Monday, March 14, 2011

Well, that's not good news

Chart credit: Chemical and Engineering News
Yesterday, Chemical and Engineering News published its 2009 survey of new graduates. The data was collected from October 2009 until January 2010. The results are in the above chart and in the attached article by David Hanson, based on work performed by Jeffery Allum and Gareth Edwards of the ACS Department of Member Research Technology.

Factlets/analysis:
  • Check out the unemployment rates for B.S./M.S./Ph.D. graduates: 15%, 19% and 9%. What happened to "new M.S. chemists are most employable?"
  • The "further study" numbers for Ph.D. chemists ain't so hot, either. I figure that's where postdocs go. 
  • Median starting salaries for B.S. and Ph.D. chemists dropped 5%.
  • Isn't it disturbing how many of these kids are employed by academia? While I suppose that it makes sense for postdocs/academic-types, it doesn't make any sense for B.S. and/or M.S. chemists. 
Boy, this isn't pretty. (I think this is my first time covering this survey -- I'll have to go back and find previous versions of it.) 

23 comments:

  1. @CJ: Guess C&EN ran out of lipstick to put on this pig.

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  2. This is really, really awful. I expect to see ACS bigwigs and academicians run around with their hair on fire about these numbers.

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  3. Interesting note: in the very same issue there is a letter from a reader saying that we aren't training too many Ph.Ds, it's just because of the bad economy that chemist unemployment is so high. He goes on to suggest that if there was more venture capital available there wouldn't be a glut at all.

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  4. If academia is not worried about these numbers, they should be. How is chemistry going to attract top students if they can't get jobs at the end?

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  5. I noticed a lot of undergrads at my old school lingering on for a fifth year as techs before grad school or med school. Seemed like a better idea than jumping straight into grad school, at least.

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  6. This is great to hear all of 2.5 months from graduation.

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  7. How's it going for you, spoons?

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  8. These stats definitely show why people don't like the ACS. A lot of the problems people are facing are just redefined (further study, academia?). People know the field has been turning into crap for awhile, they can see it, but as long as the ACS can run around with a 3% unemployment figure, we are all supposed to believe it's fine.

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  9. I have a small issue with the reported median salary: Huh??!??! If roughly 50% of the folks are "further study", and the NIH recommended first-year postdoc stipend is still ~37K, what are those gov't and industry folks starting at?

    And where can I get THOSE jobs???

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  10. It's going. It would be nice to have a job at least lined up at graduation even if it pays bad. It seems like the hump for experience is about two years so having a nose for openings I qualify for is a new skill I'm acquiring.

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  11. @spoons: No postdoc for you?! (Said like the Soup Guy from "Seinfeld")

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  12. That would require a Doc. Have BS and deciding what I want to do.

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  13. Spoons, e-mail me and let me see if I can help (no promises, of course.) chemjobber -at- gmaildotcom.

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  14. See Arr Oh, the median salary is only for "Full Time Permanent" according to the survey. This would look even a more massive steaming pile if they included postdoc "salaries". I know very few people who are offered the NIH minimum $37k right out of school. Under the guise of budget issues and pay freezes, they are also offered the same lowball salary their second..and third years of "further study".

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  15. @Anon7:48 - Thanks for pointing that out...I missed that description. I guess that's a bit more reasonable, then. Although, you are correct when you say that there's perfectly qualified chemists out there laboring for less than a B.S. permanent / yr, which is sad.

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  16. •Check out the unemployment rates for B.S./M.S./Ph.D. graduates: 15%, 19% and 9%. What happened to "new M.S. chemists are most employable?"

    Were they ever the most employable? Or is it more of the scenario of the grass is always greener on the other side? BS chemists get the MS thinking it will help them get a job, PhD candidates leave with a MS thinking it will help them get a job. With more people complaning loudly about the PhD, supply for MS chemists is soaring.

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  17. I'm in the same position as spoons, graduating with BS in Chemistry in May. I've put in countless apps, and there's even a large chemical company in my hometown, but alas, nothing. I'm hoping a little nepotism might get me some luck, but I'm not counting on it. I love chemistry, but looking at these numbers, it looks like I"m going to hate my life come November when the student loan bills first come in and all I can say is "Hi, welcome to Wal-Mart"

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  18. @VSPER: Dude(tte), have you applied for "mundane" analytical jobs at your municipal water/sewer control or at medical diagnostic labs? What about offering yourself to the pimps at Aerotek or Kelly Sci?

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  19. VSEPR, same to you: e-mail me at chemjobber -at- gmaildotcom and let me see how I can help. No promises, of course.

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  20. Anonymous: My hometown doesn't have any sort of online database for open positions, but from my understanding those positions are very much a "good ol' boys" system. I haven't been home in a while to go down there and ask, but I think I'll check it out.

    I've put in apps through Aerotek, Kelly Sci, and On Assignment but those have not turned up any leads yet. I was forwarded some leads today that I followed up on, so we'll see where those go. Put in an app for another position at said large chemical company as well.

    Chemjobber: e-mail will come shortly!

    I'm the only chemistry major graduating from my college that is going into the work force. Everyone else is grad school or premed. I've felt very much "out of the loop" in terms of getting any sort of assistance from faculty in career guidance, and the folks career development almost soiled their pants when I told them I wasn't some sort of business major. "We've never had anyone come in for chemistry before." There's been improvement in assistance by faculty recently, but I still feel as though I get the cold shoulder at times.

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  21. I'm working at a temp assignment through aerotek- the pay is terrible, zero benefits, and after eight months of this the company that brought me in as a temp decided they aren't hiring any new permanent employees after all (last quarter they recorded the highest profit in the history of the company).
    There is an oversupply of chemists, probably at all levels. More and more companies seem to be realizing this and slashing salaries and benefits (which of course is happening to every sector of the workforce).
    I'm thinking about grad school... and how I might be better off going to law school or an MBA program instead.
    Last note: based on my research on jobs in demand in "science and engineering", what companies really need are competent computer engineers. Anyone graduating with a science degree these days really ought to take as many comp. sci. classes as they can, and make sure they know how to program. You may not end up doing science but you will probably actually have a job.

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  22. @CJ: There never seems to be good news anymore.

    @A7:32: There is a lot of overproduction in all fields. Lawyers are having a very tough time finding jobs. Additionally, many are in debt because of law school. At least a Ph.D. program pays you.

    No matter what your interests or field of study, only the best graduates from the best programs will get the most coveted jobs in chemistry.

    I think Einstein said it best: "You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anybody else."

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  23. ACS and CEN sugar coat the stats. It's even worse than they show. They don't collect U-6 unemployment data, meaning they count everyone in temp jobs as being "employed". Chemistry is NOT a viable career anymore. Many of you are still in denial and don't want to admit it because you are all to scared to face the fact that you wasted many decades of your lives studying something that is useless. Not even every chemist belongs to the ACS, and even amongst ACS members, not all members respond to employment surveys. I also find it laughable that they consider PhDs in post doc positions as being "employed". PhDs these days go on for years, heck maybe even a decade constantly relocating in hopes of finding low paying post doc after low paying post doc. Look at all the jobs out there for chemists, 90% of them are probably terrible low paying permatemp jobs doing quality control or mind numbing method development for $12/hr. I will never let my child study science. I'd rather let them become a stripper, it'll ruin their lives less.

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