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Working as an engineer

  1. Oct 1, 2006 #1
    Physicists and engineers study the same topics. ELectrodynamics and nuclear physics are both parts of the larger field of Physiccs. Therefore would it be possible for a physicist to get a job that a nuclear engineer or electrical engineer has. Physicists also study motions and mechanics..............could you get a job as a mechanical engineer?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2006 #2

    chroot

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    Physics and engineering do overlap significantly, at least sharing a significant amount of undergraduate theory. Experimental physicists can probably walk right into an engineering position, since they work on almost identical problems. Theorists, on the other hand, generally lack exposure to the methodology and tools used by practicing engineers.

    Overall, I'd say it's certainly possible for a physics major to get a job as an engineer -- especially with relevant experience -- but such candidates will probably be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    - Warren
     
  4. Oct 1, 2006 #3
    Yes.

    I would like to elaborate on this question. I want to get a degree in physics (and learn physics), but later become an engineer and apply my knowledge of theory (or whatever. I want to KNOW the theory but I want to work as an engineer).

    Do I get a Ph.D. in my desired field of physics before going into engineering?

    Or a Master's in my desired field of physics?

    Or after my bachelors get a master's/ph.d. in an engineering field I want to work in?

    I do NOT want to be a paper pusher. I want to contribute.

    Thank you.
     
  5. Oct 1, 2006 #4

    chroot

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    Consider it this way: the longer you study pure physics, the further your experiences deviate from those of a practicing engineer. A person with a bachelor's in physics can likely assume many of the roles of an entry-level engineer, but a Master's or Ph.D. in physics really isn't going to teach you anything that will be useful in an engineering role. General relativity, for example, is pretty much just not going to be relevant to engineering work.

    If you intend to work as an engineer, yet are set on getting a Bachelor's in Physics, I'd suggest you get a job after undergraduate school, or pursue a Master's in engineering.

    - Warren
     
  6. Oct 1, 2006 #5
    Now is I get a Bachelors in Physics can get get a Masters in Engineering without geting a Bachelors in Engineering?
     
  7. Oct 1, 2006 #6

    chroot

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    Generally, yes. They may require you to take a few specialized classes first (like basic digital logic, etc.)

    - Warren
     
  8. Oct 2, 2006 #7
    Can an engineer go straig to a msters in Physics?
     
  9. Oct 2, 2006 #8

    chroot

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    Generally, no, because they generally have not taken any of the core classes in, e.g. quantum mechanics, nuclear and particle physics, etc.

    - Warren
     
  10. Oct 2, 2006 #9
    SO why is it I can get straight to a masters in Engineering but not Physics?
     
  11. Oct 2, 2006 #10

    chroot

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    It's not necessarily "straight," but it's easier to go from physics to engineering because you learn basic physical theory in both programs, but you only learn advanced physical theory (like quantum mechanics) in physics.

    - Warren
     
  12. Oct 2, 2006 #11
    we hire a lot of physics majors

    We (a large aerospace firm) hire a lot of physics majors at bs, ms and phd levels. The bs and ms levels work as engineers of one sort or another. Normally, they are given the more math oriented jobs such a algorthm design, electromagnetics or dsp. Phds usually work as engineers also. We get a lot of astronomers working in the optics area too. Many people who study astronomy end up as optical engineers.

    I would encourage you to study whatever technical field interests you and go as far as you want in that field. The job will work it self out. Just keep in mind though, that if you study physics you will probably end up as an engineer. I think someone on this forum said that 96% of Physics Phds end up as high power engineers in reality.
     
  13. Oct 3, 2006 #12
    My dream. :)

    Any benefits of going BS in Physics and Ph.D. in engineering vs Masters?

    I'd still rather get a Ph.D. in physics, though...
     
  14. Oct 3, 2006 #13
    Not saying this happens to everyone but it is possible to get over qualified and if the job market isn't good, private businesses wont' want to hire you becuase they are required to pay you more than someone with just a 4 year degree but can do the job just as well as you can.

    The reason I bring this up is becuase I know someone who got a PhD in mechanical engineering, he said he would have been fine if he would have just went to get a job after getting his 4 year degree. Then later went to get his masters and PhD while working at the same time.

    Now he's finally gotten into a job, at a University, but is getting very low pay as a Programmer. Thats all they had open in the department, he also had to work for free in the Bio-Mech department to get into the "system". It just never occured to me that being overqualified could also cause problems.
     
  15. Oct 4, 2006 #14
    Hmm how long does it take to get your masters, PH.D or become a Dr.
     
  16. Oct 4, 2006 #15
    I don't want a job that a guy with a 4 year degree can do.

    Yeah. But he was going straight to engineering. I hear you only get a Ph.D. in that if you want to teach, because otherwise you don't really learn much else. Or something. :grumpy:

    It definately can. That's why I hated the scene in "American Beauty" where the guy got hired to work in fast food. It wouldn't happen.

    This is especially true if there are jobs that you are better suited for. If a job opens, you're more likely to jump on it than stay with the company, and the company doesn't want to go through the process of hiring a new employee, training them, whatever.
     
  17. Oct 4, 2006 #16

    BobG

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    'Over qualified' is a relative term. The way you used it assumes education is a lot more valuable than practical experience. I think it works just the opposite. Experience is a lot more valuable than education. Education is just what opens the door so you can get in to gain the experience.

    Among PhD's, he's underqualified if he has zero practical experience.

    He's overqualified only compared to the fresh four year graduates. They aren't required to pay him more, but it's hard to believe a person with a PhD would stick around long at the pay his experience is worth. The most likely fear is that he'll leave for a higher paying job as soon as he's gained enough experience to be worth the time they spent breaking him in.

    Alternatively, if he had an explanation for the time gap between his bachelor's and looking for a job, he could just leave the Masters and PhD off his resume until he's working. Already having his advanced degrees sets him up to advance a lot quicker than the average person (hence the reluctance of employers to hire someone they won't be able to hang onto).
     
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