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  1. #21
    / nonsequitur's Avatar
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    ^ Isn't that highly dependent on what your research was about? For e.g., if you did a PhD in quantum physics or astrophysics, I doubt either universities (unless you were outstanding) or big business would want to hire you.

    Also, I did my honours in biophysics (granted, more bio than physics), and never heard of such demand (whether in industry or academia)... It sounds like your prof was trying to sell you grad school.

  2. #22
    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluebell View Post
    If you're in the sciences, and particularly if you do lab or field work, you do kinda need to be able to work in a team and collaborate.

    What non sequitur said is pretty accurate. She and I are both in Australia though, and from what I've heard, it's less cut-throat in Australia than in the US. And the publish or perish drive is really strong. Funding and jobs are strongly tied to your publishing record.
    Just to clarify, the nature of lab work highly depends on the lab you're in. If you are in a small size lab with only 1 or 2 grad students (as in my case) much of your work IS independently conducted.

    From the Canadian perspective, after PhD, your chances of getting a post doc position here isn't that high... not to speak of getting an associate prof position. It's something along the lines of 1-3% making it to the tenure-track position...
    My stuff (design & other junk) lives here: http://nnbox.ca

  3. #23

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    In relation to Ph. D.'s in physics, something I'm looking into myself:

    Salaries For PhD Physicists and Related Scientists during Spring 2004

    Academic Sector........................Typical Salaries..........Median Age
    University 9-10 Month Salary............$60,000 - 96,000.........48
    University 11-12 Month Salary...........$59,000 - 110,000........48
    4 Year College 9-10 Month Salary........$49,000 - 68,000.........46


    Not terrible.

    Academic rank.......................................Typical Salaries
    Professor 9-10 Month Salary.........................$78,000 - 112,000
    Professor 11-12 Month Salary........................$100,000 - 150,000

    Associate Professor 9-10 Month Salary...............$58,000 - 78,000
    Associate Professor 11-12 Month Salary..............$71,000 - 100,000

    Assistant Professor 9-10 Month Salary...............$48,000 - 62,000
    Assistant Professor 11-12 Month Salary..............$50,000 - 70,000


    Research Faculty
    Postdocs within 2 years from PhD....................$35,000 - 42,000
    Postdocs 2-3 years from PhD.........................$35,000 - 45,000
    Postdocs 3-4 years from PhD.........................$36,000 - 45,000
    Other Research faculty..............................$50,000 - 76,000


    Also, not terrible.

    Industry jobs pay more. Medical related industry jobs still more.

    I wonder what a combination of having an M.S.E.E. and a Ph.D. in Physics would fetch, since the M.S.E.E. is rather lucrative in itself.

    I guess I'm not sweating getting placement because I know I can go back to being an electrical or software engineer if needed.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  4. #24
    Reigning Bologna Princess Rajah's Avatar
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    I'm in a Ph.D. program for mass communications/media law. The publish or perish drive is huge, even just as a grad student. We're definitely expected to publish and go to conference as much as possible before we hunt for jobs. It's a lot of pressure already.

    Mostly, it's a pretty collaborative environment. There are some profs who are backstabby, though. I've seen one steamroll over people for kicks. And the politics are odd. I hate this part of academia a lot.


    I... suppose. Yeah!

  5. #25
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    ^ Isn't that highly dependent on what your research was about? For e.g., if you did a PhD in quantum physics or astrophysics, I doubt either universities (unless you were outstanding) or big business would want to hire you.

    Also, I did my honours in biophysics (granted, more bio than physics), and never heard of such demand (whether in industry or academia)... It sounds like your prof was trying to sell you grad school.

    It sounds like you don't know what the hell you're talking abou if you think businesses don't want Ph.Ds in QM, :P

    QM is the most important subfield of physics at this point.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    It sounds like you don't know what the hell you're talking abou if you think businesses don't want Ph.Ds in QM, :P

    QM is the most important subfield of physics at this point.
    With an aditional background in solid state, the semiconductor industry would love someone with a background in QM--Especially as they push past the 32nm technology node.

    With a good backround in manufacturing in addition, there are a lot of startrups working on Green Technology.

    It's a little like saying that a pure Math B.Sc. is not worth anything. When you learn something very fundamental, you have very flexible and general purpose knowledge. Math majors are hired into Software positions quite often, often at much higher salaries than their computer engineering peers.

    They are also hired into operations research, and various other things. Again, because they learned things that are very fundamental and therefore have very flexible skills.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    It sounds like you don't know what the hell you're talking abou if you think businesses don't want Ph.Ds in QM, :P

    QM is the most important subfield of physics at this point.
    Really? Now I really wish that I was better at math. Doesn't take away my point though - that employability is largely based on the specialised skills that depends on your area of research.

    Ygolo, do you have stats on the proportion of postdocs who make it to tenured positions? I've always been curious about that, but don't have anything beyond anecdotal evidence.

    Edited to add:
    Similar thread here: Graduate School = Postdoc = Faculty | Graduate Students | LibraryThing
    Association of Postdocs: C&EN: EDUCATION - WHAT'S UP, POSTDOC?


    Seems that the proportion of physics PhDs who make tenure track is relatively high in the US.


    Postdocs are still paid relatively crap compared to Aussie postdocs though.


    Stats backed up what I said about Biophysics being low in demand.

    Wish that they had a similar site for biological sciences.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Really? Now I really wish that I was better at math. Doesn't take away my point though - that employability is largely based on the specialised skills that depends on your area of research.

    Ygolo, do you have stats on the proportion of postdocs who make it to tenured positions? I've always been curious about that, but don't have anything beyond anecdotal evidence.
    Oh, I doubt it's a large percentage. I haven't found the stats in anything official. I remember reading some places between 1%-2%.

    But the main point I was making is that people shouldn't get hung up on working in "their field." Only something like 20% of the people employed in the U.S. work in a field "related" to their major.

    Many of the managers I have at work (a bunch of Electrical Engineers) majored in Physics. We have Chemistry and Biology majors working as Circuit and Mask designers as well.

    I understand that a Ph. D. is a pretty big commitment, and perhaps you'd like to stick to that field. But many of our big-shot managers and researchers were Ph. D.'s in physics, chemistry, physical chemistry, and material science--despite the fact that the groups are basically engineering groups.

    There will be demand in new industries that come up in the next decade. The critical thinking skills developed in any Ph.D. program is more important than the actual knowledge you gain. Just go to where the new stuff is once you're done and see how your experience can help that program along. That's what I believe theese older managers did when semiconductors and microprocessors were new, and that's what I plan to do when I graduate.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  9. #29
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    ^

    I'm dubious on that point, especially for PhDs. It's difficult to get into something completely unrelated for a postdoc or industry position... especially since your employers will have to pay more for a starting salary compared to, say, a fresh BSc. or Masters graduate who has suitable background. It doesn't make financial sense, and most postdocs whom I've spoken to have said as much. In fact, they told me to do a masters instead of a PhD if I intended to go into industry!

    It is a lot worse for academia. There are jokes about "inbred" academics (who never venture beyond their very narrow/specialised areas), but the fact is that a PhD grad in biochemistry is never going to get an academic position with the physical chemistry department, even if they are (theoretically) related fields. Critical thinking skills are definitely a big plus in grad school, but they don't really play a role in determining where you can work.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    ^

    I'm dubious on that point, especially for PhDs. It's difficult to get into something completely unrelated for a postdoc or industry position... especially since your employers will have to pay more for a starting salary compared to, say, a fresh BSc. or Masters graduate who has suitable background. It doesn't make financial sense, and most postdocs whom I've spoken to have said as much. In fact, they told me to do a masters instead of a PhD if I intended to go into industry!

    It is a lot worse for academia. There are jokes about "inbred" academics (who never venture beyond their very narrow/specialised areas), but the fact is that a PhD grad in biochemistry is never going to get an academic position with the physical chemistry department, even if they are (theoretically) related fields. Critical thinking skills are definitely a big plus in grad school, but they don't really play a role in determining where you can work.
    Well, we certainly have different experiences regarding this. Industry is generally much more forgiving in terms of letting people move to positions they want. The "premium" for Ph.D.'s vs. Master's is only needed if you want it. There are all sort of fields that have no "experts" in them yet. That's what I meant by new fields.

    Admittedly fields like physics, math, electrical engineering, and computer science tend to focus on skills that are widely applicable, whereas Biology and Biochemistry may require a much more focused attention. Perhaps that is the root of our disagreement on this point.

    There are people who focused on statistical mechanics working on network theory, digital signal processing, non-linear control, and even as "quants" in financial engineering jobs.

    There are Group Theorists working on everything from Crystallography to Cryptography.

    Computer Scientists and Electrical Engineers are found all over the place. How many fields are not affected by computers or electronics?

    I suppose I take a "project oriented" view to work, as opposed to a "field oriented" view.

    Edit:
    I propose you take a look at the work by Simonton on Creativity in Science.

    In it he talks about the "style" of the most productive scientists, and he notes the following...
    First, creative scientists work simultaneously on a diversity of research activities. That is, at any one time they may be working on projects that are high vs. low risk, original vs. routine, empirical vs. theoretical, core vs. peripheral, and so forth. Second, creative scientists manifest heavy involvement in a variety of professional activities, such as peer review, journal reading, correspondence, professional meetings, and the like. Third and last, creative scientists actively participate in various recreational activities. These include omnivorous reading, keeping up on results in other disciplines, and intellectual or creative hobbies.
    It's all about cross-pollination.

    Also, read the advice of one of the leading academic Computer Architects:
    How to Have a Bad Career in Research/Academia (pdf)

    One of the key points here is that you are judged on your years after Ph. D. not in terms of age. "Career age" is the driving factor for the life-cycle of research scientists (in aggregate) according to Simonton's research as well.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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