1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics Special Operations Officer transitioning out

  1. Jan 21, 2017 #1
    Hey all,

    I majored in Physics with a solid GPA as an undergrad and then I joined the Navy as an officer and spent all of my time in Special Operations with significant combat leadership experience. During my time in I also earned a masters in Physics from the Naval Postgraduate School where I did research/thesis concentrating in the nuclear realm of physics.

    Needless to say, I've been in and out of academia over my career and am unclear of the opportunities for someone with a unique background such as myself.

    Does anyone have any experience with someone with my background (both in research/degree and occupation)? Or any advice on the best field to transition in?

    Thank you!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2017 #2

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I'm sure you've already thought of this, but perhaps working for a Defense Contractor on weapons systems? That would combine your knowledge of real-world experience with the science.
     
  4. Jan 21, 2017 #3

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Your background - it's an 1140?
     
  5. Jan 21, 2017 #4
    Thank you for the suggestion about Weapons. I was aiming for leadership opportunities in research too.

    I'm an 1130. Any big difference between opportunities for EOD vs NSW?
     
  6. Jan 21, 2017 #5
    I suppose one of the main points I'm trying to understand is: Will such a typical military background and education hinder me in pursing non-military physics research employment?
     
  7. Jan 21, 2017 #6
    Im curious what kind of job are you thinking about specifically? Most research is done in a university or national lab by PhDs. Are those the settings you are considering, or something else?
     
  8. Jan 21, 2017 #7
    If that's the case then looks like going back to school for the PhD is the best bet for me.
     
  9. Jan 21, 2017 #8
    That will open many doors for you. Even with a PhD actual research jobs are very competitive, so I suggest a solid backup plan like programming or teaching.
     
  10. Jan 21, 2017 #9

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    No. As an example, Tom Carter got his PhD in particle physics from Duke. He's not just former Navy, he's a former SEAL. Granted, that was 25 years ago, but I don't think the environment has changed.
     
  11. Jan 21, 2017 #10

    Student100

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    PhD will certainly open more doors.

    You might also look into SPAWAR if you're around San Diego or Charleston, you could likely find a program management job, or division/departmental scientist job with a masters and your background. Those roles can be hit or miss though, sometimes it's just more advisory or administrative than actual research. It would depend on what code you landed in. Even in the "less technical codes" there is still opportunity, and a good degree of freedom to pursue pitches for funding any idea or research you might have.
     
  12. Jan 21, 2017 #11
    Having a nuclear physics and Navy background would help you start a career in power generation as well. I know of power plants, turbine manufacturers, generator manufacturers, and government agencies that background would be helpful and desirable for.
     
  13. Jan 22, 2017 #12

    Fervent Freyja

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Thank you for the service. :heart:

    I think that you will find many opportunities within the defense industry. Those qualifications do give you a variety of options. A great uncle also took a similar path with an engineering degree, then entered the Navy: he recently retired from Boeing and is still able to support his children and even babysits his grandchildren, every day. To correct an above reply: not all research is done within academia, defense contractors do this as well, only just that those positions don't always require a PhD process... A military background should improve, not hinder, your career opportunities! At least it should work that way, I'm not sure if it always does though.

    Capitalizing a common noun is unnecessary for this instance unless you are referencing to a specific person. Since you so often get riled up when posters don't know as much as you on a topic and often remind other members they should follow PF rules, I thought you needed a kind reminder to follow the rules too:
     
  14. Jan 22, 2017 #13

    Student100

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Didn't you complain that I was a bitter old man at one point? :dademyday:
     
  15. Jan 22, 2017 #14

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Good point. I think I'm a German at heart :smile:
     
  16. Jan 22, 2017 #15
    Wow.

    Everyone thank you so very much for the advice and help! I'm sure my ignorance is apparent in regards to my possible opportunities, but this forum has helped me so much.

    I will continue to reach out to various defense companies in hopes if discovering research opportunities is physics.
     
  17. Jan 23, 2017 #16

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    Do you know of anyone at NRL who might also give you some guidance, especially if you intend to stay in research?

    The issue here isn't whether there are projects available. Rather, it is whether they are looking for people. The NIF, for example, has a large military research component alongside the civilian research. So even in the various National Labs such as Los Alamos, Sandia, Livermore, etc., there are significant research work done by and for the military (if that is what you're looking for). And of course, the NRL is the premier US military research facility. It might be something worth exploring, especially in deciding if you do need to go back for your PhD and the field of study you want to go into.

    Zz.
     
  18. Jan 23, 2017 #17
    On that note, NRL has multiple PhD granting programs for feds who've worked there at least a year; other DoD labs (Naval Surface Warfare Centers and such) have similar programs.
     
  19. Jan 23, 2017 #18

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    Really? NRL grants PhD's?

    I know that there are PhD candidates doing their research work there, just like any other US Nat'l labs, but I didn't know they are also capable of granting degrees.

    Zz.
     
  20. Jan 23, 2017 #19
    Sorry I wasn't clear, it's not that NRL itself will grant PhD's but they'll send their employees to PhD programs with tuition and such paid plus partial salary, provided the training benefits the employee's branch.
     
  21. Jan 23, 2017 #20
    In some circles. I've heard reports that otherwise qualified applicants have been regarded as "too militaristic" usually by departments and institutions with liberal, anti-war attitudes.

    But that just narrows your field a bit.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted



Similar Discussions: Special Operations Officer transitioning out
Loading...