Welcome in the future. The year is 2022 and the nearly multi-billion dollar quantum computing sector has evolved from a passion project for forward-thinking physicists to a thriving B2B industry. Experts forecast the market for quantum technologies Quadruple value by 2029.
Simply put, there has never been a better time than now for potential job seekers to take part in what is arguably the greatest technological revolution since the advent of the internet. But what if you don’t have a PhD in physics or a background in quantum research?
Don’t fret. The world of quantum technologies will require much more than just project managers and theoretical physicists in the coming decades and beyond. Especially in Europe, where the urge for useful innovations is pushing the industry to the brink a massive period of growth.
This article will give you a brief overview of the current and anticipated opportunities in the quantum industry and what you need to know to take advantage of them.
(Wikimedia Commons: “A zoom on a wafer of D-Wave quantum computers”)
There are at least a dozen companies in Europe developing hardware solutions for quantum computing applications. And on the other side of this coin there are dozens of companies working on components, operating systems, software and quantum applications. All of this means that we will need a lot of human power, and not just those with masters or PhD degrees.
This information comes from a report by venture capitalist and analyst Alex Kiltz, who also says the European Union will nearly match US government spending by 2028. Even more interesting is that Kiltz says Germany will spend almost twice as much over the same period.
All of this points to a potential employment boom for certain field-adjacent specialties. While it’s true that the quantum industry will need lots of quantum physicists, it’s fair to say that almost every STEM category will be in high demand going forward.
Theoretical physicists usually work together with mathematicians and computer scientists in the early stages of research and development of quantum computers. And when it comes to building the actual computers, it takes not only engineers with specialties from cryogenics to lasers, but also the development of the software and the algorithms that the machines use to demonstrate calculations.
After all, after deploying a quantum computer, an advanced IT team is required to operate it. If it exists on-premises, for large customers like government agencies, the site needs to house a team of scientists, engineers, and machine learning specialists to ensure the system is running properly. And once the system is set up for cloud access, it requires a similar IT team plus someone who can also run the cloud infrastructure.
The people responsible for building, deploying, maintaining and operating these systems will be pioneers working at the cutting edge of technology. If that’s not enough of an incentive, Glassdoor says the average salary for a quantum computing engineer is about $125,000 per year. There is sure to be money to be made at the top.
(Wikimedia Commons: A dilution refrigerator at the London Center for Nanotechnology)
A quantum formation
There are four main ways to participate in the quantum computing revolution from the inside:
- Obtain a PhD/Masters in Theoretical Physics or a relevant engineering program with a specific focus on quantum technologies.
- Get a STEM degree in almost any adjoining field and make sure you take some quantum physics-related courses as well.
- Apply or gain related STEM skills and qualifications.
- Invest in quantum technology companies and startups.
The first way may take the longest, but it is also the safest way. It’s difficult to find specific figures for the EU, but in the US, experts expect total employment for physicists to grow by a whopping 8% between 2021 and 2031 – a faster rate than any other profession.
Because the current size and rate of investment in quantum technology Of the EU and its individual member states, it is safe to say that Europe should have a similar need for new physicists.
Those wishing to fill this gap can always apply to one of the most prestigious schools on the continent. Europe doesn’t just produce most physicists in the worldbut Denmark even has the distinction of producing the most per capita, with 635 college graduates per year per million population.
But as mentioned above, you don’t actually have to be a physicist to take part. Those pursuing graduate degrees in almost any STEM field can increase their chances of working in the quantum sector without straying too far from their core disciplines.
As Celia Merzbacher, executive director of the Quantum Economic Development Consortium, recently told Symmetry: “Companies are looking to hire people who come out of traditional engineering schools and have expertise and knowledge in various classic fields such as photonics and software development. With just an additional course or two on quantum science, they would be well prepared for a job in this field.”
Some areas of study to consider:
- Applied Mathematics
- computer science
- Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
- Advanced engineering degrees
The third option is a little more nebulous. Those already working in STEM, or self-taught with a penchant for learning complex paradigms, could learn, at least in theory, how to program quantum systems through one of the many open-source projects available.
There is a widespread need for competent quantum programmers and machine learning specialists who can do both Qiskit and TensorFlow. It’s possible to get the right certifications without spending much more than the cost of your internet access, but you could find yourself competing with college graduates for positions at larger companies.
After all, you could hop on the quantum train at any time by opening your wallet. There are numerous public quantum technology outfits out there, and more are popping up all the time. It’s beyond the scope of this article (or its author) to provide financial advice, but here’s a list of it 24 Examples of Quantum Stocks in which you can potentially invest. You could also get involved the quantum VC scene and also finance one of the dozens of startups in Europe.
(Wikimedia Commons: A 128-Qubit Superconducting Adiabatic Quantum Optimization Processor by D-Wave)
Our quantum future
Once you have acquired relevant background and/or credentials, your employment prospects in the quantum field will depend largely on your geographic location. Candidates in China, the US and Europe will tend to have an edge over those in other countries, but the rise of remote work has done much to level the playing field.
It is also worth noting that high demand is often accompanied by high-profile competition for the most prestigious spots. Fortunately, the prospects are still quite rosy. A Recent study Conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, the study found that the quantum technology industry would likely offer many opportunities for specialists, but those with traditional STEM education that are not focused on quantum technologies would still be seen as in high demand by companies in the industry. The same researchers also pointed out that this would apply to both those with bachelor’s degrees and graduate students.
Most of this article has focused on that how You can become a part of the burgeoning industry of quantum technologies. Now let’s shift that focus to why You want to build quantum computers or related technologies.
Aside from being a lucrative area of study at the forefront of STEM, the quantum computing industry is also a robust platform for far-future technologies. Sure, there are other industries that can make a lot of money, but working in the quantum realm potentially means solving some of the greatest mysteries of the universe.
Supercomputers and advanced machine learning algorithms have put us on the cusp of understanding the quantum nature of the universe. Perhaps we are close to understanding wormholes, Dark matterand the exact size of the universeand quantum technology could push us over the edge.
We will also need quantum computers and sensors to take particle accelerators, fusion experiments and artificial intelligence to the next level. And who knows what they will do next? We are still in the infancy of quantum technology. This means we can understand the potential future applications of quanta in 2022 the way computer scientists did in the 1950s when they predicted the iPhone.
Meanwhile, companies currently operating in the quantum industry are increasingly developing new applications for the technology. Quantum sensors are currently used in a variety of fields, from construction to pharmaceutical chemistry, and hybrid quantum computers are used to speed up processes in the shipping, pharmaceutical and energy industries.
As new hardware technologies develop, as well as the operating systems, software, and algorithms required to run them, these opportunities should only increase. Ultimately, quantum computing will affect almost every industry in Europe in some way.