LAC Professor Jobs after GS: also nearly impossible to get?

  • 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.

Abcdf
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Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:11 am

LAC Professor Jobs after GS: also nearly impossible to get?

Postby Abcdf » Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:25 am

I am rethinking all of my choices right now.

I am accepted into a physics Ph.d. program, but it is barely within the US News top 30.

I enjoyed doing research in school, but I also do enjoy working as a programmer now. Plus the ~100k/yr is way more appealing than a graduate stipend.

However, my dream job would be a liberal arts physics professor. I love teaching and feeling like I am making an impact directly on others (even though I agree that lab physicists make as big or a bigger difference on the world).

I know that a lot of people want to be professors, but do they want to be liberal arts professors? Would it be a staggeringly stupid decision to leave the job I enjoy now for just a chance at a job I would enjoy more in the future?

Thanks!

bfollinprm
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Re: LAC Professor Jobs after GS: also nearly impossible to get?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:23 am

Given the massive number of liberal arts schools in this country, you should be able to find work teaching at one, after you put in your due diligence at grad school and as a postdoc (probably twice), as long as you do excellent work as a grad student. Hiring at many LAC is still based on research, so don't forget to publish. You're making a very bad choice economically, however, by giving up your programming job. You'll never recoup the lost salary.

TakeruK
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Re: LAC Professor Jobs after GS: also nearly impossible to get?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:22 pm

This depends on what value you place on money and stuff like job satisfaction? bfollinprm is right when he/she says that you will never recoup the lost salary that you are currently making. Your current salary is comparable to full professor salaries at Canadian schools, and the highest salaries I've seen (all public entities report salaries of their employees who make over some amount, depending on province) can reach 150k only after decades of work and service as Deans, etc.

So you can think of it any way you want, using whatever basis for currency you want, but you are basically either trading money for increased job satisfaction.

Maybe the grass is greener on the other side, but personally, the main reason for me to go to grad school is to find a decent job that I enjoy, with a professor position as the "dream job". But I'd be happy with any job that I enjoy that will feed my future family. If I was in your shoes, I'd pat myself on the back and say "mission complete" (in terms of finding a good job that makes me happy) and then go on enjoying life :P But that's just me!

vicente
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Re: LAC Professor Jobs after GS: also nearly impossible to get?

Postby vicente » Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:13 pm

I'd also like information about what the job prospects are for people with Physics Ph.D's trying to get teaching jobs. I'm one of those people who would rather have a modestly paying job that I enjoy doing (teaching) than go for a finance job making six figures a year that I hate. Teaching at a LAC would be ideal for me, but is it true that there are like 10 job-seekers per job available?

bfollinprm
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Re: LAC Professor Jobs after GS: also nearly impossible to get?

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:47 pm

vicente wrote:I'd also like information about what the job prospects are for people with Physics Ph.D's trying to get teaching jobs. I'm one of those people who would rather have a modestly paying job that I enjoy doing (teaching) than go for a finance job making six figures a year that I hate. Teaching at a LAC would be ideal for me, but is it true that there are like 10 job-seekers per job available?


Yes, about that. Which is actually quite low for academia in general; in philosophy it's like 300 applications/position. If you aren't picky, though, and spend possibly a few years as a visiting professor/lecturer (a job that pays worse than teaching high school, and probably your future postdoc), you should land a job somewhere in the plethora of LAC's dotting this country. Maybe not a top ranked one, but we can't all work at Swarthmore. Again, however, at least the top tier of LAC's don't hire teachers, they hire quality researchers with a gift for teaching, so don't forget to publish!

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twistor
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Re: LAC Professor Jobs after GS: also nearly impossible to get?

Postby twistor » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:06 pm

I enjoyed doing research in school, but I also do enjoy working as a programmer now. Plus the ~100k/yr is way more appealing than a graduate stipend.


Teach at a community college. Don't quit your job and waste time studying physics.

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Andromeda
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Re: LAC Professor Jobs after GS: also nearly impossible to get?

Postby Andromeda » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:40 am

I have a friend from undergrad who bailed the PhD Physics program with her M.S. and is now teaching in some small LAC as an adjunct, so you don't even necessarily need a PhD to do it (granted I'm sure that gives you a lot more job security).

Also important to note, if you have a M.S. (or even an undergrad background if you're enthusiastic) consider private high schools as well, where you can work with motivated students in a great environment and likely the advanced courses are the level you'd be teaching at the LAC anyway (as most of them just need first year undergrad physics in both cases). For example I have a cousin who works in one of the swanky boarding schools in New England and that place looks better than many a college campus and has amazing resources- she keeps asking me to teach physics there if I ever get bored of what I'm doing now, and there are definite moments where I'm tempted.




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