• This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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Postby chewy » Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:46 pm

I was interested in how people found out where the jobs related to physics are in. For instance, Astrophyiscs is very heavily relied up the federal government for funding. One reason i did not choose that as a possible research area. How do I go about finding where the jobs in physics are at the PhD level. I just dont want to graduate with a PhD and not find a job. I want to work in the private sector, as my predictions are that at least for the US that science research funds from the government will go down drastically over the coming yrs.

I applied to astmopsheric physics, but it would not be unusual to switch within my first year to quantum or something would it?

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Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: Jobs

Postby quark314 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:17 pm

I'll assume you're referring to non-academic jobs.

Think about which companies are the biggest employers of science-y people.

Obviously you've got all the national labs.
Major private government defense contractors like Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon
Semi-academic private labs like the JHU's Applied Physics Lab and MIT's Lincoln Lab
Big R&D companies like Proctor and Gamble, GE, etc

Keep in mind that many jobs that are in principal for engineers are still open to physicists, so any kind of company that would be hiring lots of engineers, there's a good chance they're hiring physicists too (ok, they're probably not going to let you design and build a bridge without an engineering degree, but they would let you, say, join a team developing new microchip technology or the latest and greatest new detectors for an MRI, even though both of those projects are really more engineering jobs).

Or there's the not-physics-but-hires-physics-people kinds of places like Wall Street and some kinds of consulting jobs... other jobs that require analytical thought...

I'm sure there are lots and lots of other examples.

Really, the question you've asked is so broad it's hard to answer. There are non-professorial jobs in basically every field. Astro (since you used that as an example of a field that might not have a lot of jobs): staffing observatories, developing tactical satellites, astro backgrounds translate well into jobs in radar which have all kinds of defense applications... astro also translates well into signal processing applications, which is useful in all sorts of different industries.

But, at least for the kinds of places I've listed above, you can go on their websites and get some idea of what fields they're focused on. I think you'll find there's a little of everything out there, at least assuming you're an experimentalist. But, it's worth noting that most of the examples I listed above, while they are private, much of their actual research is still government funded in large part. If you're trying to avoid government funding entirely while still doing science research (not, say, wall street), you may find your options somewhat narrowed.

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Re: Jobs

Postby dct64xx » Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:03 pm

Don't forget government jobs, there's a decent amount of those for physicists, aren't there?

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Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: Jobs

Postby quark314 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:15 am

Sure, there's tons and tons of govt jobs for people in all areas of physics and engineering. But the poster specifically said they wanted to avoid federal funding.

But for others reading this thread who may interested, there are many national labs each of which employs hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of professional scientists including physicists. There are also national observatories for the astrophysics-minded. And then all the big science-y government agencies... NASA, Dept of Energy, Dept of Defense, etc. Even covert agencies like the FBI and CIA need professional scientists both as field agents (think socially engineering other scientists into revealing sensitive technical info) and behind the scenes.

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