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What can you do with a physics degree?

  1. Nov 22, 2014 #1

    Evo

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    I think this video should be a sticky in Academic Guidance.

     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 22, 2014 #2

    Evo

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    Thanks zoki for first posting the link.
     
  4. Nov 22, 2014 #3

    lisab

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    That video makes a point that high school "guidance" counselors rarely realize: a physics education is not a vocational education. By "vocational education", I mean a degree that directs you into a very specific career: accountant, forester, nurse, or urban planner would be examples. Most engineering degrees fall into or close to this category.

    That's not to say a physics education doesn't give you marketable skills, of course! But, as the video points out, any education that "qualifies" you as a race horse namer :D ...well, let's just say it's a very broad education.

    (This observation is coming from someone who has first-person experience with the joy and pain of job hunting with a BS in physics.)
     
  5. Nov 22, 2014 #4
    I am musician with a physics degree! :)
     
  6. Nov 23, 2014 #5

    DataGG

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    There's also a very good thread about this in reddit.com/r/physics.

    Link here.
     
  7. Nov 23, 2014 #6
    I'm about to graduate with a bachelor's in physics, and I wouldn't want to work for a company that hires someone like me to do physics.
     
  8. Nov 23, 2014 #7
    :D
     
  9. Nov 23, 2014 #8

    wukunlin

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    The important thing to know (probably obvious but I feel often overlooked), though, is that a physics graduate won't be on equal footing when applying for non-physics jobs
     
  10. Nov 23, 2014 #9

    Maylis

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    So a physics degree doesn't train you to be a "physicist"? Where does one get this additional training to become a "physicist"?
     
  11. Nov 23, 2014 #10

    Evo

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    Masters, PhD, internships.
     
  12. Nov 23, 2014 #11

    wukunlin

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    there isn't really a set definition to label someone as a physicist
     
  13. Nov 23, 2014 #12

    Evo

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    Ok, so you've got a person with a BS in physics that doesn't work in physics, they're employed as an engineer. Then you have someone with a PhD in physics that is employed as a physicist. Would you call them both physicists?
     
  14. Nov 23, 2014 #13

    wukunlin

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    I would. I also understand why some people wouldn't, but personally I don't see why not.
     
  15. Nov 23, 2014 #14

    Maylis

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    Yeah, if you had someone with a BS in engineering that worked at a finance center, would you call them an engineer? What if you had a BS in physics and you worked in an aerospace company as a physicist. Are they not a physicist? This is just lame semantics.
     
  16. Nov 23, 2014 #15

    Evo

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    Isn't the engineer an engineer? I have a good friend that has a BS in physics, an MS in computer science. He is an inventor for a huge company that I am sure you have probably used at least one of his inventions, he holds a number of patents in his name through that company. He does not consider himself a physicist because he doesn't do physics.. Doesn't what you do define what you are more than what your college major was?
     
  17. Nov 23, 2014 #16

    wukunlin

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    That's one way to look at it. Some of theese people also consider themselves as "physicist working as an engineer."
    I wouldn't say "no you're not, your're an engineer!"

    On the other hand, some companies also employ engineers as "research scientist." I never have the chance to ask what they call themselves aside from the title on their business cards.
     
  18. Nov 23, 2014 #17

    Evo

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    I don't consider your undergrad degree as defining your occupation if you do not work in that occupation.
     
  19. Nov 23, 2014 #18

    Evo

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    I have a degree in business, but I went to work at AT&T and they put me through their data school and I became a data specialist, at times called a network engineer, network architect, etc... I have no experience in business, but over 30 years designing data networks. What am I? No one at work even knew what my degree was in, nor did they care. What I did for a living was what I was.
     
  20. Nov 23, 2014 #19

    wukunlin

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    Oh, I don't disagree with that. The occupation as an engineer is clear cut. But generally, when I see people refer to themselves or others as a physicist, it doesn't necessarily mean they are talking about their occupation.

    If I remember correctly (don't quote me on that one, I'll need to check later), Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel referred to himself as a physicist at around the time he stepped down from the role and his work is definitely management and engineering.
     
  21. Nov 23, 2014 #20

    Evo

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    I think people like to call themselves a physicist because they think it's impressive, but I feel that it is unfair for someone with only a BS to claim the same title as someone with a PhD that actually works in physics. Those people have worked REALLY HARD to earn the title. To be honest, they can say they got a BS in physics, but don't actually do physics, if they are trying to impress someone, but I have to ask WHY? Admit what you really do, people may think it's cool.
     
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