Too Many PhDs My Fucken Ass

September 5, 2010

From Calculated Risk.

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16 Responses to “Too Many PhDs My Fucken Ass”

  1. jc Says:

    So glad I got that PhD with student loans to make Assoc Degree pay (which is also the average for all workers) that requires a PhD. And if I ever have to run a cash register again, I’ll leave off my graduate degrees like I did last time so I can get hired by the average worker with a high school diploma.
    Education does pay, right up to college. May I take your order?


  2. As a postdoc I earn the same as the median high school graduate and this seems to be pretty typical in my field.

    What I want to know now is how I make my PhD pay what these surveys suggest it should? Acquire 30 yrs experience to go with my degree? That is the problem with these surveys – people in their fifties and sixties are skewing the figures.

    Anyways I was not foolish enough to seek a PhD for its earning potential.

  3. queenrandom Says:

    Ditto. As a PhD candidate, I’m solidly in the “less than high school diploma” category, although if you include my tuition reduction that puts me into the Associate Degree category. I realize my potential for earnings will be higher than it would have been had I remained a tech, although I would have been making much more this past 5 years (and, hell, I’d probably be making more as a tech than I will as a postdoc, too, as my offers so far would place me in the Some College category).

    At any rate, the following might answer your questions: http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/salary/survey/2010/index.html

  4. BikeMonkey Says:

    If the *bottom* of the disgruntledoc payscale is at the *median* for no-HS (and unemployment is way lower) then…..

    C’mon now people, do the maths.

  5. queenrandom Says:

    Well, it’s hard to say because in this graphic, postdocs and full profs are in the same educational category. The point is, there’s a huge difference in trainee pay and prof pay, leading to trainees who are underpaid versus the norm commensurate with their level of education, which is what was being pointed out above. Or, in other terms, variance is high among the academic set due to nonlinear distribution of salaries with respect to experience. While technically median is the appropriate measure here rather than mean in this case, I’m not certain it really tells us much of use because of the degree of difference between postdoc and asst prof salaries.

    I’d be interested to see the above data stratified by field; I bet it varies quite a bit if your doctorate is in economics v. biology, for example. I also wonder if there’s a difference in unemployment at different levels of academic progression – are there more unemployed PhDs 1, 2, 4 or 10 years after receiving the degree, for example? (I honestly suspect this doesn’t vary as much; we tend to find ways to take care of people who would otherwise be out of a job in academic science).


  6. “If the *bottom* of the disgruntledoc payscale is at the *median* for no-HS (and unemployment is way lower) then….”

    Unfortunately there is no bottom..the NIH is a nice guide, and personally I would not accept lower. However, there are plenty out there who do (and they are not all Internationals) and plenty of PIs ready to take advantage of a postdoc willing to work grad student wages.

    I am the eldest of my siblings and the only high school graduate, I am also the lowest earner. I am not at all convinced education really pays off for the average person. For me it was a labor of love and I want to do it all over again, but I am not sure it is worth it for someone who hated every minute!

  7. FrauTech Says:

    I work in a job that doesn’t require a BA or BS, let alone an AS. I make more than the NIH recommended pay for a postdoc. When I become a real engineer I’ll make way-even-more than the NIH post doc guidelines. When pay is that low, it means there’s too many people with that education, driving the pay down. As someone who already had a useless BA I couldn’t use and couldn’t get paid for, I’m very sympathetic to someone who went through 2-3x as much school/expenses. I think also posts from someone older, from a generation where there *weren’t* too many PhDs, basically telling these young, hardworking people to “suck it up” doesn’t help in any way.

  8. Namnezia Says:

    Does an MD count as a doctoral degree?


  9. No. MD is a professional degree.

  10. jojo Says:

    needz moar meazures ov variance kthx

  11. becca Says:

    As far as salaries:
    1) anyone who can do a PhD can always manage hedge funds, and many do, skewing the money toward those who NEVER USE their degree but are still highly educated (chicken vs. egg issue)
    2) I think things are also skewed by the fact that most expanding areas of employment will be in the associates degree type category. Over the next 40 years, this picture will change and I’m not sure that it will be toward ‘advanced higher education is beneficial’
    3) I really wonder what the kinetics are like? That is, if you plot the weekly salary by the age of the worker, at what point does PhD overtake each other group? Also, because the PhD itself takes so dang long, you are mostly comparing the 28-70 age category vs. the 18-65 of the general population (I’m also assuming they retire later than average- which may be unrealistic, but I’d bet e.g. manual laborers draw the age of retirement down for the less educated category)- I think that might skew it as well.

    As far as unemployment:
    1)I’ll bet this doesn’t include those “not in the workforce” e.g. women with PhDs raising kids.
    2) does it even include PhDs who have never payed into unemployment and therefore aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits? i.e. everyone who doesn’t actually get to a ‘real job’ position at some point?

  12. stephen Says:

    Here is my biosketch hoping that you find useful in your hunting NIH grants competitively.

  13. BikeMonkey Says:

    Just how old do you think PhysioProf IS? He’d have to be nearing retirement for that comment about a time when nobody was complaining about overproduction of PhD’s to obtain. Or maybe even older than that.

    It is hilarious that the current generation thinks that *they* are uniquely job pressured and all who came before had a free ride on a greased sled.

  14. Katharine Says:

    This might explain why the postdocs are saying ‘But my salary sucks ass’:

    http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/salary/survey/2010/graph2.html

  15. Katharine Says:

    I mean, honestly, yes, I know my salary will be shit as a postdoc, but once one gets a professorial job it generally starts rising.


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