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Other Prospects of physics "expert" w/o degree

  1. Apr 28, 2016 #1
    I apologize for the bad title. I did not know what to put. Also, English isn't my best language as well. If clarification is needed, I will provide it.

    So, anyways. I was wondering how much prospects I would have for finding any physics related job if I didn't have a degree. I am saying this because currently I am enrolled in a university and do not like how the physics program at my university is run. Actually, in fact, I am not a fan of taking courses in college in general. I believe that the last 3 semesters I could have been more skilled and had a more enjoyable time learning physics (and all other subjects such as math, gen eds, etc.) if I was self taught. There are many physics resources (books, online notes, courses, lectures, videos, etc.) for my use.

    I believe that if I keep continuing in a university, I do not think I will come out of it with the skills and knowledge I had hoped for and it will not be a good experience on top of that.

    What should I do. Finish up the semester, quit college, self study and later start a career and find a job. Or continue finish up this semester and continue 2 more years in college.
     
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  3. Apr 28, 2016 #2

    phinds

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    My guess ... approximately zero (but it might vary from country to country)
     
  4. Apr 28, 2016 #3
    What if perhaps I have luck and/or connections, etc. And I am in the US
     
  5. Apr 28, 2016 #4

    phinds

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    Well, there are countries where connections count for more than knowledge so I wouldn't rule that out. I didn't consider that because it's not likely to be a factor in the USA.
     
  6. Apr 28, 2016 #5
    I must say, I am baffled at this question. If you have the opportunity to attend college take it! I get what you are saying about self teaching, but if you don't have a degree, your prospects for a career in your field of interest will be essentially non-existent. What is to stop you from studying on your own while you earn your degree? Furthering your self knowledge is great, but get your education too. Otherwise, you're knowledge on any advanced subject won't be taken seriously, trust me.
     
  7. Apr 28, 2016 #6

    marcusl

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    You can get a job programming, and especially writing gaming software, without a degree. (You might get worked nearly to death, but many of the sorts doing those jobs have. no lives anyway, and the pay can be decent.) As for getting a Physics job in the US with no college degree? If the chances aren't precisely zero, they're at least vanishingly small.
     
  8. Apr 28, 2016 #7

    radium

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    To get a physics job in the US you pretty much need a PhD.
     
  9. Apr 29, 2016 #8

    Choppy

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    If you don't like the way the physics program at the particular university is run, then why not switch to a different university with a program that's more up your alley?

    If your complaint is about the rigor of physics programs in general then you're facing a bigger problem. If you want to work in physics, you'll need to learn how to navigate the system. That doesn't mean you have to attend every class. Some students find that they do a lot better following a syllabus independently. But you still need those fundamental components of education called validation and feedback. You need to complete projects, work through labs, hand in homework, and successfully pass examinations. If that's missing then even if by some chance you actually have learned the material completely on your own you'll be competing in a world where everyone else has had that validation of their skill sets.

    And for physics jobs it's very competitive.
     
  10. Apr 29, 2016 #9

    ZapperZ

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    You might also need a wing and a prayer.

    Let's look at the facts one at a time, shall we?

    1. Why should I hire you? You would have no demonstrable evidence of your expertise. Should I just take your word for it that you have the skill and knowledge to do what I want you to do? All I have to go by is that you dropped out of school. Is this something that you think strengthens your resume?

    2. There are way many more PhD's in this field than there are open academic/research position. If a PhD holder finds it difficult to find such a job, what do you think your odds are at getting one with your background?

    3. What makes you better than other candidates who would have a track record not only of their education, but also their research accomplishment?

    You seem to be forgetting that when there is a job opening, you are not evaluated just on your own qualifications. You are also compared to OTHERS who are applying for the same position! Why are you the BEST candidate for the job when compared to them?

    Zz.
     
  11. Apr 29, 2016 #10
    Addition: Changing universities is definitely an option but may not be the best costwise. Right now I live in Illinois and I attend a university that is about several miles away from where I live. So, I decided to stay home to not pay the expensive housing costs. In addition, I got a scholarship to this university which pays a little over 50% of my tuition every year. Basically, my cost for education is low compared to most other college students.

    Also, the university I attend is in the middle of the scale of universities so to speak.
     
  12. Apr 29, 2016 #11

    Choppy

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    Fair enough. But if you're not getting what you want, there may not be much sense in getting in just because it's cheap.
     
  13. Apr 29, 2016 #12
    The only way I can think that you'll be a good employment candidate without the same degree as everyone else applying would be something even more prestigious. If you have a Nobel Prize, you might be able to get a good job without your degree.

    Suck it up and finish would be my advise. The way the program is run won't mean anything once you get your degree. I would consider maybe 99.99999% of what I was taught in college to be useless to me (Computer science evolves quickly and most was already out of date when I was there), but I needed the degree to start off to get where I am now.

    Just to be clear though: there is a very big difference between a programmer and a software engineer. You might be able to work on the game, but you'll make no decisions on design.

    So to the original poster: What do you want to do in physics? I'm sure there are "physics jobs" that don't require a degree, but you certainly won't ever work at JPL or Fermilabs.
     
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