Monday, February 08, 2010

Job Outlook for Theoretical High Energy Physicists Sucks

In case you missed Peter Woit's blog entry, or Erich Poppitz latest data, you might want to read a summary of it here.

I've always stressed the issue of "employability" when students asked me about majoring in various areas of physics. While this is not an issue when students first get into grad school, it will be a huge issue when they graduate and looking for jobs. This doesn't mean that one shouldn't go into areas such as theoretical high energy physics. It means that one needs to be aware of the challenges when doing such a thing and be prepared for not finding the job that one wants. There has to be a backup plan in anything, and more so when one is specializing in an area with very limited employability.



Joseph Smidt said...

This is a great point and a major reason why I entered cosmology. To me cosmology is just as interesting as particle physics (in some sense there is a lot of interplay between the communities) and yet at the same time it is much easier to find a job as a cosmologist.

s.espo said...

Thanks for being so honest! I'm not really interested in going into particle physics (I guess thankfully so!) but I have some friends that are always dreaming of it. I've been saying that the job outlook for that specialty sucks for a while now, but no one wants to listen.

Joseph Smidt said...

"but no one wants to listen."

Isn't that the truth. Here at Irvine there are so many people who what to do High Energy particle physics that there is a scare that there isn't going to be enough TA positions. (They often have to TA as there is not much else for funding).

I was even told by one professor the funding situation (at that time maybe it has changed) is so bad some people may have to get an outside job to pay for graduate school.

However, this doesn't seem stop anyone!

s.espo said...

For some reason I feel like that's what every physics major wants to do... I don't know why, honestly. I mean the stuff is very interesting, but I wouldn't say it's especially interesting -- or more interesting than any other topic. I wonder if it's things like the LHC that attract so many students. I hate to hear about bad employment at any level in the scientific community, but I people need to start facing the music..