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Programs Which is the utility of a PhD in USA?

  1. Nov 3, 2004 #1


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    To live up the new forum, that's my question. If anybody wants to do a PhD, what will happen afterwards if you don't want to have a teaching career?

    Is there industrial jobs for PhDs?

    Do the industries give some value to a PhD, or merely they consider him a crazy sciencist without any utility in an industry?

    If so, what type of work can do, for instance, a Ph.D. Mechanical engineering or Ph.D. Aerospace engineer?. Has it to do with business administration or with pure science?.

    This question is extended to all countries, if you want to answer something about your country.

    I could tell you what happens here. A Dr. hasn't got any value in the industry. They don't want an absolute sciencist in their enterprises, because people very specialized are bad considered. So that, they go usually to universities and teaching, or to some public research center.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2004 #2
    I work for CTIMI (http://www.ctimi.com) and we employ several people with PhDs in physics. In addition, the company was founded by Dr. Terry Douglass, PhD. who helped to develop PET technology.

    The field of Nuclear Medicine certainly isn't the only field where physics is useful either. Typically anyone with a PhD in physics is either doing direct research work for someone else or independant research work while teaching so that they can pay the bills without having to secure a grant.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  4. Nov 3, 2004 #3


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    Thanks skyleach. I've looked into your link.

    Another question I want to put across is if a PhD in USA, working for a public or private research center or university is able to get by and take home enough money to have a medium-high way of life. Here it is not so. Here Doctors and Sciencists do not earn very much money (I would say they earn very little money indeed).

  5. Nov 3, 2004 #4
    Well in Canada, a PhD in High Energy Physics and a toonie will get you a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons. You can leave the diploma at home, but don't forget the toonie. In the US my PhD is not worth quite as much as in Canada.

    If you do a PhD don't do it for employment, do it because you feel like you have to.

  6. Nov 3, 2004 #5
    scholarship for phD

    helle there,
    i want to ask questions aboutscholarships for licence education and phD
    i am writing from turkey.i am physics engineeering student.do you know anything about scholarships.if you will answer me i will be happy.thanks by now
  7. Nov 3, 2004 #6


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    You can find PhD's doing anything from running a cash register to selling cars [which is what a couple of them I know do]. They also find less fulfilling work such as being ordinary engineers. There are private sector R&D jobs out there, largely in high tech and biomed industries, but, it would probably be fair to say that teaching and government jobs are where most end up.
  8. Nov 3, 2004 #7
    On a related topic... after getting a PhD in Britain I quickly got out of research because, unless you're lucky, you tend to be employed on short term contracts which do not always get renewed.

    One researcher where I used to work had been on 1 - 3 year contracts for 28 years. After gaining all that experience he was cut from the grant by the funding body. I guess he was too expensive. He's now having great difficulty finding work - industry doesn't seem to want someone who has university research experience.

    I enjoyed my PhD very much and am glad I did it but I'm sure it has reduced my employability.
  9. Nov 3, 2004 #8
    I don't see how it can reduce your employability. If you believe that why not just leave it off your resume?

    I've spent over 20 years of my life in college classrooms. I probably should have a couple of Ph.D.s by now, Unfortunately I don't even have one. Maybe I should have spent more of that time as a student and less of it as an instructor.

    The main utility that I can think of for a Ph.D. at this point in my life would be to use it to help get a research grant. I would actually like to get a research grant to start up a robotics business. Unfortunately without the Ph.D. my chances of getting a grant are pretty slim. Although, I'm told it's not impossible. Especially since I'm looking for a grant to start a business. I'm actually going to pursue this anyway, but if I had a Ph.D. I think I'd have a much better chance of getting the grant.
  10. Nov 3, 2004 #9
    I obtained a Master of Physics in the UK and worked for 3 years and am now pursuing a PhD in Texas USA.

    In the UK, I jumped straight into a job working for the Ministry of Defence doing Space Science research. I didn't even get a great degree classification, a 2.2, which is like a C grade I suppose. The Pay was good (over the national average) and I got to travel to hawaii and canada on field trips (!!)

    I am now doing a PhD in theoretical physics in america and I think that there are COPIOUS opportunities. If I could get a good job in the UK with a 2.2 degree and end up working in Space Physics Reseach, (the UK doesn't exactly fund that immensely) then I would be really surprised if there are not a damn load of jobs in the US where the research budget is HUGE compared to the UK. I would suggest looking into Government research. You could be doing some pretty interesting stuff... I mean NASA is government!

    My philosophy is what can't you do with a PhD in physics.

  11. Nov 3, 2004 #10
    i surely hope you are joking about that... i hate coffee... and isn't Mcmaster and the TRIUMF hiring people with PhDs in HEP?
  12. Nov 4, 2004 #11
    Hi there,
    Over here in Iran all is just the same, i'm a physic-crazy electrical engineering student, who can not go on studying physics, 'cause i'm defenitely sure i would be jobless for the rest of my life with a degree in Physics. People throw money into industries here and i've gotta become a good working engineer to live a normal-high life. By the way can anybody give me an update on the related courses in Physics and Electronics.
  13. Nov 4, 2004 #12
    To get a job at university job, you need continuous research &/or teaching experience in the field of your PhD. Otherwise, you aren't likely to be considered. To get a job in industry, you need industry experience. Once you have the industry experience in anything other than research you aren't likely to get back into a research position again, even if you continue to publish papers.

    So yes, if you stick to research your PhD will not only be valuable, but will be required. Anything else and it will most likely hinder you. Why hinder? Because if you leave it off your resume, you have a big gapping hole. If you include it, many people will consider you over qualified and not even grant the interview.

    Really there are only three ways out of the catch-22. 1. Extreme luck. 2. Friends who can help. 3. At some point in your career you lie or mislead on your resume.

  14. Nov 4, 2004 #13
    The industry era is certainly OVER and only a few "operators" will be kept on, so the only way will be creativity and the applied research to feed the needs of industry. PHD's of the world get ready to the task...
  15. Nov 5, 2004 #14


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    First of all, thanks to all for the responses. It has been a good feedback :).

    Well, I have choose docbill for quoting. I'm not going to get into a PhD program for employment only. But there is something called money that is necessary for many people (included me). I have to be sure of three points:

    -I'm going to do what I want to be happy
    -I'm going to have money for eating and living and that sort of human things.
    -I'm going to have a key to work in unusual scientific jobs, just where the science is being cooked.

    Imagine I've got the PhD and I don't want to become a professor. What opportunities I will have in USA or your country to work at?. For instance, do Lockheed Martin, Boeing or Ford in USA want a PhD working with them?
  16. Nov 9, 2004 #15
    Sure, one of my colleagues is getting a PhD in Quantum Field Theory and is getting a job with Skunkworks, starting salary 90k.
  17. Nov 12, 2004 #16
    No worry - all you need is the Ph D and off you trot! Jobs galore in the US for Ph D's. They won't look to hard at your resume but you had better be ready to teach!

    The first hurdle is realizing how stupid you are when compared to a 19 yr old with an IQ of 180, and then remembering all those names!

    A good way to begin is at Kindergarten where you may learn the basics and be able to make a fair show in front of Elementary age kids. OTOH just getting up in front of a crowd and spouting your stuff is good practice too, since thats about all most lecturers do anyway.

    Whichever, you might need to learn more English before you begin since eventhough your own intellectual abilities do not depend upon it, those who have to learn from you do.

    Whatever, best of luck old chap.
  18. Nov 13, 2004 #17

    Dr Transport

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    Industrial PhD's tend to learn a new area every 5 years or so, if you want to learn something new go there. I have worked in industry for about 10 years amongst a couple of major corporations and did signifiant work in a couple of different areas. After a bunch of time, I got to get back into what I like to do, not what my PhD is in, but close. I have some freedom to go off on my own to investigate interesting phenomenon as long as it pertains to my job.

    Academics spend time getting tenure, then if they try to change specialties loose their funding because they have not made a name for themselves. Yes, they push the boundaries of knowledge, but their work is essoteric (sic) and never really used. I find the "publish or perish" mentality of most colleges and universities to be the worst thing for the advancement of knowledge, there is no credit given for the work, only the number of pages and papers and the journal. I skim thru many journals and find them to be full of papers that should be combined with others to tell a more complete story.

    I got my PhD because I wanted it and because it would help me get a job to earn anough money to support my family. Its utility may not be very high to my empoloyer, but it has made my life livable.
  19. Nov 13, 2004 #18


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    I got my PhD so I could become an academic theoretical physicist, which i was until i didn't get tenure. Since that time I've worked as an urban&housing economist, worked in a lot of different areas of software development, in market research and management consulting in strategic uses of data -- as a sole proprietor for the past 15 years.

    My degree gave me two basics: 1. High level credentials, and 2. Superb training in problem solving. The first helps you get in the door (well some doors, there are actually folks out there who hold PhDs in considerable disdain.) The second allows you to do the job, often at a level that others cannot match.

    One disadvantage -- arrogance, a psychological hazard of the trade.Outside the academic/technical world, arrogance does not play very well. I never learned my lesson fully until I worked with some fresh MBAs working for a top-tier consulting firm. These kids could match physicists pound-for-pound in a battle of arrogance, with , however, the ultimately fatal exception that the young MBAs didn't know from nuthin', and screwed up projects. Ugly.

    There is opportunity all over the place. I've met physics PhDs in sales, in market research, as patent attorneys, in advertising, in Wall St.finance, in banking, in human resources consulting just to name a few of any, and without mention of the more traditional areas for physicists -- hardware, software, transportation, communications,....

    For me, at least, my degree opened many doors, many more than it shut. I've found my physics training and teaching and research to be invaluable my entire professional life. And, don't forget the discipline: to push a dissertation all the way to orals can be brutally difficult. Passing your thesis orals raises your game several notches -- by passing, you have done something most people could never do. That PhD is a great union card.

    Reilly Atkinson
  20. Nov 13, 2004 #19


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    Thanks to Robousy, Toasty, Dr Transport and Reilly Atkinson for sharing your experiences in the last posts. Very useful.

    To come up with a conclusion, I think I'm going to try it. Yes, in fact I want to do it. A 10% of my brain asks me about economics and money, a 70% asks me about getting into a Ph.D program, and a 20% have concluded yet that both things are simultaneously possible.

    I'm going to share with you a secret:

    These days I'm setting up the papers and documents needed for applying to a Ph.D. at the UCSD. :rolleyes:
  21. Nov 16, 2004 #20
    Good decision.

    Go for it.

    I am a 3rd yr PhD and its the hardest thing I've ever done, but almost everyday I feel myself getting smarter and learning more than I thought possible by a human being. Its very rewarding.
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