Theoretical Physics Ph.D and then switch to Engineering?

In summary, the conversation discussed the potential for a career in physics and the differences between being a physicist and an engineer. The speaker also mentioned their plans to pursue a PhD in theoretical physics and potentially take undergraduate courses in engineering. They questioned the stability and income potential of various engineering fields and also discussed the salary differences for teachers with advanced degrees. The conversation concluded with the suggestion to consider a double major or major in engineering instead of pursuing an undergraduate degree after a PhD.

What should I do?

  • Forget about Engineering, stay in Physics!

    Votes: 2 50.0%
  • Maybe you should get a degree in Engineering after your Ph.D in Physics

    Votes: 2 50.0%

  • Total voters
    4
  • #1
flyingpig
2,579
1
I am still a senior in high school and I am goin go to graduate next year and go to university next year.

I was in the career center today and the teacher asked how many students here are pursuing a career in Physics? And a few of us put our hands up.

The teacher said that it is a wise choice because in this near future, a career in Physics will be a well off job.

I am somewhat delighted to hear this because I always thought that jobs like Pharmacy, Doctors, or Lawyers maintain a profitable income. Now I have come to learn the Physics can too.

Now here is (or are...) the problems. I realize that the "Physics career" that will make a lot of $$$ are Engineers, not Physicists. I am not even sure what type of income will a Physicist make or even who will hire a Physicist because I am not the only Physicist in the world and I do not think my job will be a great demand to society.

Now I plan to get a Ph.D in Physics, particularly in Theoretical Physics and then perhaps go take undergrad courses for Engineering. I know this sounds really stupid, but how well a Theoretical Physicist stand in an Engineering course? I hear that a Bachelor is enough to get me a decent job.

My high school Physics teacher has a Ph.D in Physics and I hear that he makes approximately $20,000 more than the other regular teachers in my school based on an annual income. But is he just lucky?

Obviously there is a wide range of engineering jobs out there, but which is the most stable for $$$$? I hear Chemical Engineering is one. Not sure about unpopular Engineering like Material Engineering. My old math tutor has a Masters in Electrical Engineering and now he works as a tuition institution, how much he makes I have never asked him, but he once told me that companies who hire Engineers do not really care about your degree.

I know I am insane. I am Canadian, applying to University of British Columbia.
 
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  • #2
The educational system might be different in Canada than in the US... but down south, teacher pay within a particular school district is purely a function of years of experience, with a bonus for additional education. If your physics teacher is very experienced, he might very well be making $20K more than teachers with less experience and no M.S. or Ph.D.

As for getting a bachelor's degree in engineering *after* a Ph.D. in physics... well... keep in mind you will probably be close to 30 before you have a Ph.D. At some point in your life, you are going to want to get a job and make a little money... :-)
 
  • #3
Oops selected wrong poll option...

I don't think that doing an undergraduate degree in engineering after a PhD is a wise choice at all. If your that adamant that you may not want to stay in physics then perhaps consider going for a double major if not just a major in engineering? You can always take electives from physics. A physicist in academia (and teaching) will not, generally, earn the types of wages that can be found in the private sector.

For some areas of engineering you will need to go through accredited degrees often ending up with chartered status/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licensure" . This should certainly be a consideration.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Related to Theoretical Physics Ph.D and then switch to Engineering?

1. What is the difference between a Theoretical Physics Ph.D and an Engineering Ph.D?

A Theoretical Physics Ph.D focuses on understanding the fundamental laws of nature and developing mathematical models to explain physical phenomena. An Engineering Ph.D, on the other hand, focuses on the application of scientific principles to design and improve technologies and systems.

2. Is it possible to switch from a Theoretical Physics Ph.D to Engineering?

Yes, it is possible to switch from a Theoretical Physics Ph.D to Engineering. Many universities offer interdisciplinary programs that allow students to combine their knowledge in both fields. Additionally, some companies and research institutions value the analytical and problem-solving skills gained from a Theoretical Physics Ph.D in an engineering setting.

3. Will I have to start my studies over if I switch from Theoretical Physics to Engineering?

It depends on the specific program and university. Some may require additional coursework to catch up on engineering principles, while others may offer credit for previous courses taken. It is important to research and communicate with advisors to determine the best path for switching between the two fields.

4. What career opportunities are available with a Theoretical Physics Ph.D and Engineering background?

With a Theoretical Physics Ph.D and Engineering background, you can pursue a wide range of career opportunities. Some options include research and development in industries such as aerospace, energy, and technology, as well as teaching and academic positions. Additionally, you may also work in fields such as data science, finance, or consulting that value analytical and problem-solving skills.

5. Are there any notable examples of individuals who have successfully switched from Theoretical Physics to Engineering?

Yes, there are several notable individuals who have made the transition from Theoretical Physics to Engineering. For example, physicist and mathematician Edward Witten, known for his contributions to string theory, also worked as an engineer at the aerospace company Hughes Aircraft. Another example is physicist and inventor Nikola Tesla, who studied physics and mathematics before becoming known for his contributions to engineering, particularly in the fields of electricity and magnetism.

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