me to major in it

There are a lot of things you can do with a physics degree but you have to make sure it's a Ph.D. Your mother is partially right, an engineer get's much better options with a bachelor's degree but that's not what you want to do.

Maybe you could get an engineering degree with a physics minor or major. As long as you can ace the PGRE then you are a competitive option to grad schools so just practice for that and take some physics classes like quantum, thermo, electrodynamics, etc. to prepare. This is a good option if you suddenly decide you might not want to go to grad school (some people get tired of school at the end of their 4 years).

Also, highest earning doesn't necessarily mean most employable. There are a lot of astronomers but only a few telescopes for example but they still get paid a good amount.

21. Feb 21, 2011

### Choppy

Re: Physics--my mom doesn't want me to major in it

First off - getting through undergrad without any debt (or at least minimizing the debt you incur) is rather independent of the major you choose. Regardless of what you end up in, you should start out with a plan. Consider:
- how much money you can earn between now and when you start university
- how much help your parents are able and willing to give you
- what scholarships you can apply for
- factor total costs into your school/program decision
- what summer jobs you can get
- what part-time jobs you can get during the academic year

Then there is the 'practicality of a physics degree' issue. It's important to remember that if you chose physics, you're chosing to enhance your education. A physics degree is not job training. People who go through physics tend to be rather successful career-wise compared to the general population for a number of reasons - in my opinion it's because (a) they develop a skill set for solving problems that has a lot of practical applications and (b) they're smarter than the average bears.

The thing is there aren't too many jobs out there that directly recruit for physicists. So when you finish your degree, and start looking for work, it's easy to get frustrated because when you type in "physics" in a job search website, not too many hits come up. This does not mean you're unemployable. It does mean you have to work a little harder to find something. Sometimess it means you have to now consider some job-specific training.

You also have other avenues to consider to. Have you thought about, for example: engineering physics, geophysics, or medical physics?

22. Feb 21, 2011

Re: Physics--my mom doesn't want me to major in it

@ gravenewworld,

Take care not to confuse having a physics degree with being a physicist. Most people with physics degrees would not be considered a physicist in that list.

Im my experience, physics without a PhD is a fairly useless degree in that it is not much more marketable or employable than any other B.S. or M.Sc. But the personal enrichment that a physics education provides is very, very useful. That said, I would have to rely solely on personal enrichment to justify my physics education, since it did prove to be useless towards a career.

23. Feb 21, 2011

### holomorphic

Re: Physics--my mom doesn't want me to major in it

My understanding...

People who majored in physics for undergrad are known to get jobs in quantitative, but not directly physics-related fields; the other way around is less common.

Always keep in mind that as long as you're past some kind of "employable" level, where you can earn a comfortable living, it is more important to be satisfied with what you are doing, since you will spend a great deal of time doing it.

I.e. make sure that work is still life, since the only practical value of work is to enable life.

24. Feb 21, 2011

### holomorphic

Re: Physics--my mom doesn't want me to major in it

I would choose to do this if I did my undergrad over. EE and physics.

25. Feb 21, 2011

### General_Sax

Re: Physics--my mom doesn't want me to major in it

How many people w/ a physics degree actually end up becoming physicists?