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Proper career-path?

  1. Jul 25, 2007 #1
    Hi guys

    Here’s the thing: I graduated from high-school last year, and I knew that I wanted to study computer science or physics – I just didn’t know which one. So I took a year off, and got a job as a programmer at an advertising agency. During that year I found out that even though I have a big interest in computer science, I have a passion for physics; so I have chosen to study physics.

    First my interest in physics lied within biophysics and molecular motors. But in time, I began developing a huge interest for nanotechnology/physics – more precisely, carbon-tubes and transistors and all that.
    Luckily there’s a scientist at the university I’m going to study at (Copenhagen, DK) who does research in that exact field, so I mailed him asking, how the opportunities are be part of that research when studying. He told me that they are big, and that I should come by and have a talk with him when I began my studies.

    Like everybody else, I would like that my hard work pays off – even though it’s not possible to tell the future, I guess you guys are the most qualified at answering, how the market will look. Will this area of physics be ”attractive” in 8-10 years? And are there any particular classes I have to take?

    If everything goes wrong, I can always get a job at a bank analyzing the interest or something, eh :-)?

    Best regards.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 25, 2007 #2


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    One's career is a matter of personal choice. What interests one may be different from interests of others.

    I thoroughly enjoy my career as a nuclear engineer. It is challenging and rewarding.

    One should choose a career that is both financially and intellectually rewarding, and above all, a career that one enjoys and finds meaningful.
  4. Jul 25, 2007 #3

    I agree with you 100%. I am quite sure that nano-physics is the path for me, but I haven't got a clue about the financial prospects.
  5. Jul 25, 2007 #4


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    It generally doesn't really depend on the topic.
    Post-doc, associate professors/lectures get paid the same what ever the field.
    In industry physicists are pretty much in demand whatever their field - most don't work directly in their speciality. Nanon-tech or at least the mems part is in demand in industry but whatever branch of physics you do you aren't going to starve, of course you aren't going to make millions unless you start your own company or get lucky at a startup.
  6. Jul 25, 2007 #5
    I had a problem similar to yours. The main difference was that my interests were all over the place. Originally I wanted to be a Psychologist, then I wanted to go into Business, and then I decided to go for Electrical Engineering, which is what I'm in school for now (will be a junior in the fall). I asked people, just like you're doing, who already have careers, and the most common response I got was "I have to do what you love".

    I was also concerned about the money I will be making, but people told me that if you really love your job, money isn't important. The problem with that, is that I'm not that type of person. Money IS important, simply because that's just reality. You can't live without money.

    In your case, I wouldn't be worried about money, though. Nanotechnology will be growing a lot in the next 10 years, that's for sure. I know this because my dad is an Electrical Engineer, so I know my share about jobs in that field and fields similar to it.

    One thing you should think about is location. I live in NJ, and High-Tech jobs aren't as abundant as they were in 2000. If you want to go into High-Tech, California is the place to be (that's right, Silicon Valley). There are literally THOUSANDS of High-Tech companies there.

    I hope this helped, and good luck!
  7. Jul 25, 2007 #6
    Nanotechnology is basically a research field at this point. 10 years from now, the state of development of nanotech can't be stated with any assurance, but as in any field of engineering or science you won't have to worry about the financial opportunities.

    If you are interested in developing nanocomposites and transistors the best fields for that are chemistry or textile engineering. If you want to get into the applications of nanomaterials mechanical engineering or biomedical engineering would be more suited. If you want to jump on development of nanorobotics then electrical fields of electrical engineering or mechanical engineering would be well suited as control theory has not yet reached the point where nanoscale machines can be made useful, and computer science does not yet allow for nanotechnology to be autonomous.

    A major problem with nanotech is the development of manufacturing capabilities. Dealing with tolerances in the billionths is a huge challenge to overcome before nanotech is mainstream, again look to the fields of mechanical engineering or physics.

    I'm not familiar with the dutch university system, but if its like American universites you will have around a full year to dedicate to a nanotechnology specialization in undergrad, and several more years in graduate work. Just remember you interest will change throughout college. Best bet is gain a better understanding of the differences in fields and their applications through asking your peers already working in your area of interest so you can alter your academic path to achieve your goal.
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