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Physics or chemistry?

  1. Apr 27, 2008 #1
    Hello, I'm currently in year 10 at high school and trying to figure out which field I should pursue a career in. I like both fields equally, but don't know which one I should choose. I'm looking for some advice regarding the job opurtunities each field could offer.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2008 #2
    Hmm, how about your liking towards Math?

    Personally ... you'd require quite a lot of Math for pursuing Physics. Chemistry does require it too, but lesser compared to Physics. Also, at the undergrad level atleast I think you would be able to do more "cooler" stuff/ experiments in Chemistry labs then compared to Physics ...
  4. Apr 27, 2008 #3
    Yeah, physics labs definitely suck until you get higher up in the curriculum. Chemistry labs are always fun, though.
  5. Apr 27, 2008 #4
    You could also do Chemical Physics, which is sort of a blend between the two.

    As others already said, it depends on how you like math. In physics, all you will ever be doing is deriving new equations and manipulating them. You will always be introduced to new math techniques and use them to model how nature functions. Its not like highschool where its just basic algebra, it gets much deeper. In essence, by the time you're done with physics you will basically become an applied mathmetician.

    As for chemistry, you will memorize a lot of reactions and reaction mechanisms. You will understand the 3d shape of molecules and how it contributes to the overall reaction. There is also a lot of categorizing and classifications. Strong math will be needed too, because you will be using quantum physics to explain chemical results.

    Seeing as I'm doing both, via chemical physics, I'd say physics is way more abstract. You will be using logic and math to come up with results, and a visual component may not be present. With chemistry you will always be able to see the results, and most of it comes from the lab. I really view physics as a "math", and chemistry as a true "science" in that labs are an integral component. I like both equally well, so I can't give you a preference =)
  6. Apr 27, 2008 #5
    One thing to consider is that there are a lot more jobs available for bachelor's degree holders in chemistry than there are in physics. One might argue that there are many in physics too, but they rarely have the title "physicist" and it can be exceedingly difficult to convince the HR department that you are actually qualified and/or a good candidate.

    There are plenty of jobs titled "chemist" or "lab technician" for which a chemistry degree is an obvious and well-recognized credential.

    In my experience (having degrees in physics), my friends with degrees in chemistry have a much easier time finding employment in chemistry and related fields, and the jobs they find are much more geographically diverse.
  7. Apr 27, 2008 #6
    I would also agree with Chemistry. I am not in a chemistry program, although my program is very much related to Biological Chemistry and I have to say that the labs are very cool and fun.

    Also with Chemistry, either in general Chemistry (such as Organic chem) or something more specialized as in BioChemistry, you will easily be able to find a good job - and probably way more fun too.

    Although Physics jobs, I assume are great if you are working at an observatory or at NASA, or at some military installment.
  8. Apr 28, 2008 #7
    Thank you all very much for the replies. I would consider myself to be quite good at maths, and enjoy it, though I have no intention of pursuing a career in it (I'm currently doing advanced maths at school).

    So, from what I gather, physics would be a more difficult path, as there is complex math involved and scarcely available jobs, while chemistry would be somewhat easier with more jobs available.

    I have one more question though. Considering I really enjoy electrical engineering and physics, I was wondering if there is a field in that is a cross between the two.
  9. Apr 28, 2008 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm a physicist, and this doesn't sound anything like what I do.
  10. Apr 28, 2008 #9


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    I'm guessing you're from the UK (since you say year 10 and not grades) but if not, then I guess the rest of my advice will be moot!

    Anyway, if this is the case, then why not take both Physics and Chemistry at A level-- this is a perfectly natural thing to do (I did it) and will enable you to get a deeper understanding of both subjects before deciding which one to take at university.
  11. Apr 28, 2008 #10
    Cristo gave the best advice. I learned from a mistake this year - never take advice from people on certain courses or programs.

    I listened to a few people on taking a course that they said was super easy and did not take a course I would have loved to do. In the end, I worked my butt off for this course, and hated it miserably although I am hoping for a mid 80 in it. As for the other course, if I had taken it I would have loved it a lot (I know this, because I later on found a friend who took the course, and he showed me the curriculum which was very interesting).

    So, :) , after all that nonsense talk I would listen to Cristo.
  12. Apr 29, 2008 #11
    Good guess, but not quite. I'm actually Australian. I will try to do both in my last years at school, hopefully then I will get a good idea of what I want to do.
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