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Quantum physicist vs Nuclear Physicist vs Chemical Engineer

  1. Mar 6, 2009 #1
    I have been planning on dual majoring as a nuclear physicist and also a chemical engineer. I was going to be the chemical engineer until I could get a good job as a nuclear physicist. This changed though when I started learning about quantum mechanics and I realized how much I enjoy it. I like chemistry, nuclear physics, and quantum physics equally. I wouldn't mind majoring in 2 physics courses, but I have read that there are not a lot of good jobs for physics straight out of college. Any help?

    Edit: I'm also only restricted to going to college in Florida because I have to use state scholarships to go.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2009 #2


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    The particular sub-field you enter in physics is usually not something you decide on until graduate school. Some programs have specializations in particular areas, but generally that means that your final year of courses is tailored in a particular manner. So if you're thinking about pursuing a field of physics, then you just find a physics program that interests you. You can make the sub-field decision later on.

    It's probably also worth mentioning that nuclear physicists use quantum mechanics. Not too many people define themselves as "quantum physicists" these days.

    I'm curious where you read that there are not a lot of good jobs for people with an undergraduate physics degree. Was the statement backed up with some data?
  4. Mar 6, 2009 #3
    I don't remember quite where I read it, though it was on some sight like this, and no there was no data to back it up. So, I'm guessing that data is false and I shouldn't have relied on that?

    Edit: what about theoretical physicists? Do they usually only get a job in a university?
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2009
  5. Mar 6, 2009 #4
    If you wanna stick with doing theoretical physics, then either a job at a university or a research institute (e.g. CERN, Bell Labs) is the only way to go. The latter are quite specific in their field of research.

    But as a theoretical physicist you can just as 'easily' end up in the world of consultancy, finance, etc. You just won't be doing physics anymore..
  6. Mar 6, 2009 #5


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    Are you freshman in college? I think you should really wait till you have more physics classes under your belt, double majoring as a physicist might not be as trivial as you think.

    @xepma - Bell Labs as your thinking about it does not exist anymore
    there is no basic research going on for Lucent.
  7. May 23, 2009 #6
    Consistent with the above posts I would like to reiterate you really don't need to choose a field to specialize in until graduate school. Spend your undergraduate years by forming a strong base in mathematics and supplementing it with a wide range of physics, chemistry and other engineering courses that interest you. Also, try to get involved with a professor or graduate student being in aid to research; this may give you a better idea of what you want to do.
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