Rather surprisingly, there was a discussion earlier today on Reddit about chemistry graduate programs, which predictably turned into a dialogue about the poor job prospects for Chemistry Ph.D. graduates. It is rather telling that none of the OP’s comments got upvoted, and that the highest rated comments reiterate the notion that a chemistry Ph.D. is not worth it, and that it is worthwhile developing skills (such as programming) that translate to the tech sector. This is something I mentioned here 2 years ago, and it appears that the situation has not changed with time.
Slate published an article yesterday about the stagnating career options for Ph.D. graduates; this has been covered by Chemjobber and Derek Lowe as well. The main observation that can be made from the data is that the oft-used abbreviation “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) makes no sense. These are all disparate fields with their own variances in their individual job markets. Lumping these subjects together as “STEM” (which is done by all politicians these days, including President Barack Obama), results in the conflation of TE (for which employment demand is extremely strong) with science (which shows weak to negative demand). Chemjobber has long maintained that the “STEM” acronym should be abolished, and that when people say “STEM”, they actually mean “TE”. Fortunately, it looks like this is slowly starting to percolate into the mainstream.
I know increasing numbers of people who initially studied science at the graduate level, many of whom completed their Ph.D.’s, and are now working in the tech or finance sector, where jobs are much more lucrative and stable. As an example, Zipfian Academy conducts a 12-week intensive course in “data science” and states “91% of graduates placed into data science roles after 0-3 months at companies including Facebook, Tesla Motors, and many more. Our graduates make an average of $115K as a base salary following the program.”
(Usually I would scoff at the idea of “data science”…but at the end of the day, anything that is worth $115K has to be legitimate, right?).
I mean, seriously. Being a martyr for the cause of science and sacrificing the peak years of your youth for the sake of furthering human knowledge is a noble cause, but at the end of the day it is simply not worth it. When such insanely lucrative opportunities are there in other fields literally for the taking, why choose to study science? When you see that in other fields one can study for 3 months and be offered a salary over 100K, you realize that science is simply not worth it.