Poor science Ph.D.s! All that schooling and no place to go.

The Chronicle of Higher Education often hosts commentaries from disgruntled Ph.D.s and Ph.D. candidates about the cruddy job prospects these people have in academia. Interestingly, even Ph.D.s in science seem to have challenges when it comes to finding a job that actually uses their skills.

The most recent evidence of this assertion comes from an essay by Amanda Shea, a doctoral student in human nutrition at Virginia Tech.

Ms. Shea points out that "the number of students receiving doctorates in biology increased from 3,803 in 1981 to 8,135 in 2011, while the number of biological-science Ph.D. recipients in tenure-track positions dropped precipitously from 55% in 1973 to 15% in 2006. Thus, a large majority of students are being trained for jobs they will never obtain."

Her most interesting observation, though, may come from a recent newsletter of the American Society for Cell Biology. There, she says,the ASCB president wrote a column suggesting that an acceptable alternative career for science Ph.D.'s is to become elementary- or secondary-school science teachers.

Wow. That's eight years of higher education, hard work, and student loans to teach seven-year-olds about salamanders. Judging by her tone, Ms. Shea is appalled at this idea, and she should be.

Some of the comments at the end of her piece are also quite interesting: http://chronicle.com/article/Its-Time-for-Graduate-Science/137541/?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

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Lee Teschler

Leland serves as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design. He has 34 years of Service and holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan, a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of...
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