Should I Pursue a Career in Physics? Urgent Need for Help

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In summary, the individual is a high school graduate considering a career in physics but is unsure if they have what it takes. They are currently researching and looking for resources to help them determine if they should pursue this career path. They have also taken a test that suggests they have the potential to be a physicist but may lack the drive and training at the moment. They are seeking advice from senior undergrads, graduate students, and professors, and plan to take the first year university physics class before making a decision. However, they do not want to waste a year and are looking for a generalization of what it's like to work as a physicist. They are also facing a long wait time for a decision from the Canadian military regarding a potential career
  • #1
Should i pursue a career in Physics?-- need help. Urgent.

Hello everyone,
----------------Skip wall of text if you do not want to know about me---------------
I'm a high school graduate, and I'm currently thinking about starting a career in Physics. Lately I've started to doubt if i have what it takes to be a physicist. I somewhat lack creativity, but just the thought of being a physicist, working long hours in order to solve a problem that may someday help us understand a little bit more of nature, makes me smile. I should also say that this is not what i dreamed about when i was a kid (obviously) but something that came to me while taking physics in high school. My main objective is to become a pilot, i do not have the resources to do so, so i have opted for the military path (which is what i was going to do anyways, but they pay for your education here in Canada). The problem is that applications for pilot way surpass the available positions, which is why there is a VERY good chance that i get rejected. Having this in mind i am doing research to see what career path i should take, absolutely nothing calls more to me than pursuing a career on the military (as an officer or maybe an engineering path, but being an engineer in the civil world is not for me) or being a physicist.

Here is the result of one of those 10 questions test designed to help you see if you have what it takes. I don't like the results but i found it to be accurate. ( i do read Hawking's books lol)
You are the quintessential \"general\" scientist - you have the makeup to become a physicist, but you lack the training and drive at this current moment. Your knowledge is broad, but ultimately vague; you are the type of person that intense physicists loath however, because you don\'t portray the true passion of our field. You need to start questioning less, and analyzing more. Prioritize the questions you want answered and pursue them. And stop reading Hawking books. As of right now, you\'ll probably just be getting a bachelors degree and joining the workforce.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OK now to the important part, I NEED HELP. I am looking for resources that can help me determine if i have what it takes to be a physicist, books, questionnaires, etc. Anything and everything that can help me decide if i should pursue this career path is IMMENSELY appreciated .


Thank you.
 
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  • #2


These kinds of tests are about as accurate as a horoscope, so I wouldn't put a lot of value in them. Where they can help, is that they may get you to start thinking about directions you want to go in - which is likely what prompted your post.

The bottom line is that there is no litmus test to determine whether or not you have what it takes to be a physicist.

The good news is that this isn't an urgent matter - even if it feels like it right now. You're likely facing a decision about what to study at the university level, which is different than choosing a career. At this point, take the first year university physics class. Up until the end of first year, it's relatively easy to change directions if it turns out not to be your thing. During this time talk with senior undergrads and graduate students and professors. Read biographies of physicists, and other scientiests. If you can, get involved with a research project.

Making a career out of physics isn't so much a single decision that gets made at one point in your life. Rather, it's a series of small decisions that are made almost on a daily basis.
 
  • #3


Well yeah I'm aware that those type of test do not do much for you. I just found that description to be an accurate description. Which is find since, at this moment and with my limited knowledge, I do not believe i should be too specific on what physics path I want to take.

That seems like a reasonable thing to do since I have to wait approximately one to two years to know if I am accepted in the army. But, i do not feel like wasting one year in university. Which is why i am researching and trying to find tools that can give me an idea as to what to expect when working as a physicist before i go to university. I want to get the feel of what they do, i realized there are many many different physics careers one can take, nevertheless I'm looking for a generalization.
 
  • #4


The point I was trying to make is that it wouldn't be a wasted year. The first year of a physics degree can easily be transferred for credit towards another science degree or an engineering degree.

And 1-2 years to know if the CF accepts you seems like a long time. Maybe you mean 1-2 years until you find out if you can be a pilot. Or maybe things have changed since I served.
 
  • #5


Yes, i did some research and found out that (at least in the University of Calgary) the first year is similar for any science or engineering programm which is just what i needed to hear. Although i know if i start university with a "physics" mindset I am probably going to follow that path.

Yeah is a long time, what can i say? being an immigrant sucks lol. They have to do a security check, even though i came to Canada as a minor. But what can i do, eh?
 
  • #6


Physics9123 said:
Lately I've started to doubt if i have what it takes to be a physicist.

Go to college, take some physics courses, get involved with undergraduate research, and see if you like it or not. You don't have to make any big decisions now.

Also studying physics is very different from being a physicist. Most people that study physics don't end up being physicists.

The problem is that applications for pilot way surpass the available positions, which is why there is a VERY good chance that i get rejected.

If you get a Ph.D. there is only a 1 in 10 chance that you'll get a research professorship. Remember that.

Here is the result of one of those 10 questions test designed to help you see if you have what it takes. I don't like the results but i found it to be accurate. ( i do read Hawking's books lol)

Don't take that test seriously. It tells you nothing. I'll bet if you have it to some current physicists the test would find that they aren't suitable to do physics.

OK now to the important part, I NEED HELP. I am looking for resources that can help me determine if i have what it takes to be a physicist, books, questionnaires, etc. Anything and everything that can help me decide if i should pursue this career path is IMMENSELY appreciated .

You have four years of college for you to figure that out. Don't try to make decisions yet. Try lots of different things while you have a change to, and we'll see what happens.
 
  • #7


Physics9123 said:
Hello everyone,
----------------Skip wall of text if you do not want to know about me---------------
I'm a high school graduate, and I'm currently thinking about starting a career in Physics. Lately I've started to doubt if i have what it takes to be a physicist. I somewhat lack creativity, but just the thought of being a physicist, working long hours in order to solve a problem that may someday help us understand a little bit more of nature, makes me smile. I should also say that this is not what i dreamed about when i was a kid (obviously) but something that came to me while taking physics in high school. My main objective is to become a pilot, i do not have the resources to do so, so i have opted for the military path (which is what i was going to do anyways, but they pay for your education here in Canada). The problem is that applications for pilot way surpass the available positions, which is why there is a VERY good chance that i get rejected. Having this in mind i am doing research to see what career path i should take, absolutely nothing calls more to me than pursuing a career on the military (as an officer or maybe an engineering path, but being an engineer in the civil world is not for me) or being a physicist.

Here is the result of one of those 10 questions test designed to help you see if you have what it takes. I don't like the results but i found it to be accurate. ( i do read Hawking's books lol)
You are the quintessential \"general\" scientist - you have the makeup to become a physicist, but you lack the training and drive at this current moment. Your knowledge is broad, but ultimately vague; you are the type of person that intense physicists loath however, because you don\'t portray the true passion of our field. You need to start questioning less, and analyzing more. Prioritize the questions you want answered and pursue them. And stop reading Hawking books. As of right now, you\'ll probably just be getting a bachelors degree and joining the workforce.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OK now to the important part, I NEED HELP. I am looking for resources that can help me determine if i have what it takes to be a physicist, books, questionnaires, etc. Anything and everything that can help me decide if i should pursue this career path is IMMENSELY appreciated .


Thank you.

Hey there and welcome to the forums.

Here is a pretty good outline of the stuff you will cover in a physics degree:

http://www.phys.uu.nl/~thooft/theorist.html
 
  • #8


Thanks for your help Twofish.

I would certainly look into that Chiro, thanks.
 
  • #9


Also what area specifically should I be proficient on before going to university?... if anyone remembers...
 
Last edited:

1. Should I have a deep understanding of mathematics to pursue a career in physics?

While a strong foundation in mathematics is definitely helpful in pursuing a career in physics, it is not a strict requirement. Many universities offer introductory math courses alongside physics courses to help students develop the necessary mathematical skills. However, it is important to have a good grasp of algebra, trigonometry, and calculus to be successful in physics.

2. Is it necessary to have a PhD to work in the field of physics?

Having a PhD in physics can open up more opportunities for research and teaching positions, but it is not always necessary. Many careers in physics, such as engineering or data analysis, only require a bachelor's or master's degree. It ultimately depends on your career goals and the specific job requirements.

3. Is physics a lucrative career?

The salary for a physicist can vary depending on the specific job and location, but in general, physics is considered a high-paying field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for physicists in 2020 was $96,770. Working in specialized fields such as nuclear physics or astrophysics can also lead to higher salaries.

4. What skills and qualities are important for a career in physics?

Aside from a strong foundation in mathematics and science, a career in physics requires critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills. Attention to detail, good communication skills, and the ability to work well in a team are also important. Additionally, having a curious and creative mindset can help you excel in the field of physics.

5. What are the potential career paths for someone with a degree in physics?

There are many career paths available for someone with a degree in physics, including research, teaching, engineering, data analysis, and even finance or consulting. Some common industries that employ physicists include academia, government agencies, and private companies in fields such as aerospace, energy, and technology. With a physics degree, you can also pursue further education in fields such as medicine, law, or business.

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