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What kind of careers are there in the physics field?

  1. Jan 4, 2015 #1
    I've heard of a few career types in science such as engineering, astrophysics, theoretical physics, and basic ones like that, but I was wondering if someone could give me a more detailed list of careers or break down some of them. Such as is it just theoretical physics or is it broken up into more categories of theoretical physics. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 4, 2015 #2
    First of all, theoretical physics comprises a wide variety of fields in physics. A very small portion of theoretical physicists are concerned with things like String Theory (or any "Theory of Everything", for that matter). What it means is that their approach to problems in physics involves a lot more pencil and paper and computer simulations than someone running the experiments. There are theoretical condensed matter physicists, theoretical nuclear physicists, theoretical acoustical physicists. The list goes on.

    There are people here with more authority than me to speak on the subject of careers, but I've heard of physicists being hired at national labs, the semiconductor industry, oil companies, etc. (and of course, universities). I'm unable to comment with more depth on physicist careers.

    However, since you mentioned engineering, I can tell you where electrical engineers work. First, there are power engineers, i. e. the ones who make sure that those power lines outside your house actually have, well, power. There are telecommunications engineers, who deal with everything from cell phone towers to satellite communications and everything in between. There are computer engineers, who designed the electronics in the computer you used to ask this question. There are also electrical engineers working in areas with optics and optical communication (for instance, engineers who study better ways to make fiber optic cables--sending information using light). Control engineers work with things like sensors to make processes work (kind of vague, I know--think things like cruise control on a vehicle). Electrical engineers use a variety of sciences--physics, chemistry, math, and sometimes biology--to work with electromagnets, radar, antennas, etc.

    Of course, that's just one branch of engineering. There are exciting developments happening in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, etc. as well.
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