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Seeking a little advice on major/career

  1. Sep 29, 2007 #1
    Well currently I am a freshman in college enrolled in the college of engineering but something thats always been in mind since i took physics for 2 years in high school because my physics teacher was, lightly put, awesome--i have considered being a physics teacher. few things that i am curious/concerned about

    1. i really think im entirely competent and capable of a major in engineering but the fact that im not interested in a particular field at all sorta concerns me that maybe i would end not liking the field or maybe im wrong--maybe i wont be able to handle the work and the classes to major in engineering

    2. salary comparing the two careers...well fairly obviously a hs teacher will be making probably half that of an engineer starting salary regardless of specification of engineer--im aware that weighing salary's isn't entirely fair though
    because it doesn't take the other benefits and disadvantages of each job but that will lead to other questions that i will most likely ask later

    3. looking at my options to teach in pennsylvania--and more specifically major wise here at PSU main--i can major in physics with a special option of teaching sooo i would be getting a physics major and have a teachers certification vs a major in secondary education in sciences->physics--what difference would this make other than the name of the major on the degree if any?

    4. ummm as of right now i cant think of much else though i am sure other questions arise--this is something i have actually talked to my physics teacher from high school a little and with my adviser a little as well but i am looking for more input from other people thanks a lot of reading

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2007 #2
    1) The various engineering programs are only the tip of the diversification among engineering careers. Some of them are much more general than others, and some are useful in almost every industry. Physics is also a very good "wildcard" major that prepares you for strongly analytic work that may not even use much or any actual physics in the course of your work. Anyway, electives exist for a reason, also engineering departments often have events designed to showcase what their students are up to that might help you.

    2) Money doesn't buy happiness, although it can buy food, shelter, and health care. Pick a career you'll be satisfied with, not something where you'll suffer through the work day just so you can buy a more expensive car (generalizing, but more or less my philosophy on career choices). Also a career isn't 20 years at one company anymore, it tends to be a cluster of jobs that may be related in seemingly minor ways. There's no reason you can't do both, do one til you get burned out with it and then get a job doing the other.

    3) Physics with Teaching Cert / Physics Education / etc major would be my preference for a physics teacher over an education major any day. Not that I'm responsible for hiring teachers, just a physics major that would like to see more people with a love for the subject ending up teaching it. The really screwy cases are where you get a physics education major that ends up stuck teaching Music or some such. Since pay can vary by what you're teaching, sometimes more senior teachers end up with the better paid (often math and science) positions over people with a better knowledge of the subject. Screwy, but hardly the worst thing wrong with our education system.

    4) Talking to those sort of people is a very good idea. You might want to try and meet a few professional engineers since that's your other major option. Don't be shy about approaching people, humans by nature tend to like talking about things they enjoy.
  4. Sep 30, 2007 #3
    thanks a ton for the response--appreciate it--and yea about the electives thing, i have been scheduling nothing but courses/electives that i can use toward each major--im pretty sure i will be able to do this for another year or so until i will really start have a make a decision between one or the other but im looking to try and get things straightened out as early as possible, or more just looking for the information as early as possible

    also for another thing about the physics major instead of sec edu--you think that a physics major with teaching certification would be more desired and potentially higher paying vs second education sciences physics?
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2007
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