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Theoretical Physicist

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  • Thread starter MrMechanic
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What does it take to be a Theoretical Physicist. and what are the job oppurtunities
Sorry about the title. :D
 

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  • #2
Simon Bridge
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Welcome to PF;
... to be a theoretical physicist, you need to be a "physicist" (doh!) which usually means that you need a Masters degree in physics from an institution accredited with the ability to award such degrees.

After that, all you need to do is work with theories only - no experiments.

This will usually restrict your job opportunities to academia and think-tanks.

The competition for these jobs is quite high so it is unlikely you can get one on minimum qualifications.
Most people get to call themselves a theoretical physicist sometime in their postgraduate training and may collect money as a TA at that stage.

It's not unusual that you make more money for the time you don't spend on physics.
 
  • #3
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Is a Bachelor Degree on Applied Physics good enough? or should I pursue my Masters?
 
  • #4
Simon Bridge
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You can practice theoretical physics with no qualifications at all.

But, in most jurisdictions, the word "physicist" is legally protected - i.e. you cannot advertise your services as a physicist or promote yourself in that way unless you have a recognized Master of Science (Physics) from an accredited degree-issuing organization. At the very least, actual physicists will not take you seriously and you'll find it difficult to get published.

If you want to work, for salary, at an institution, as a theoretical physicist - you should pursue a doctorate as the first step on this path. The next stage is post-doc research, assisting others, getting your name on papers. After that, maybe ...

You can go BSc->MSc->PhD and some colleges prefer that path.
Usually you go BSc(Hons) -> PhD
 
  • #5
ZapperZ
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What does it take to be a Theoretical Physicist. and what are the job oppurtunities
Sorry about the title. :D
Is a Bachelor Degree on Applied Physics good enough? or should I pursue my Masters?
These comments/questions make me question if you actually know what "theoretical physics" is. More often than not, people who come here with such aspiration really have a severely erroneous understanding of what is meant as "theoretical physics".

Zz.
 
  • #6
Is there a requirement to have undergone an A-course(highschool) in chemistry to be competent enough to read theoretical physics?

It's on the list of basic knowledge. On the other hand, if it's not really essential, there's always the the option to take a national university aptitude test and skip the course, if it's missing in your "resume".

I never read any chemistry in highschool, hence my question.
 
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  • #7
Student100
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Determinism, you should also read Zz's link.
 
  • #8
Yes, I did read it, and some older threads here. I have a pretty good feel for what theoretical physics consists in. Not that much of a surprise, actually. Maybe the computer usage, since I have no background in that, but I will probably get used to it fairly quickly.

For job prospects, experimental physicist appears to be more solid. But being a philosopher, a theoretical emphasis suits me better, even if I am not a computer guy by any means.

I want to both philosophically and scientifically explore Quantum physics and General relativity in my own head. Logic informs me that a theoretical direction is the way to go on that.
 
  • #9
Simon Bridge
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Is there a requirement to have undergone an A-course(highschool) in chemistry to be competent enough to read theoretical physics?
Depends on the university - not usually, though there may be some physics papers at a more advanced level which will require some previous chemistry.

(Do I detect an English accent there?)

It's on the list of basic knowledge.
If that list comes from the university, then you should consider a refresher course - universities often offer them alongside undergraduate papers.

On the other hand, if it's not really essential, there's always the the option to take a national university aptitude test and skip the course, if it's missing in your "resume".
There you go.

I never read any chemistry in highschool, hence my question.
I failed chemistry at high school level :)

Yes, I did read [Zz's link], and some older threads here. I have a pretty good feel for what theoretical physics consists in.
The reason for the question was how you were asking about chemistry earlier - I'd normally expect someone with "fairly good feel for what theoretical physics consists in(sic)" would have been able to answer that question themselves.

For job prospects, experimental physicist appears to be more solid.
... more solid than what?
But being a philosopher,
... ah yes - it is nice to get paid to think about whatever you want to.
It is probably easier to get a job like that as a scientist than as a philosopher.
People will still look at you and ask: "Yes but what do you actually do?"

I think you need to talk to a physics dean at your University.
 
  • #10
... more solid than what?.
Than theoretical physics. I thought such inferences were not too advanced for an advisor on a physics forum.

.. ah yes - it is nice to get paid to think about whatever you want to.
Well, formal and predicate Logic is in the domain of philosophy departments. You seem to equate philosophy with religion.

People will still look at you and ask: "Yes but what do you actually do?"
Yes, people do look at me and wonder what I do. That's because most people are ignorant morons. It is a fact though that philosophical contributions in the last century has been rather sparse. That's because the students suck, not the subject.

I think you need to talk to a physics dean at your University.
Or spare the trouble and ask online.

In other news - theoretical physics is a complete dead end. It appears astrophysics/astronomy is the only rational course of action, if one hopes to get a job. Even if you are talent....


http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=1532
 
  • #11
ZapperZ
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This thread is done.

Zz.
 

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