Do income statistics (earnings vs. education) lie?

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

  1. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

    Well, in the real swamps of academy and governmental research (I know little about industry) scientific excellence is not (unfortunately) the only way to full blown financial/career success. Office politics, salemanship skills, hype skills, ass kissing skills, light fraud skills, etc., etc., etc are very important. That's why I am not sure about "the best stay" part. "The best" in what? If a guy is the best $grant$ getter, he'll stay employed no matter how worthless is his research/results are (money do not smell). If scientific journals will stop publishing worthless, redundant piles of "scientific" publications (necessary for survival, publish crap or perish and near worthless otherwise) I'll buy "the best stay". Secondly, deliberate overproduction of Ph.D.s (to use as cheap labor and throw out) is incredible waste of human lives.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Axiom79 Registered Member

    Apologies for digging this one up but I joined the thread late. I think it's perfectly fair to say this, but at the same time it's almost as if you are being punished for your qualifications/knowledge. You may not enjoy the prospect of truck driving for a living, but it's highly likely that someone who has chosen this as a career does (assuming that they would re-train for another career if they didn't). If, in addition, you both work equally hard in your chosen careers, how is it justifiable that somebody receives significantly greater financial reward for one by comparison to the other?

    Also, to raise a discussion I've had many times with my father, I don't believe that unintellectual work should be as well paid as more intellectually orientated vocations. My simple justification for this is, to use a very poor choice of words, 'expendibility'. I would like to believe that people choose their career paths on the basis of what they will find rewarding/stimulating. Whereas the truck driver may find his career stimulating, it certainly wouldn't stimulate someone who is more intellectually gifted. But whereas the truck driver may be totally incapable by whatever means, of performing the role of a PhD, I find it unlikely that the same is true of the reverse. Of course, the PhD may not enjoy the role of truck driver, but that certainly doesn't suggest that he/she isn't infinitely capable of filling it, should he/she be required to do so.

    To me this suggests that there are far more individuals with the potential to be successful truck drivers as there are potential professors. If it wasn't for the desire for stimulation many intelligent people seek, I doubt there would be half as many PhDs out there. Intelligent or not, people just wouldn't bother.

    To add to the 'if your good at something, you'll be rewarded for it' discussion, I think that view is correct to some degree. However, you may be the best person at something ever to live, but if that something isn't in demand, your unlikely to recieve any particular financial reward for it. Incidentally, many salesmen make a whole heap of cash off the back of their talents with 'hot air' - hardly humanity's greatest blessing or achievement.

    Sorry for any incoherency but I'm experiencing one of those 'completely tired but unable to sleep' situations!
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. dckbili Registered Member

    "Education is surely critical. It's just not the only policy solution to our short- and long-term challenges -- and sometimes not even a particularly useful one."

    -Alan Greenspan
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. dckbili Registered Member

    "As it has been reported, our firms already outsource radiology, financial analysis, and programming jobs to low-wage counties, can we conclude that our displaced workers need better skill sets?"
    -Alan Greenspan
  8. dckbili Registered Member

    "Offshoring is not inevitable, it is a choice. If there were a truly free labor market I could move to one of the countries that the jobs are going to and compete for a job in an environment where my living cost is the same as my competition. The countries that are receiving the jobs won't let me in." -Stuart
  9. cosmic cow Registered Member

    If any of you are interested in the US government stats, you can find them for any job here:

    For Lawyers:
    Type of work Salary
    All graduates
    Private practice
    Judicial clerkship and government

    For Truckers:
    General freight trucking $17.56
    Grocery and related product wholesalers 16.90
    Specialized freight trucking 15.79
    Other specialty trade contractors 14.25
    Cement and concrete product manufacturing 14.14

    For Chemists:
    Federal government $72,010
    Scientific research and development services 60,400
    Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 53,070
    Architectural, engineering, and related services 38,780
  10. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

    Oh Dear, you've missed the point of discussion completely. Don't take government statistics as absolute, analyze it. Here is a few points you should consider: 1) does government statistics considers temps, postdocs, etc. in its 60K average calculations? (hell no, otherwise, sheer numbers of low paid temps in research world would never let average incomes fly to 60K or something like that. 2) THE MAIN point: how many Ph.D. graduates get those 72K jobs? How many graduates cannot get any decent job in research (and outside of it)? You see, averages are meaningless, unless you know % of graduates achieving career success (sorry, that % is increadibly low, that's why native born westerners prefer to stay away from sciences as far as possible). 3) Ethical point: Academe lost its moral grounds and turned into a big grant getting sweatshop. In order not to hire "expensive" HS, CC, University graduates to work in research (as technicians, engineers, etc.), academe prefer admit as many cheap&dispensible graduate students/postdocs to man essentially technician level jobs. It's incredible waste of resources and human lives. I've seen what kind of "educated"&"challenging" jobs cheap Ph.D.s were doing. It's a shame and disgrace. 4) Let's assume that an over the road driver makes $45K on the average. But guess what, it takes 2 months or so to become a truck driver and 10-20 years to become 60k researcher (if one is extremely lucky).
  11. Nasor Valued Senior Member

    Based on what I've seen in chemistry salaries, this sounds about right. The average post-doc salary seems to be around $25k-$35k/year, while industry salaries start at $70k and go up much higher if you're specialized in something with a high demand (like computational drug design or organic synthesis). Heck, the grad students at my university get paid $20k/year base, more if they can get some kind of fellowship.
    I've posted statistics on this before, but you dismiss them as propaganda from 'the man'. What do you want, exactly?
  12. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

    Did I argue with those numbers?

    So grad students are just paid to study even if they don't have assistantship, fellowship, etc.? Well, it's very unlikely (in the USA, at least). They must work on some project, teach classes to make those $. If all what they need to do (to get paid) is to enroll, please, tell me the name of such a wonderful university. I want to enroll there.

    What statistics did you post? I bet, your department does not have clue what its graduates are doing right now. And you are talking about some unexistent statistics on the national scale. Where did that statistics come from? Who collected it and how? But you are right, professional association's statistics will show close to 100% employment of its members. Unemployed (in the field) don't need that membership after all.

    It's not like I want something. I don't want anything except discussion. It's sci. forum, after all.
    The QUESTION: "How many Ph.D. (natural sciences) graduates are
    permanently employed in the fields related to their education (in the positions requiring that Ph.D.) remains open. National statistics does not exist. So, I rely solely on my experience and judgment (which could be wrong).
  13. Xerxes asdfghjkl Valued Senior Member

    The fact that PhD is a LATIN acronym should give its uselessness away before anything else. But it doesn't. Why?

    I see three groups of people on my campus:
    -fear driven
    -money driven
    -passion driven

    >Money driven will avoid anything with a low ROI, no matter how 'fun'. Only a few bother with the phD
    >Passion driven are either way too independant or ambitious to spend time hiding in a professors shadow.
    >Fear these guys have tunnel vision, and often end up getting PhD's because they're too frail for the real world. When they wake up in the morning, they don't think of new ways of accomplishing things. Nope. Instead they do as told. In exchange, they get a hat which says 'McD' on it. (These people are supposed to do groundbreaking research?)

    The PhD is like a beaten path which offers comfort to the fear consumed lemmings, but ultimately leads off the edge of a cliff and into a deep, dark abyss.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Rule #1: Keep your eyes open at all times. I'm a first year undergrad, but isn't this obvious? Or is it harder to see the more educated one becomes?
  14. surfermsc123 Registered Member

    Thank you for posting thread.

    It is somthing I have believed for quite some time.

    It is interesting to see someone formulate what a PhD grad makes vs. someone in a trade. I would like to see some more anaylitical formulas taking money/earnings into consideration.

    I would like to sound off on this thread. This is going to sound blunt, and perhaps a little "rude" to some, but here it is:

    1) I have pathological hatred for all my college professors. Those who cannot do -teach.

    College professors teach because they failed the real test which is being successful in the real world. Because they have lived in or around colleges for most of their lives they have built up vast stores of theoretical knowledge of how the real world works. The ultimate truth is that theoretical knowledge is just that – theoretical.

    In the real world you are constantly being judged on your performance. If you fail at your job you are fired. You have to perform every day, there isn’t any choice. Knowledge and procedures are constantly changing so you constantly have to figure out more and more, or never advance to a higher job. There are Supervisors and Managers who constantly observe and judge your performance.

    When you are taught by failures, who have effectively failed in the world, what are they likely to teach you? Certainly not what works. What they teach you is what they know, and what they know is how to do it all wrong. Therefore you are learning what they know all too well - which is how to fail.

    Never doubt the ignorance of your Professor. This is a person who will stop at nothing to infect you with all the wrong attitudes and ideas. Notice also that they can't stand successful people out in the real world, they call those people who succeed evil, or ignorant (a popular tool in most academic arguments), or bourgeois or imperialists, etc. etc. ad infinitum, when it is they themselves who are truly the dull-witted ones. They are miserably unaware of how things truly work.

    2) I believe that the only thing that really matters in the long run is how much money you make. I'm a money oreinted person. It took me quite some time to train myself to be this way because its not natural, nonetheless I'm glad I did. The training has paid off.

    3) I graduated college with a degree in "International Business and Trade". After graduating I could not find a job. I had to work for free. I eventually specialized in International Law. At age 26 I went into business for myself. It has been incredibly difficult. 60-70 weeks are the norm. It is blood, sweat, tears, and pain. It is SALES and hussling. Two things most people stay in school forever to aviod. Today I am making more working for myself then anyone else in my shows working for someone else. Certainly more than an "electrician". But that could end at any time. You stop. You die. It could all end tommorow. Clients could leave, not pay, sales coudl drop off. There are a million reasons That's how this world works.

    You are wasting your time in school. You are following outdated advice of "stay in school, make good grades, get a good job.

    The way this world works now is insane. Graduate from college with 50k in DEBT (debt is slavery) and your LUCKY to find a job working for 30k per year.

    College's are supported by big business. You know why? Supply. It's all about money. Money. Money. Money. They want a large supply of highly educated workers to keep thier profits flowing to the top. And if you have ever taken economics 101 you know what happens to the salary.

    You will never make any money working for someone else. You will only make money being self employed or a business owner. Thats a fact. That or you will WORK FOR someone who is (or was) an entraprenuer. They took the risks. You were a scared and looking for "job security" that no longer exsists.

    My advise to you if you have an MBA or a PHD and do not want to start your own business? WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT. Under Bush the goverment has grown to monsterous proportions. You would be shocked how much money some government employees make? PHD? Expect to make 60k starting pushing 150k by your retirement in which you can retire on HALF PAY and medical/dental benifits for life at age 55 or with 30 years of service.

    OR if you are like me, you will fight your financial independance and make even more (hopefully).

    Please heed these words. I know they are direct but I really think they are true. I was sold the same lie growing up that I should "go to school, makes good grades, get a good job, and work my way up the corporate ladder". But it's not me. It never was. I refuse to let my success depend on other peoples recognition of my acheivements.

    Do you know what you see when you are climbing the corporate ladder? Someone's ass always in your face. Thats no way to live. You must go the unconveintional route or you will go the conventional one standing in line with the sheep. And just like the stock market, the Real Estate market, or most important, the J-O-B market, the sheep get slaugtered.

    I understand all of you are very smart. But in this Darwinistic world, you can have all the degrees in the world, a PHD etc, and I can be a high school drop, and if I make more money than you - I am more successful than you. In the longrun the only thing that matters is MONEY. I hate to say it like that. But it's the truth.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2007
  15. surfermsc123 Registered Member

    Thank you for posting thread.

  16. Till Eulenspiegel Registered Member

    In my experience the greater the amount of education the more a person generally makes. Of course there are exceptions but that is generally how it goes.

    I don't have a PhD but I do have more than one hundred graduate credits over a Master's Degree. When I retired from education I was earning a six figure salary and my pension gives me more money than I need to live. It has allowed me to purchase an oceanfront condo in southern Florida and to travel extensively. I am sure none of this would have happened had I only a high school education. I have four brothers and a sister with high school educations only and none of them earn more than thirty five thousand a year and two earn considerably less.

    My four children all have advanced degrees and earn considerably more than either my wife or I ever did at the same point on our careers. My daughter is a special education teacher and earns close to 100K per year. Like her mother and me she will have a great pension waiting for her when she retires. My oldest son is a dentist earning over 175K, my next oldest is a cardiologist earning about 200K and my youngest is a lawyer earning about 250K which will go up to about 750K within five years.

    The difference between my three sons and the average PhD, especially a PhD in the field of education is the amount of work put into the average week. My sons all work minimum sixty hour weeks and my youngest usually works a seventy five hour week. Each of them is on call during weekends and holidays. They don't get ten plus weeks of paid vacation or, as in the case of college instructors and professors, more than fifteen weeks of vacation time. Their days start early and end late. They also do not have retirement pensions. If they want to live well once they retire they have to set aside money now while they are still young.
  17. surfermsc123 Registered Member


    It sounds like your children are the dire exception to the rule. You should be on a talk show. I have no idea how so many high income earners are all in one family. I especially have no idea how a "special education teacher" (one who teaches retards) makes near 100k per year when the median income for that is 40k. Does she own her own school?

    Back when you were growing up pensions were the norm. My grandmother worked for the electric company and still collects a pension of half pay 30 years later. This is definatly totally abnormal today. Today there are no pensions waiting for anyone except in government jobs. The private sector is only intersted in one thing - money. At all costs. Whatever conscaince "it" had in the past is no longer the case. Perhaps it was the market back then, or a sence of ethical responsibilty to employees, who knows. Ethics are ultra rare in businesss and pensions do not exsist. Even when you are lucky enough to have a private pension expect to get layed off within 1-3 of collecting it. A coincidence? I think not. Things have changed. Look at the average 401k from President Clintons years and compare it to now. Back then some companies were offering up to 15% 401k, now you would be hard pressed to find one for 5%.

    The rich and shareholders own everything and just want more money. The system is set up to extract this from the bottom of the pyramid. There are no "pensions" anymore. Hire young, fire old, and remember to keep that carrot hanging in front of the horse (he never gets it anyways). Then you break your promises. Look at branch managers. In 99% of cases now they are paid strictly off thier performance reports (profit margin). As a result the less thier employees make the more they make and they will go to whatever lengths to "extract the most - give the least". I kid you not, I was interviewed by a company who was looking to pay 80K per year to REPLACE the branch manager with someone young. The man had 35 years with the same comapny and was less than 2 years from retirement with full pension. According to the greed faced district manager.

    "He has been with this company 35 years" "he retires in less than 2 year and he knows this" "he wants to things the same old way" "that's why we need someone young, a go getter, with just the right amount of experience who can learn his job in 6 months and is ready to move into his shoes from that point" "as you can see thier will be allot of pressure to learn this job" "we are under a seroius time constriant"

    This was over one hour. Hint by hint by hint by hint. It doesnt get anymore obvoius than this. The pension for this worker will come out of the district manager performance report. He wanted to cut this guy - a loyal employee for 35 years. As you can imagine I turned the job down and instead decided to "mind my own business and grow it" (I'm self employed).

    The world has changed drastically. You are older and based on my experience with my parents you really want to imagine things are the same way. They are not.

    I just have a really hard time swallowing your story. Like I said, you need to be on a talk show with all your kids. If it is true. Most people graduate college 50k in SL debt and are lucky to find a job that pays 30k per year. Many people are what I call "50 at 50". This means they are 50 years old and make 50k per year. In the USA salaries overall have remained almost stagnant in 10 years while inflation, the cost of living, and consumer debt have skyrocketed. On the other side capital debt has gone down. An ominoius sign if you belive in traditional economics as I do.

    Bottom line. Your story sounds too good to be true. I live in Los Angeles and I know engineers and an attorney (2 years experiance) that make less than 70k per year and are forced to rent in the second most expensive city in America. I'm not saying your lying. I'm just saying your story doesnt sound real. :shrug:
  18. Till Eulenspiegel Registered Member


    My daughter teaches on Long Island, one of the places in The States with the highest teacher's salaries. Teachers in most districts start at close to forty thousand a year and with seniority plus additional graduate credits many teachers earn more than $100,000 per year.
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Basically the choice you're offering is to believe the statistics or to believe you. Even if we trust you, you admit that your statements are based entirely on your own experience with people from whom you have only two degrees of separation. That is not a valid statistical sample!

    I know a few people with post-graduate degrees who are not doing well, but only a few. Among the rest of them there are certainly those who consider themselves failures by their own standards because they've ended up working for the Employer Of Last Resort (civil service) rather than doing brilliant work and advancing civilization, but even they are earning $80K. I know some high school graduates who started their own businesses and are now well into the six-figure bracket--mostly plumbers, and I still recommend to any kid who isn't sure college is for him to apprentice himself to a plumber. And of course there is the handful of gifted artists who didn't need no stinkin' education to make it as a guitarist or a sculptor. But most of them consider themselves lucky to reach $40K in a boring office job before retiring. Quite a few of them are in their 30's flipping burgers, stacking DVD rentals or selling shoes. A lot of them have jobs but still live with their parents in a prolonged adolescence. What happened to old DarkSidzz, a textbook illustration of that. Did he finally decide to go back to school at 29?

    I'm not saying my personal experiences are any more representative of the population as a whole than yours are. But I am pointing out that you missed enough of the demographics to not have a valid sample.

    If you don't think proper statistical methods were used, then tell us why. But don't just say that your sample must be more representative than theirs even though it's far smaller.
  20. surfermsc123 Registered Member

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics

    There always seems to be a detachment between what the government tells people the numbers are (whether it's GDP, the Trade balance, or real income) and what people see in thier own lives and experiences.

    For instance look at the US economy under Bush. If you look at the numbers alone it looks good. But then you find out that wall street and a small segment of US society has grown incredibly rich under Bush, while the majority of Americans have not seen any increase in thier personal income. Real wages have remained stagnant for 10 years. That is a fact.

    Another example I have seen is with South Africa. Look at the crime statistics South Africa produces. It was on the news that they suspect they are fudging the numbers. If you talk to the average South African who experiences this crime first hand, you will see a large gap between what the goverment says vs. what people experience in the real world.

    It's not like the goverment lies or has some hidden agenda in reporting statistics. No, certianly not. They would never do that..

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    The question is what is the motivation (if any)? We all know the U.S. government is ruled by big business, multi-national corperations, and special interests. Would these entities have any interest in getting highly educated, skilled workers, for next to nothing? Yes. How do you do that? Increase the supply. How do you increase the supply? Attract people to the occupation. It all seems a little far fetched, however it is not out of the question.

    The most important thing to look at is the meathods used to collect these statstics that claim PHd's are making allot of money.

    I can tell you that according the the statstics the starting salary for my major in college was "$50,000 yr". This what was told to me by everyone in the college departments as well as outside sources and that MSDOS based program everyone has used to look up salaries. They all claimed the starting pay for a business major ni "International Business" was $50k per year. This is of course a complete lie! In the real world most people are lucky to start off at $30,000 per year! Yet the statistics, and most importantly the college of business / university institutional research ( I used to work there as a student assistant) department that produces these statistics claim otherwise.

    Please allow me to tell you how these income statistics were collected by the IR professors:

    People with varying motives would call the department and say "I need income statistics for X major from your University". The IR department always got the statistics from surveys mailed to graduates at thier last known address. Perhaps 10% of all graduates would respond.

    People are ALWAYS lying about thier income today. Come on. I know you have noticed this trend. Why? Because of how our morally defunct society views them if they make less than they think are supposed to! I'm telling you from experience. People are always over-projecting themselves. Even when it makes no sense to do so. And I have no doubt that someone who spent 50k on a college education who was working for 30k in a dead end office job, watching his high school drop out plumber drive around town in a new SUV while he was still in the same car he had in college - and feeling terible. Yes. They would absolutey lie on the survey.

    Do you think they would lie on the survey?

    Do you think the University wants to look bad by producing low income numbers for its graduates and prospective students?
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2007
  21. sreeja Registered Member

    According to me education and job are two different places.After completing education we certainly acquire practical experience.Now a days experience is the basis of salary.If a person is highly educated he can do much better than others who have less education.The skill also to be considered.
  22. CharonZ Registered Senior Member

    Actually the likely salary also depend on what field you got your phD. Biologists on average, get far less than chemistry guys, for instance. Or rather chemistry guys can get a job in the industry more easily than biologists.

    Staying in academia is usually for a long time not profitable. The average pay for a postdoc is around 35.000 and trying to score a faculty position is quite hard to achieve. Working long (say 60-70 h a week) does not make it easier, because that is the regular workload that you are expected to do anyway.

    A better career choice might be to get an industry position after the phD. Entry salaries are often around 60.000 but it depends largely were you end up (R&D, sales, technical support, etc.).
  23. Nasor Valued Senior Member

    Since everyone else is just throwing around anecdotal experiences, I'll add mine. There are many grad students in my department (chemistry), and every year about 20%-25% of them graduate and have to start looking for jobs. Almost everyone who wants an industry jobs seems to find one, usually at a salary of around $70k+/year; not bad for a 26-27 year old, and certainly a lot more than an electrician is likely to make. The lowest industry salary that I've heard of was $56k/year, and that person's options were limited because they insisted on living in a certain state. Intel just hired several graduating grad students for $99k/year.

    Everyone here keeps talking about how PhDs are economic dead ends, but all I see are people from my department graduating and getting high-paying jobs right and left. Often people actually have jobs lined up a year or more in advance of graduation, usually because they've starting working on a research project in association with a company. There are a few people who have had trouble finding jobs, but those all tend to be people who - not to be mean about it - either just weren't very good and were barely able to graduate, or who were really nutty/weird and probably unable to make a good impression at an interview. Of course, that's a problem that probably would have damaged their careers no matter what field they went into.

    And regarding the cost of grad school, I'd like to point out again that in the U.S. virtually all phsyical science grad stuents are paid to go to school, usually around $20k/year. There's also no tuition, so you're basically just paying for books and things like parking decals. No, $20k/year isn't a great salary for a 22 year old with an undergrad degree, but it's enough to live comfortably (in most places, anyway) and stay out of debt.

Share This Page