Median Salaries and Employability of PhDs Falling
A PhD isn’t what it used to be. Almost 40% of new recipients of PhDs are left with only stopgap jobs or job prospects. Taxi drivers and bartenders, for example, are becoming much better educated.
The decline in full-time hiring in universities has resulted in tens of thousands of Ph.D. holders teaching classes for around $3000 each without benefits. And postdoctorates, once a year-long stopover for scientists on the way to better research positions, are now stretching four years on average. Most pay between $40,000 and $50,000 a year.
As a result, many graduate students are considering careers outside the academy or their research field. This has led to credential inflation as Ph.D.s fill jobs traditionally held by professionals without such lofty degrees. For instance the number of Ph.D.s applying to teach at private high schools has jumped between 10% and 20% over the last five years, according to Devereaux McLatchey, president of Carney, Sandoe & Associates which is one of the nation’s largest recruiters for private high schools.
… Schools are beginning to respond. Ms. Brown oversees a new program to place students in the private sector. One grad student working for her said she uses a pseudonym on the program’s blog to avoid alienating her professor. At Stanford University, a program is in its second year to help Ph.D. graduates find jobs as high-school teachers. At the University of Miami, doctoral students are interning in the school’s communications, development and research departments to learn more vocational skills; and at Columbia University, Ph.D.s are taking classes in using Twitter to better communicate their work to nonacademic audiences.
Even in a field as timely and in demand as neuroscience, recent floods of PhD recipients threaten to overwhelm the job markets:
There’s a significant increase in the number of doctorates in neuroscience, but the number of people working as scientists in academia a decade after their postdoctoral fellowship is decreasing. Is that a problem for the field?
Perhaps not, if trained neuroscientists are moving into productive fields as alternatives to academia. For the most talented, academia can be a dead end when the larger world of opportunity is waiting for them. For many female scientists, becoming a mother and having a large number of intelligent children may be a greater contribution to the world than anything she might have done professionally — particularly in academia.
… Training neuroscientists with many different skills, giving them many different opportunities and offering them a variety of substantive roles is absolutely critical, both for basic understanding of the brain and especially for translating that knowledge for better understanding and treatment of brain disorders.
Less intelligent and insightful observers will focus on “job prospects” and fail to understand the larger opportunities that may exist for intelligent and educated persons. More
But the sad truth is that for many areas of PhD training, the entire process can be a waste of time. Worse, modern academia too often indoctrinates rather than educates, cuts off possiblities for the future rather than opening them up. This happens all too often when too many poorly prepared youth are forced into programs that are uninspired, unnecessary, and counterproductive to society at large.
If more children were trained in the Dangerous Child Method ™ , society would not be faced with this surfeit of the overtrained, highly indebted, and underprepared for life.
Student loan debt is becoming a significant economic drag on society at large — all the more tragic for being so unnecessary.
Try not to let yourself or your children fall into this trap of debt, indoctrination, and wage slavery. If at all possible, train yourself or your child to be financially independent before ever setting foot on a university campus. If students are spending their own money to pay for their educations, they are more likely to spend it carefully.