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Should I pursue a career in theoretical Particle Physics?

  1. Aug 13, 2014 #1
    Hi, i'm new to the forums here, so please forgive me if this is the wrong place to post. I'm currently a junior in high school, and from an early age I was put in all the "gifted" classes. Which kind of put pressure on me to choose a career like physics. Despite all the pressure I always loved physics as a whole, and dreamed of being a physicist. Anyway, I have filed down my choices for a career to Astrophysics, Particle Physics, or possibly quantum mechanics (even though i will probably already choose to learn more Qm anyway) I just need a little guidance here. I just want to know if my dreams are useless, or if it's actually plausible that i might be able to choose one of those careers. I specifically want to be a theoretical particle physicist. So do you think that that's a long shot? I know i can learn it, and I already have been since I was a young child, but career wise...will there be jobs available? is getting a phd worth it? Thank you very much for reading :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2014 #2


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    The choice of what you can or cannot do is up to you. You are also pretty young to pre-determine what you want to be in the so far future. You first have to enter a university for physics, and see first-hand what's more appropriate and appealing to you. People change throughout the experiences and years. The dreams are fine to exist.
    Also asking about jobs or phds, it's even more complicated. Each one has his/her own experience on the topic, some say it's not worthy others think it is... it's again a matter of your decision and how strong guts you have... But you will find it out throughout your studies -you'll need at least 5 full years of studies before the phd (more than enough to test your abilities).
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2014
  4. Aug 13, 2014 #3


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    Nearly all parts of modern physics rely on quantum mechanics. Theoretical particle physics is 100% based on quantum mechanics.

    Note that "theoretical" and "experimental" might not have the meanings you expect - you can get a PhD in "experimental particle physics" without ever seeing or working with an actual experiment.

    Sure, there are particle physicists. The number of permanent jobs is much smaller than the number of PhD positions, however, so most go to other fields afterwards.
  5. Aug 13, 2014 #4
    Starting at that age might make it a possibility, but it's also too early to say anything. For most people, it's a bad idea because of the shortage of jobs, unless maybe they make sure that they pick the right area or develop the right skills to get a job while they study physics. Some people are okay with devoting years and years to something they don't end up working in, which is the most likely outcome if you don't carefully choose an area where there are more jobs. There will always be a few positions for physicists, so someone will get to be one, and someone who started so early will probably have the best shot, but still no guarantees. Best thing is just to have a plan B, just in case. If your plan A works out, then the plan B will still make you more well-rounded.
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