Do income statistics (earnings vs. education) lie?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by dixonmassey, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    2,151
    According to the official labor statistics, people with advanced degrees (especially Ph.Ds) are making 2-4 millions $ more per their life time than HS graduates. I find it hard to believe. In my modest experience Ph.D. jobs in sciences will pay LESS than truck driving/electrician/skilled labor (on the average of course) in ones lifetime.

    Consider two 18y.o. folks A and B (both equal in their development). A decided to get a Ph.D., for example in microbiology, = 4 years in college to earn a BS (-$50K, at least). +5-8 years more in a graduate school to get a Ph.D. (if he's lucky he'll be on some kind of assistantship, so let's assume Ph.D. cost him just -$10k). A has got his Ph.D., he's found no "real" related job upon graduation (60-80% of the recent graduates could not find anything good too), he's forced to accept $26k/year postdoc and do mainly brain numbing technician job (his boss cannot hire a technician with Community college diploma for 26K; so he's using cheap Ph.D.s instead). Things turned ugly, no "real" job could be found for years, A is jumping from one 30K/no benefits postdoc to another for 3-10 years (majority of the stubborn ones do the same; those who got tired quit). Hurrah, after say 4 years of postdocing (optimistic estimate) 33y.o. A has gotten his first (optimistic estimate, most of the Ph.D.s never get to this stage) assistant professorship (roughly 50K/no life/constant stress/insane hours job/excellent weight loss). A needs to work like a horse for 6-7 years to get his tenure or get hell out. Getting a tenure is a tricky ruthless business, 30-40% of aspirants will not make it, failure to earn a tenure will make them almost unemployable in any area of the economy. Let assume A is a lucky one, he's got his 60k something associate professorship job and kept it for a while. Note, that majority of research universities pay only 30-50% of the 60K salary, the rest comes from grants A has won. In lean years (no fresh grants were won), salary of an unlucky professor may actually be on the level of that of McD worker. Then rough times has come multiple grant applications fell through, personal friction, etc. In two words, he’s forced to quit and look for another job. Bad luck here (in the best case) job search takes 1 year or more (-60K in the lost income). Finally, 45 y.o. A has landed his final 80k job (very optimistic). Note that A is an average WINNER of the Ph.D. rat race. There are roughly 3-4 LOSERS with Ph.D. for every winner. If A is doomed to be a loser (No "real" job ever was found or tenure fell through) he’ll be postdocing for 10 years until his middle aged ass will be unemployable (new fresh Ph.D. meat is ready for the consumption), he’ll be temporary lecturer for the rest of his miserable life (pays even less than postdocing), he’ll switch careers (very hard to do. Despite all education hype, real world is avoiding hiring Ph.D.s for non R&D positions at all cost.).

    Let’s look at equally gifted and hardworking B (who has an ass of steel to boot). He’s started his driving career at 18y.o. (small delivery vehicles, he’s too young to drive big rigs) his salary is roughly $10/hr (24k/year). He’s out of debt. He’s made 96k while A was taking loans to get his BS. B turned 22 y.o. he’s got his first big truck and makes $35k/year for 3-4 years. Having experience, 27 y.o. B may make up to 60k + benefits (person A is making 26k/no benefits at the same time). B is making investments, contributing to his retirement funds while A is thinking how to survive on his 26k. Add here that person B will be able to find a new job in several weeks without relocating, the person A will need to spend 1 year or more on the job search and he must relocate.
    If person B has chosen to be an electrician, he has very high chances to make 100K when he’s 33 y.o. (he’s as smart and industrious as the person A, after all).
    Etc.
    Etc.
    Etc.

    There is no way that the average WINNER of Ph.D. employment game (person A) will make more $ per life time than the average person B. If we will count all the losers with Ph.D., the income picture will become even more unfavorable towards the average folks with Ph.D. That is why statistics is misleading. It associates incomes with education only. It does not differentiate HS graduates according to their IQ, ability to work hard, people skills, etc. In other words the saying “the is a lie, a huge lie and statistics” proved itself correct again. You may say “But person A had more interesting job than person B”. I’ll say bull. 80% of Ph.D. job is much more brain numbing than truck driving. Considering rampant misuse of the fresh Ph.D.s to provide cheap laboratory labor, the % of brain numbing job is much higher for the recent victims of university industrial complex.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2004
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  3. rel Registered Member

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    Actually the high paying positions require degrees unless you own your own business and thats all brain/innovation

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    The scrubs just getting by working in factories or fast food places dont have education imo

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  5. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    I was "inspired" to write the above message by the sad life story of my 47 y.o. friend (Ph.D. in biochemistry). Basically, she's never made more than 40k per year in her educated life, doing educated jobs. 40k was a short lived peak before her bottom was kicked out on street (in very ugly way). Now, she's too old to do pretty much anything (yes she was postdocing until 47y.o. And 47 y.o. postdoc has not a single change on profesorship, etc.) , she's being rejected from anywhere she applies, even HS do not want her. Basically her life is seriously screwed and she'll be flipping burgers very soon (if lucky) with all her advanced education and experience. And, most sadly, she's not alone. There are tens of thousands like here in the USA. Her husband also a Ph.D. was postdocing in his 50 th. Now he's unemployed for 4! years and has cancer (no insurance too). He had been unemployed for 2 years before he knew he had cancer. Misery attracts misery, heh?

    The question is not that high paying positions require some level of education (even though simple RRR is sufficient to do most of those high paying jobs). The question is that, on the average, education (especially advanced one) is more like a gamble. If one will lose the game, the loss will be huge. If one will win game, the gain will be modest (on the average). There are many "uneducated" options for smart, industrious people (which Ph.D.s usually are) which promise more certain, more generous pay offs. For example, a brother of my friend is a salesman with HS diploma, he's making well into $100k/year (according to her). Truck drivers, electricians, plumbers, machinists, craftsmen..... may make more than 90% of the educated folks make without having their own business. If electrician career (for example) will come to the sudden halt, one may relatively easily switch careers. If Ph.D. career will not pan out (6 chances out of 10), one is screwed BIG time. I do not understand the reason why government is keeping education hype fire burning by playing with statistics. Is it just to redirect unemployed people to universities?
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I think the problem here is the typical problem with statistics: you have to be very careful how you derive them or they won't yield the perspective on the truth that you're looking for.

    For starters, just stop and consider the number of Americans who would be on the street without public assistance, and those who get it and are on the street anyway. Yes of course there are some PhDs and other college graduates in that mix -- mostly people who need psychiatric care or at least serious help, but are too "smart" to get it. Either because they think they know better than the shrinks or because they think we have the problem, not them. But speaking from the experience of decades of government work, I can assure you that about 99 percent of the people on public assistance do not have college degrees. I'd say half of them don't even have high school educations -- they may have the diplomas but they just got cranked out by the assembly line with no real learning.

    Now of course many of the people you're talking about are not on public assistance. Many are too proud, some just fail to qualify for bureaucratic reasons (unmarried men with no children might as well emigrate), some got the maximum help and once you're off the rolls the government doesn't count you in the total any more. I agree that many of that group of down-on-their-luck people are college graduates. But as big as that group is, it's nothing compared to the larger first group who is on the radar.

    I don't agree that a college degree is a handicap, especially if you pick the right major. Too many kids expect to be investment bankers, even though they can't make change for a dollar bill without a calculator. Millions are studying IT, as if they can't read the newspaper and notice that all of those jobs are rapidly migrating offshore as the American cowboy way of developing software becomes increasingly outdated. And kids who get degrees in philosophy or English or history are living in the genteel past and had better have rich parents.

    Chemical engineering is a hot degree, with biotechnology poised to become the leading industry of this century. The more technical facets of computers, such as computer science as opposed to software engineering, are also good because of the rise of nanotechnology.

    One major with an absolutely woeful need for students is the various Middle Eastern languages. I doubt very much that the world political order is going to change much in the next couple of decades, and the CIA has a several-year backlog of documents in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashto, etc. waiting for translation. People whose opinion I respect have said seriously that there's probably a document in Arabic describing the 9/11 operation in complete detail, dated August 2001, still sitting in some overworked CIA translator's in-basket.

    Isn't it interesting that people are griping that the government is basing its current anti-terrorism tactics on four-year-old information -- but nobody is asking why four-year-old information is just now being reviewed? It was all hidden in Baghdad and we just found it. Yeah sure.

    Yet I don't deny that there is way too much emphasis on a university education. It's supposed to be for the brightest and most ambitious students. If 30 percent (or whatever the number is) of high school graduates can qualify for college admission, it means the standards are way too low. You can verify that statement by noting that today the average American college graduate reads at what we used to call the sixth-grade level -- if it's something he's really interested in like sports -- otherwise fifth-grade.

    So I agree that kids should not be shoved into college as if there's no other rational choice. You suggest a job as an electrician or truck driver. Those are good choices. But I still say the number one choice for your children if you want them to have a job that in all likelihood will never be automated or offshore-outsourced is to apprentice them to a plumber. The richest man in our small town who didn't inherit his money is the oldest plumber. One of my uncles was a plumber and he was the most prosperous man in our family.

    Sure it's dirty work, but there are different kinds of dirt, and office politics and butt-kissing can get mighty dirty too. Besides, after you get established in a business of your own -- probably by buying your own master plumber's shop because he's desperate for a buyer -- you can hire your own apprentices to do the crawling and snaking while you do the skilled above-ground jobs like soldering or simply supervise.

    As someone famous said, "The society that rewards shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted occupation but ignores excellence in plumbing because it is a humble occupation is doomed. Neither its theories nor its pipes will hold water."
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2004
  8. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    2,151
    For starters, just stop and consider the number of Americans who would be on the street without public assistance, and those who get it and are on the street anyway. Yes of course there are some PhDs and other college graduates in that mix -- mostly people who need psychiatric care or at least serious help, but are too "smart" to get it. Either because they think they know better than the shrinks or because they think we have the problem, not them. But speaking from the experience of decades of government work, I can assure you that about 99 percent of the people on public assistance do not have college degrees. I'd say half of them don't even have high school educations -- they may have the diplomas but they just got cranked out by the assembly line with no real learning.

    I’d like to make it clearer. I do not argue that quitting without HS diploma is the smartest financial move one can make (sure, sometimes it’s the best move if you are Britney or clearly gifted in some other area). I’d agree that a simple BS will pay for itself in 9 out of 10 cases (eventually, at least). I am speaking about the advanced degrees (Ph.D.s). In the majority of cases getting a Ph.D. is the 2nd dumbest (after quitting HS) career/financial move one can make in the modern world. Ratio efforts/pay off, probability of success is definitely too low (on the average) to risk the best years of ones life as well as to risk the rest of your productive life (in the case of failure). That is why American graduate schools in sciences are mostly filled with foreigners from relatively poor countries (who have no better choice). Sure, if one’s dream is to become a lab rat/ famous (in very limited circles) scientist, career prospects is of secondary concern. However, for the majority it’s a primary concern. Contrary to my observations, government statistics claims that the higher your educational level the higher your lifetime earnings. Which, I deeply believe, is not the case. Rare Ph.D. will make more $ per life time than the average BS will.

    As for your example with public assistance: are those 99% without HS education on public assistance because
    a) They are “normal” humanoids but they do not have HS diploma because of the family circumstances, for example. I believe there are not many of these. One can get a GED under the adverse circumstances provided the will and $1000.
    b) they are too dysfunctional to get HS diploma in the first place. In the second case, their being on public assistance is not directly related to their educational level. Sure, probability of finding a partially dysfunctional person among people with advanced degrees is much, much less (after all, getting those degrees is a hard job requiring lots of self-control).

    I don't agree that a college degree is a handicap, especially if you pick the right major. Too many kids expect to be investment bankers, even though they can't make change for a dollar bill without a calculator. Millions are studying IT, as if they can't read the newspaper and notice that all of those jobs are rapidly migrating offshore as the American cowboy way of developing software becomes increasingly outdated. And kids who get degrees in philosophy or English or history are living in the genteel past and had better have rich parents.

    I did not claim that. College degrees still pay for itself. However, advanced college degrees bring much more modest return on investments than simple BS (in my opinion. US government has different opinion.) Penalty for failure is much more severe for the people with Ph.D.s than that for the people with BS.

    Chemical engineering is a hot degree, with biotechnology poised to become the leading industry of this century. The more technical facets of computers, such as computer science as opposed to software engineering, are also good because of the rise of nanotechnology.

    I have some firsthand knowledge to disappoint you. Chemical engineering is/was relatively hot. In the best Clinton’s years 50% chem. Eng. Grads could NOT find a job related to their education (I even do not want to think about that % in the current economy). Secondly, engineering is a game of relatively young people (i.e. rampant age discrimination). In the chemical engineering, cut off age is around 40 y.o. (and then kick in the ass). Not more than 20% of 40 something y.o. Chem. Eng. Grads (lucky to find a related job upon graduation) are still employed as Chem. Eng. It’s not that bad. If one has chosen electronics design field, his ass will be kicked out of the engineering business when he’ll turn “ripe” 35 y.o. It ‘s rough out there. As for biotech, sorry to disappoint you again. Biotech is a “mature” field it grows very slowly (in the selected job markets only). Considering looming outsourcing, even modest growth will come to the halt soon.

    If one wants seriously screw up his life, my advice: get a Ph.D. in anything with “bio” in the front (biochemistry, biology, molecular biology, whatever (except biostatistics)…..). I guarantee you (for 85% ) employment misery, 5-10 years of 26k/year postdocing, and no life outside of the lab for 15-20 best years of your life. Bio fields are the most glutted, the least paid (except few jobs in big pharma). But maybe on the bachelors level things are different.

    Despite all I said, engineering degrees still pay for itself (if one will find a related job). Even if you’ll be fired when you’ll hit 42 y.o. (with little hope of finding an engineering job again), you will earn roughly 55-60k/year (on the average) for 20 years. And then you can always drive a truck.

    One major with an absolutely woeful need for students is the various Middle Eastern languages. I doubt very much that the world political order is going to change much in the next couple of decades, and the CIA has a several-year backlog of documents in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashto, etc. waiting for translation. People whose opinion I respect have said seriously that there's probably a document in Arabic describing the 9/11 operation in complete detail, dated August 2001, still sitting in some overworked CIA translator's in-basket.

    I do not see how USA will be able to support its world empire considering its current and future economic woes. USSR could not. There is at least 1 million of Arabic speakers within USA borders already. It seems US government did/does not trust its citizens of certain origin. United we stand? Yeah right.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2004
  9. Kunax Sciforums:Reality not required Registered Senior Member

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    2,385
    jumping to the end here...

    Why should the basic worker not get as much as some dude that has been sitting in a university half his life?
    Its said workers that allows those ph.d to do there job, because without the commen workers there would be no food, no power, no housing ect, does the highly educated worker realy deserve more?
     
  10. Tracker00 Registered Senior Member

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    51
    okay, I may be making 45k as a Ph.D., but I enjoy it... i'd rather being doing this then driving a truck getting paid 60k a year.
     
  11. robtex Registered Senior Member

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    582
    good points good thread. I have seen those stats I think too Massey, but I thought they were in referrerence to earning power as opposed to actual income earned.

    Some things to consider though:

    like you said 18 yr old kid with hands is earning money right away while kid in college is not earning much and is incurring a lot of debt.

    You will be hard pressed to name a blue collar job that can be outsourced with the exception of farming.

    The fail rate at the college level is high (not sure about post grad or dr levels).

    blue collar skills are very specific whereas most college skills are general and need further training to specialize them

    In the time it takes to get even a four year degree many people could have learned 3 + blue collar skills making them multi-marketable

    blue collar skills are task oriented white collar skills are planning and strategy oriented.....one job per task but one plan for larger group.

    blue collar skills have a narrower pay scale meaning lowest paying jobs closer to higher paying jobs than white colllar job. There are some really high paying white collar jobs that blues can't match but the median and mean for blue is much stronger number wise than white

    many people with blue collar skills seem to have more transferable skills than their white collar counterparts.
     
  12. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    6,221
    Yes, it’s true that you can get a PhD and end up working very hard for little pay, or be unable to find a job at all. However it’s undeniable that on average, people with PhDs make significantly more money than people without them. Yes, you can come up with anecdotal examples of people with PhDs who are poor and people with only a highschool diploma who are wealthy; but that isn’t representative of what’s likely to happen.
    That's an extreme worst-case scenario. My undergraduate education had a net cost of about $21,000. I’m making money while getting my PhD, so by the time I graduate (assuming it takes me 4-5 years) I’ll have completely paid off my student loans and will have saved enough money to support myself for a while if I have trouble finding a job I like.
    I don’t know what the labor statistics are like for other fields, but for newly-graduated chemistry PhDs in 2003 96% were able to find work within a year of graduating, with a median starting salary of $63,000/year – which is very acceptable for a 26-27 year old, by any standard. 35% of them got jobs in academia, with a median starting salary of $41,000/year. 65% of them got jobs in industry, with a median starting salary of $73,000/year. The average salary of a PhD chemist with more than three years experience (in both industry and academia) is $77,000/year.

    The vast majority of people without higher education aren’t likely to make anywhere near that amount of money. Even people with a bachelor’s degree aren’t likely to do so well by that age.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2004
  13. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    I really do not know where you have discovered your chemistry Ph.D.s statistics. Probably university counselor's info. tuned to make a sale, or some professional association's info (which, by definition, counts only those who's doing OK and better than OK). Nobody is doing universal statistics like that in the USA, nobody. Whatever data are out there are very skewed, incomplete and not reliable. I rely solely on my personal experiences.

    I have worked in a national lab. Dozens of chemistry Ph.D.s were postdocing there for quite a number of years before going to yet another postdoc (mostly). Such a "love" to the $40k-something postdocing is explained only by the lousy job market. I can count very few folks who have gotten a real job after 2-4 years of the slaving. Consider for the future the "rule of thumb": national labs pay (much) more to postdocs (+benefits) than universities do (usually without benefits), so $41k/yr median salary for the fresh chemistry Ph.D.s in academia (mostly in postdoc spots, where else?) sounds totally unrealistic. if postdocing in a national lab does not do people much good (careerwise) after 2-4 years, I just can imagine the plight of those in some G*d forgotten 2 nd tier universities. It could be that they almost all were foreign born, it's tougher for foreign born folks to find a real job.

    Science world (in Academia, at least) has been divided/is being divided in two uneven parts: tenured nobility and peons (much more numerous). Examples of Ph.D.s career going sour are not anecdotal they are everywhere. Space on the top is limited, as you know. You'll live, you'll see.
    BTW, 50% of teaching/ research staff in American universities are temporary low wage (on par with McD) adjuncts, lecturers, constantly visiting something researchers, etc. Sure, smart hardworking people usually find a way to jump the Ph.D. career boats one way or another and make a decent living eventually (there is even book publishing industry associated with making such a jump). But, what does their eventual success have to with their Ph.D.s? Pretty much nothing. Had they avoided Ph.D. programs in the first place, they could have been x times more successful (financially).

    The world of higher paying/harder to get ino industrial research has its own pitfalls. #1. Frequent layoffs/year long job searches. #2. Age discrimination #3. Shrinking Private R&D and outsourcing. #4. Lots of pressure to deliver results. No time/resources to make sense out of results i.e. trial and error science (to do which one does not really need to have any Ph.D. or even BS, just common sense + some experience). it's hard to believe in the bright prospects of chemistry Ph.D.s knowing that Dupont/General Electrics/GM/Bell Labs cut their R&D stuff almost each year.


    Rare Ph.D. (in the Ph.D. career track) will make more than equally talented BS (who had senses to stop at BS or masters). Your statistics is quite unreal and goes against common sense. Let’s not compare 2.0 GPA BS with a Ph.D. Let's compare bright 3.9 GPA BS with the average Ph.D. I am quite sure who'll lose. Simply consider this: fresh BS in engineering (lucky to find a job) will most likely make more $ then an assistant professor who taught him (not to speak of lecturers, adjuncts, and other miserable beings). Lucky/smart 21 y.o. BS can earn 50K-60K; his more evolved, average Ph.D. minded friend will make $50K in his 30th or even 40th, or never. Depending on a field. For example, Ph.D.s in biology with 15 years of experience make whopping 48k/year on the average. Better type "Ph.D. glut" or a similar search phrase in google and expand your horizons. Search in googles groups if you want more informal info.

    Consider universities as big sweatshops, which need cheap labor=graduate students, postdocs, etc. to keep grant getting/teaching machine running. Universities simply do not give a damn about job market. Output of Ph.D.s is completely disengaged from market. It's related only to NSF budget (which never was cut yet). Say, this year a university departments needs 20 Research assistants and 10 teaching assistants to keep the research cheap, publish more papers, and get more $ in the future. That means that 30 new graduate students will be enrolled and graduated. Luckily, there are plenty of foreign applicants to fill the spots. As a result, Ph.D. glut is growing every single year. Notice, job market does not grow. So, where do those extra souls go? Basically, advanced diplomas are becoming "quasi" money universities pay to their TA/RAs in addition to their meager assistantships.

    96% of the fresh Ph.D.s in chemistry were able to find a RELATED to their education, Ph.D. requiring work within a year of graduating??? That number is totally unrealistic. Quite a number of Ph.D.s settle on the jobs which do not care (luckily) whatsoever about their Ph.D.s. ALL but one of my acquaintance have gotten good jobs which did not require their Ph.D.s, period. Is their income due to their Ph.D.s? Hell no. It was butt pain for them to get those jobs namely because of their degrees. (Real world does not like Ph.D.s in any but lab rat capacity, remember about that).

    Here comes another group of well paid Ph.D.s. Folks who's made their careers (and $) in a non Ph.D. capacity sometimes feel urge to earn a Ph.D. Sometimes companies send their good older employees to get a Ph.D. and pay for it (but those times are almost gone). Is their income due to their Ph.D.?


    If you are a Ph.D. student in chemistry, if you are not a full time student on assistantship doing research "24/7", 4-5 years is somewhat optimistic estimate (if you are in a good school). But maybe you'll manage. You should have some residency time, when you are not allowed to keep a job outside of the university. But people find ways how to circumvent that rule. Ph.D. will cost you some $ ($400-.../credit hours x 50..hrs, at least). You must be doing quite OK to live well (I guess), pay off your loans, save $, and pay for your Ph.D. If you are doing that good, I doubt possessing a Ph.D. will change your life much to the better (financially). Sure, if you like chemistry more than your life, monetary/career considerations are not #1 concern (for some time, at least). Just remember, providence (by means of me) warned you (just kidding).

    Personally, I have problems with "what kind of jobs" Ph.D.s, on the research career track, are forced/encouraged to do. For me, monetary considerations are not #1 yet. However, I cannot stand deliberate futility, doing meaningless research solely for the milking of a grant cow, wasting lots of time on multiple proposal writing, writing countless semi-useless papers to survive, hyping BS up, continuous "used car sales". In two words, I do not belong to the world of the government sponsored research and academia where the skills in the above mentioned fields are a must. May be my judgment of the research field is tilted somewhat. But, I have tried to be objective in my writings.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2004
  14. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    2,151
    Resources for Sci & Tech Jobs, Careers, Career Transitioning, Graduate School, and the PhD Degree
    formerly scientistlifeboat.com
    Contemporary Problems in Science Jobs, 4th Edition

    (Excellent source of real career info for aspiring scientists. Read it now, it will help to clear things out, to plan career , etc. No matter what one will decide (to jump the Ph.D. boat or rough it through), the info is useful.)

    http://scijobs.freeshell.org/
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2004
  15. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    6,221
    In virtually all math and physical science graduate programs the students pay no tuition – it’s covered by the department at no cost to the student. My actual out-of-pocket cost is about $1,000/year. About half of that is buying textbooks and half goes to B.S. fees that the university makes everyone pay – parking decal fees, activity fees, ‘matriculation’ fees, etc. Of course there are plenty of other expenses (rent, car insurance, etc.) but that’s the sort of thing that you’ll be paying whether or not you’re a student.

    On top of that, nearly all students receive roughly $15,000-$25,000/year. Not all schools fall into that range, but most do. You can make significantly more than that if you manage to get a nice fellowship or attach yourself to a very well-funded research project. I have a friend who’s getting paid $30,000/year to get his PhD in math, but that’s abnormally high.

    Anyway, my point is that most science PhD students don’t really have to pay any money for the degree, and are well-supported by their department while they’re a student.
     
  16. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

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    24,066
    There are far more PhD's trained than there are academic positions. That is a simple fact. Career opportunities are therefore rather limited in the academic world.

    Of course people would like you to think that doing a PhD in for instance biology trains you also for the private sector, let's say the biolotechnology companies.

    That is of course total bullshit. Here in finland the companies prefer to hire people that just have their masters. Why? Because they aren't fucked up yet for the businessworld. You acquire certain skills during doing a PhD, but none of them are really business orientated. In fact most skills you learn are exactly the opposite of what biotechnology companies are after.

    The situation here is that PhD student are basically cheap labour. You can kick them out whenever you want to. You can give them a grant, which is much more economical than poper wages. And sadly enough most are treated as if they are technicians.

    If you also have a medical degree it can be advantagous to do a PhD. For certain specializations it is beneficial or even a requirement to have research experience.

    In conclusion. There are too many PhD trained (on purpose). There is no secure future in having a PhD. Often it can even be held against you on the job market.
     
  17. dckbili Registered Member

    Messages:
    5
    I know many people with Ph D's , They make only an average of $40,000 and are 25-50% of the time unemployed and/or scared they'll be canned soon. Having their butts exploited in graduate school by greedy professors. It only gets better after graduation when they go and do post-docs. During graduate school and post-doc positions you probably are going to be required to work from 7am to 7pm , that's if your boss is nice and considerate. The U.S. government screwed up. They said , we are going to need a bunch of Ph D's to meet the demands. Then the USSR dissappeared. All the Russian Scientists came here. Add to that the Indians, the Chinesse , the Argentinians etc...
    In less than 9 years the Ph D's supply tripled. Now the American PhD graduates better go and flip burgers , because there is no way Miraslov Pukokukava is going to retire any soon.
    If you are thinking of studying because there is a big demand for it. Don't worry. The government is going to import whatever it needs before you finish your studies. But ok let's say you finish your studies. It doesn't matter anyway the government is going to find a way to saturate that employment market.
    Let's say the government is in need of 200,000 nano-tech scientists. Well they'll aprove 1million nano-tech visas and there you go. Your PhD in nano-technology is worth nothing.
    Your employment success rate with an advanced degree is the same as with a high school education.
    Education definetly helps, but it should be pursued only in a part-time basis.
    From the educated people, you only hear the good stories. The poor bastards that are unemployed with PhD's are too ashamed to come out and say , Hey I have a PhD and I am unemployed, It's just too embarassing.
    So you only hear the good stories. I know a lot of PhD's and I know a lot of truckers and gardeners. Guess who makes more money?
    From my observation:
    10% of PhD's make more than 100K for sure after 10 years experience
    90% of the other sorry ass PhD's make only $40k that's as instructors, post-docs , research associates etc..
    As a just in case tool.

    Truckers
    50% of the truckers make more than 60K for sure
    10% make more than 130K a year for sure
    40% make like 25K a year but they work an average of 2 days a week compare that to sorry ass PhD's that work 7 days a week.

    Gardeners
    100% make no less than 200 bucks a day, compare that to the PhD's that only make like 100 a day if they are lucky. but they still have to bust their asses.

    My conclusion is that education is very important. But it does not guarantees a job.
    Treat studies like the tv watching or junk food eating. Too much of it is harmful.
     
  18. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    6,221
    Would you care to cite some actual statistics, rather than just making them up to support your argument? I can give you study after study showing that people with advanced degrees on average make significantly more money. I very seriously doubt that you can produce any evidence to back your claims.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2004
  19. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    2,151
    Nasor, government studies are bull, they are going against common sense and experience of many (if not majority) of Ph.D.s. Have you read this thread perfunctory to understand why I think those studies are bull? Have you investigated metodology of those studies? As chemist told: "Ph.D. losers are too ashamed to come forward and admit their career/financial failures". OK, you may continue trusting rosy info of government; but, man, if you are a Ph.D. student you'll see (more likely than not) what we mean here. I wish you to be among few successful ($/career wise) Ph.D.s though. You are right there are quite a few of those. The question is: "What is the ratio losers/achievers?". Good luck!
     
  20. GRO$$ Registered Senior Member

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    304
    What a crock-load of shit. If it doesn't take much work to be a CEO, then why is no-one offering anyone the job for $24k? Why don't you start your own company then, pay yourself $24k and you'll be able to compete with those wasteful CEO's... Hard, smart work always pays off. The only ones to say otherwise are the ones that haven't done any.

    dixonmassey- counterexample to your friend: my family came to the US 9 years ago because my father (PhD) was offered a job earning <30k. He is now doing the same kind of work making >100k. To say he is a hard worker, however, is a gross understatement. He loves his job, and he does it well. Maybe your friend's heart just wasn't in the work she was doing, I mean, just having a PhD doesn't mean much... I think everyone knew those kids in school that got all of the A's, but didn't actually comprehend any of the material. Well, that's the kind of stuff that matters in real life, PhD or no PhD, and grades can't measure that, but people can, and so can $.
     
  21. GRO$$ Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    304
    Whoever takes advice from these forums is going to be one fucked up individual... No, don't treat studies like TV watching and junk food eating. Treat them as the opposite: sometimes it's not about balancing things, sometimes it's about heading towards an extreme. The less TV you watch the better, same with junk food. I've never heard of a person saying 'damn, I wish I'd eaten more junk food when I was younger'. The more you study, the more you learn, the more you can produce when you work. More productivity = more $. Pretty simple stuff. PhD or no PhD, people that produce get compensated, people that don't, don't.

    Insightful made-up statistic from a pretty famous book (The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Raymond)- on any project with enough people working on it, 10% of programmers do 95% of the work. It's like that with pretty much everywhere. If you know what you're doing and do it well, you'll make the $, the more you work, the less luck has to do with anything...
     
  22. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,151
    \

    Well, you say right things I cannot argue against BUT you don't see BIG picture. OK, your father was successful, good for him. However, how many 30k Ph.D.s of equal ability and drive did not make it? My guess=too many. Hard work, love of science, etc. does not refute primitive law of supply and demand. If there are two equal ability individual and only one job for them, what will happen? Secondly, as much as modern science machine relies on successful 100k individuals, it simply cannot exist without pool of cheap, dispensable Ph.D. labor. Life is rough out there. Idialistic aspirants should realize that. Hard work etc. is in no way a guarantee against failure. If Ph.D. losers would have invested their time and efforts in something else (like truck driving) they would not face being a 45 y.o. postdoc without $, house, insurance and future. That is the POINT. One thing is too invest 4 years in training and flip burgers. Another thing is too waste 20 years and to be in loser's shoes. I hope you are getting my point=science cannot function without losers, losers are treated as discardable wipes by science machine, which cannot exist without them. Also, as much as deterministic people want to believe to the contrary, being in the right place at the right time counts for a lot in this world, see Bill G.
     
  23. GRO$$ Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    304
    I can agree with the latter part, not the former. When supply and demand hit (as they are doing to the tech jobs now), only the best stay. It's not just about working hard and loving what you do, it's about being good at it. Rediculously good at it. Being the best.
     

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