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What are the hours?

  1. Jul 26, 2007 #1
    I want to become a physicist and should go to university to start my BSc soon. But what about the hours? How much time will I spend studying? When I graduate, how much time will I spend working? In that two year old astrophysics with politics thread I read that an astrophysicist works around 60 hours a week. That's a lot! I don't mind working, but I want to do other things as well, like sports, going out and travelling. Will my job allow for it? Both financially and in terms of time?

    I'm not sure what kind of physicist I want to be yet, but I'll probably do research(or be a theorist). This is probably very general, so could you please give me some cases for different physicists, just to see what's it like for different people.

    Any information is appreciated, thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2007 #2
    I'm a first year graduate student in astrophysics. I spend about 40 hours a week working on research, and an additional 10 to 15 a week studying for my qualifier. When the school year starts, I'll be swamped with classes and TA duties, but during the summer I've had plenty of time for leisure activity. My professors also seem to have a good deal of time off. One of them, for example, recently took about a month off, and before that he was coming in for half days. So yes, you'd have a good deal of time for recreation as a physicist, though you'd probably have to wait until you were out of grad school.

    Also keep one thing in mind with the 60 hours figure. Academics tend to like what they do. An astrophysicist who works 60 hours a week probably puts in the 40 hours required of him, and then another 20 hours just because he feels like it. For example, I just got back from a trip to a gamma ray telescope with my professor (we were doing maintainance and testing of the components). We put in about 8 hours a day. But one night, we just randomly decided to go to the observatory and turn everything on to see if it worked. I'm sure that stuff like that gets absorbed into the 60 hours figure.
  4. Jul 26, 2007 #3
    I'm not a graduate student, but I have asked this same question of those in the lab here with me. It seems that with classes, research and studying they put in about 40-50 hours a week. However, there are also long stretches of time where the experiment is on hold, waiting on another school or a piece of hardware, where they might only spend 20 hours a week on physics related stuff.

    This is in a particle astrophysics lab.
  5. Jul 26, 2007 #4
    Like any profession, you get out what you put in.

    I asked my wife not to come with me to graduate school, because all she would do is stare at me while I study or do research. I don't have the luxury or the inclination to have a social life. Everything takes a back seat to physics.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2007
  6. Jul 27, 2007 #5
    Hmm, sounds good so far.

    I can have free time when I want it or I can always go and fiddle with some telescope if I haven't got much on... Sweet.

    Now to go to university and get that master's...
  7. Jul 27, 2007 #6
    Which uni are you off to Unicyclist?

    Are you doing the 4 year undergrad Master's?
  8. Jul 27, 2007 #7
    I want to go to Edinburgh University to do a 5 year Master's.

    Haven't chosen any specific field yet, just physics...
  9. Sep 5, 2007 #8
    I'm starting at the Uni of Leeds doing the 4yr MPhys in straight physics. I'm sort of interested in theoretical too, but that is a different program from day one. Maths at a higher level, and you miss one of the labs. I do feel a bit torn between straight physics and theoretical, and it's awkward having to decide between the two when I haven't even got to the uni yet, and am uncertain of what the workload will actually be like.
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