Welcome to the future. It’s 2022 and the nearly $1 billion quantum computing industry has grown from a hobby project for forward-thinking physicists to a thriving B2B industry. Experts predict that the market for quantum technologies quadruple in value by 2029.
Simply put, there’s never been a better time than now for potential job seekers to take part in what could be the biggest technological revolution since the advent of the internet. But what if you don’t have a PhD in physics or experience in quantum research?
Do not worry. 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 push towards useful innovation puts the industry on the verge of a period of massive growth.
This article will give you a brief overview of current and expected opportunities in the quantum industry, and what you need to know to take advantage of them.
(Wikimedia Commons: “A zoom in on a D-Wave quantum computer wafer”)
There are at least a dozen companies in Europe developing hardware solutions for quantum computing applications. And, on the other side of the coin, there are dozens of companies working on quantum components, operating systems, software and applications. All of this means that we are going to need a lot of human power, and not just masters or doctorates.
This information comes from a report from venture capitalist and analyst Alex Kiltz, who also says the European Union will nearly match US government spending by 2028. Even more interestingly, Kiltz says Germany will spend almost twice as much over the same period.
All of this points to a potential employment boom for certain specialties adjacent to the field. While it is certainly true that the quantum industry will need a lot of quantum physicists, it is fair to say that almost all STEM categories will be in high demand in the future.
Theoretical physicists tend to work with mathematicians and computer scientists in the early stages of quantum computing research and development. And, when it comes to building the actual computers, not only does that require engineers with specialties ranging from cryogenics to lasers, but there’s also the development of the software and algorithms that the machines will use to demonstrate the computation. .
Finally, once a quantum computer is deployed, it requires an advanced computing team to operate. If it exists on-premises, for large customers such as government agencies, the site will need to house a team of scientists, engineers, and machine learning specialists to ensure the system runs smoothly. And, if the system is configured for cloud access, it requires a similar IT team as well as someone who can operate the cloud infrastructure as well.
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, Glassdoor says the average salary for a quantum computing engineer is around $125,000 per year. There’s money to be made on the cutting edge, that’s for sure.
(Wikimedia Commons: A dilution refrigerator at the London Center for Nanotechnology)
A quantum education
There are basically four ways to get involved from the inside in the quantum computing revolution:
- Obtain a PhD/MSc in theoretical physics or a relevant engineering program with a particular focus on quantum technologies.
- Earn a STEM degree in almost any adjacent field, making sure to take a few quantum physics-related courses as well.
- Apply or acquire related STEM skills and qualifications.
- Invest in quantum technology companies and startups.
The first may be the longest, but it’s also the safest route. It’s hard to find precise numbers for the EU, but in the US, experts expect overall employment of physicists to grow by 8% between 2021 and 2031, a faster pace than any other. occupations.
Due to the current size and rate of investment in quantum technology of the EU and its individual member countries, it is safe to say that Europe should experience a similar need for new physicists.
Those who wish to fill this void can still apply to one of the prestigious schools on the continent. Not only Europe produces most physicists in the worldbut Denmark even has the distinction of producing the most per capita, with 635 higher education graduates per year and per million inhabitants.
But, as mentioned above, you don’t have to be a physicist to get in on the action. Those who plan to pursue a college education 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, said recently Symmetry, “Companies are eager to hire people from traditional engineering schools with expertise and knowledge in various classic fields such as photonics and software engineering. With just one or two extra courses in quantum science, they would be well prepared for a job in this field.
Some areas of study to consider:
- Applied mathematics
- Artificial intelligence / machine learning
- Higher engineering degrees
The third option is a bit more nebulous. Those already working in STEM or autodidacts with a penchant for learning complex paradigms could, at least in theory, learn to program quantum systems through one of the many open source projects available.
There is a widespread need for skilled quantum programmers and machine learning specialists who are proficient in both Kikit and Tensor Flow. You may be able 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.
Finally, you can always board the quantum train by opening your wallet. There are many state-owned quantum technology companies and more are popping up all the time. It is beyond the scope of this article (or its author) to give financial advice, but here is a list of 24 Examples of Quantum Stocks you can potentially invest. You can also get involved in the quantum VC stage and also fund one of dozens of startups in Europe.
(Wikimedia Commons: A 128-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum optimization processor from D-Wave)
Our quantum future
Once you have acquired relevant training and/or references, your job prospects in the quantum field will largely depend on your geography. Candidates in China, the United States and Europe will tend to be ahead of those in other countries, but the rise of remote work has done a lot to level the playing field.
It should also be noted that high demand is often accompanied by high-quality competition for the most prestigious spots. Fortunately, the outlook is still quite bright. A recent study conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers revealed that the quantum technology industry is likely to present many opportunities for specialists, but those with a traditional STEM background not focused on quantum technologies would still be considered in high demand by companies of the sector. The same researchers also indicated that this would apply equally to undergraduate degree holders as well as to doctorate holders.
The majority of this article has focused on How? ‘Or’ What you can be part of the booming industry of quantum technologies. Now let’s focus on Why you would like to build quantum computers or adjacent technology.
Apart from being a lucrative field of study at the cutting edge of STEM, the quantum computing industry is also a robust platform for far-future technologies. Sure, there are other industries where you can make a lot of money, but working in quantum potentially means solving some of the biggest mysteries in the universe.
Supercomputers and advanced machine learning algorithms have brought us to the dawn of understanding the quantum nature of the universe. We could be about to figure it out wormholes, black matterand the exact size of the universeand quantum technology could push us over the edge.
We will also need computers and quantum sensors to take particle accelerators, fusion experiments and artificial intelligence to the next level. And who knows what else they will do? We are at the very beginning of quantum technology. This means that we are as capable of understanding the potential future uses of quantum in 2022 as computer scientists were of predicting the iPhone in the 1950s.
In the meantime, companies currently involved in the quantum industry are developing new uses for the technology at an increasing rate. Quantum sensors are currently used in various fields, from construction to pharmaceutical chemistry, and hybrid quantum computers are used to speed up processes in the maritime, pharmaceutical and energy industries.
As new hardware technologies are developed, along with the operating systems, software, and algorithms needed to run them, these opportunities are only expected to increase. Eventually, quantum computing will affect almost every industry in Europe in one way or another.
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