Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A PhD in the "Hard Sciences" and No Job

US pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren’t there. Brian Vastag, Published: July 7

[Excerpted] Traditional academic jobs are scarcer than ever. Once a primary career path, only 14 percent of those with a PhD in biology and the life sciences now land a coveted academic position within five years, according to a 2009 NSF survey... The reason: The supply of scientists has grown far faster than the number of academic positions.

Research jobs slashed
The pharmaceutical industry once was a haven for biologists and chemists who did not go into academia. Well-paying, stable research jobs were plentiful in the Northeast, the San Francisco Bay area and other hubs. But a decade of slash-and-burn mergers; stagnating profit; exporting of jobs to India, China and Europe; and declining investment in research and development have dramatically shrunk the U.S. drug industry, with research positions taking heavy hits.

...Two groups seem to be doing better than other scientists: physicists and physicians. The unemployment rate among those two groups hovers around 1 to 2 percent, according to surveys from NSF and other groups. Physicists end up working in many technical fields — and some go to Wall Street — while the demand for doctors continues to climb as the U.S. population grows and ages.

But for the much larger pool of biologists and chemists, “It’s a particularly difficult time right now,” Stephan said....

Majia here: It is troubling that we cannot employ scientists in productive pursuits, especially in biology and physics, given the relevance of these areas for so many of our energy and quality of life needs.

Instead, we rely on Wall Street to suck up extra physicists in the pursuit of activities that provide no value to the economy (profiteering only).

Meanwhile, we leave the biologists and chemists to find temp positions with Manpower.

I completed my PhD about 20 years ago, in a different world.

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