Skip to comments.The Ph.D Bust: America's Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts
Posted on 02/25/2013 7:05:40 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Politicians and businessmen are fond of talking about America's scientist shortage -- the dearth of engineering and lab talent that will inevitably leave us sputtering in the global economy.
But perhaps it's time they start talking about our scientist surplus instead.
I am by no means the first person to make this point. But I was compelled to try and illustrate it after reading a report from Inside Higher Ed on this weekend's gloomy gathering of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In short, job prospects for young science Ph.D.'s haven't been looking so hot these last few years, not only in the life sciences, which have been weak for some time, but also in fields like engineering.
The graphs below, drawn from National Science Foundation data and some of my own calculations, depict Ph.D. employment at graduation. It's not a perfect measure of the labor market for young science talent -- ideally we'd have data on graduates nine months or a year out of school, since some people need a little extra time to job hunt. But looking at these figures over time, it seems pretty obvious that there's no great run on trained scientists in this country.
First, the big picture. Here is the entire market for Ph.D.'s, including those graduating from humanities, science, education, and other programs. The blue line tracks students who have a job waiting for them after graduation. The green line tracks those signed up for a post-doctorate study program. The red line stands for the jobless (though a sliver of them are heading to another academic program).
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
Why would anyone want to go $100-200K in debt to end up working at a research university for a $30K stipend?
I’ve worked with science PhD’s who have left academia to work in the private sector. Almost uniformally, I find them to be elitist, arrogant, and extremely lazy. As a policy, I will never hire a PhD. Ever.
And yet the politicians keep giving more and more H1-B visas to foreigners.
If there is no job waiting for you when you get a PhD then you have not made good contacts over the 7 or 8 (or more) years it takes
Unless you get a job in government after you get your “womyn’s studies” PhD, you are in trouble already.
PhD is a long path and those who were preparing for it looking to graduate now largely began when Bush was still around.
Leave it to the liberal Atlantic to miss this salient point and thus miss the connection to the intentional Obama downturn.
Ding ding ding, we have a winner!!!
Purpose of H1-B visas is to depress wages in skilled job markets. It is pure corporatism at its most blatant.
It is a necessity to become a Prof.
Better to find a job worth doing and save the tuition.
Ironically, I have a B.A. in English and one of my reports has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. He's from Puerto Rico, and apparently didn't get the memo that as a Doctor he is supposed to be arrogant and lazy. He will likely be promoted soon, but because of his intelligence, drive, and proven results, not because of his education.
Both parties love H1B visa programs.
This is likely true. Ironically, most PhDs in academics still think reflexively that a Democrat in office means better funding for science. That's just ridiculous. Obama has no respect for the sacrifices people have to make with their lives to become PhDs, MDs, engineers, etc. etc. To him, you didn't build that, and don't deserve one dime more (or even as much as) one of the union members who vote for him.
We have been a military strength in the world in part because we have superior technology and we have been an economic powerhouse. We are going to fall behind in technology if we don't make it worth people's while to study science and engineering. We are already losing our superior economic stature. You can't run a nation when you take away from it's citizens incentives for working hard and achieving.
I also agree with the statements about H1Bs. I think it is great that we recruit really good people from abroad, but I think the percentage of US taxpayer dollars that can be spent on training / hiring foreign students and post-docs should be strictly limited. It should not be the case that 80% or more of the post-docs in a lab funded by US taxpayer dollars are non-American.
Exactly the problem. There is another aspect of this that I find very distasteful. Universities keep accepting people into their PhD programs even though they know there are no jobs for them. They do this because they need the warm bodies - to do work for the NIH-sponsored investigators, to justify the training grants the institution has, and to maintain the stature of the university as a graduate degree granting program.
I've seen a fair number of bright, energetic, and sincere people really hurt themselves by spending 4-6 years in a lab struggling to earn their PhD, so that they could then go out and do a 2-4 year post-doc working nights and weekends to get some papers out, so that they could maybe get an offer as junior faculty on soft money, and hope that they could be one of the lucky ones that received an NIH grant (currently around 6-8% of applications are funded).
Compare that to the people who run cleaning or lawn care services around where I live, and make six-figure salaries with much of it under the table and thus not taxed.
There are a few exceptions, but I've noticed the same.
In electrical terms, they are High-Q circuits. Knowledgeable in a very narrow field, with little knowledge, or even common sense, in most other fields...:^)
That's a very interesting observation. I've found arrogance among some few of them, but in general my experience has been just the opposite of yours. I've found Ph.D. scientists in both government and corporate research to be primarily interested in doing science, in doing interesting things with their brains. Many of them are kind husbands and fathers who have privately confided to me, "Thank God my employer doesn't know I'd pay to be able to do this research." They're so hard-working that their wives have to come and drag them home from the lab, and you will see their cars in the lab parking lot on Saturdays and Sundays.
What did they have the Ph.D. in??
i believe there’s a big difference between those with Ph.D.’s in art history and those with Ph.D.’s in physics.
Agreed. We need smart immigrants who will STAY in the US, not get education and experience in the US, and export that knowledge to other countries which compete with us.
They had Phd's in physics, and were working in the financial industry. Way out of their leagues.
Ahh..That explains it.
To get a Ph.D., you have to learn a lot about one thing and do original research on one small aspect of your field to become THE expert in that one small thing you research (I know - I'm doing it)
The problem with many Ph.D.'s is that they forget they are experts in just that one small area and begin to believe they know everything about everything!
RE: In electrical terms, they are High-Q circuits. Knowledgeable in a very narrow field, with little knowledge, or even common sense, in most other fields...:^)
I know of someone with a Ph.D in pure mathematics. He’s now teaching calculus at a community college. He told me that he really wanted a research oriented position at a university but could not find one at this time.
What other lucrative field can he go into to make use of his education?
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