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View Diary: THREE times as many Science degrees as there are Science jobs! (298 comments)

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  •  thanks for topic (5+ / 0-)

    Yes - I'm a biology PHD. The media rarely tells a story other than that there is a major shortage of scientists and engineers (along with a message that american students are too lazy to study math and science).

    I won't go to the effort of copying links over from various listservs or discussion blogs that academic biologists and chemists use, but for at least the last 10 years, there has been an 'oversupply' of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers relative to jobs. This has left a few people disgruntled. Most science grad students view themselves as privileged, and are willing to accept the wages, but it might be around age 35-40 that some people switch into related more lucrative fields such as pharmaceutical sales (where I have friends earning six figures) or the business side of coporations.
     I think biomedical research is the worst area because grants from the NIH are given out in 3-5 year blocks, and the most competitive labor situation is to award grants to a few major professors who plan to use grad students (earning ~$12/hr) or postdocs (NIH payscale sets salary at $38k/yr to start) to perform most of the labor. Biotech companies are very fickle and frequently dissolve whole departments, and there has been a pretty large oversupply of workers for several years now.
        Salaries are highest for people who were able to go through medical school or certain engineering niches (that are hard to predict when someone starts school). Doctors often can earn $200k-500k, partly because there is restricted entry to medical schools. If a doctor goes into clinical research, they often will command much higher salaries than people doing biomedical research via the cell biology department in a university.
      In a sense, this is entirely fair because we have a free market, and a lot of research doesn't result in anything that can be sold, and has to be supported via a patron such as federal NSF or NIH funds. It used to be that science was only supported by patronage from the king, who would support a few botanists and astronomers to keep them entertained.

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