Monday, September 28, 2015

$26.25/hr for a PhD contractor at Merck?

Via the Chemistry Reddit (and @nano_Kyle on Twitter), an ad for a Ph.D. contractor at what is likely to be Merck, with a 7 month contract.

This $26.25/hr has got to be a mistake, right? Right?

So, the question that I have for you folks is this: do you know of contractor wages for pharmaceutical companies? Is this a low offer? or is this par for the course? 

25 comments:

  1. If there was ever a position that deserved a buttscan, it would be this one.

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  2. Midwest AgChem company. Fresh out of grad school with MS Chem degree was $25/hr. (no health ins. or 401k match) back in 2012. So yes, I'd say that low (especially for NJ).

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  3. This is low and ridiculous! First position out of grad school was as a industrial postdoc. I worked for a small biotech in Bay Area for $42/hr in 2013 (approx. $90k salary). Just like everyone else, I find this type of add to be a slap in the face.

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  4. I took a year off in the middle of grad school to do an internship at a major pharma. Pay was $27/hr.

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  5. I ran into something similar a couple of years ago. This is not the base pay Merck is offering. Merck is offering $35 per hour for this position. This ad is being solicited by a head hunter service and they are taking a 28% or greater cut for submitting your resume to Merck. This is a pretty good example of why you should not allow these head hunter services to submit your resume for you. By doing so you lose out on pay and your ability to negotiate for a pay increase. If you interested in the position, you should contact someone who works at Merck (or any company) so that your resume can be submitted. Once you go through the interview (if you are selected) you will be put in contact with Merck's (or other company) in house contractor. The in house contractor will still take a cut, but it will be substantially lower (at about 10% to 12%).

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    1. In fact you can directly apply for this position through Merck: http://jobs.msd.com/MSD/job/Rahway-Sr_-Scientist%2C-Chemistry-Job-NJ-07065/269877800/

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  6. This ad has been floating around for a while.

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  7. I came fresh out of undergrad as a contractor at a pharmaceutical company, made 25/hr as a B.S. Chemist.

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  8. BS - same here, although it was in 2004.

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  9. IMHO it is an unthinking combination of HR that does not give a fuck with a staffing agency that rally does not give one. Also, I found myself without a job in 2010 and 2011. I saw firsthand how terribly useless were staffing agencies, they were really contributing to the problem.
    Since then I decided 1. never ever apply for a job through an agency 2. Avoid CROs and large pharma companies, unless desperate. I realize it drastically reduces the number of openings but it also eliminates most of the really shitty ones/

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  10. It is better than postdoc pay. Or at least it's better than 18 dollars an hour. I would probably do it if I was unemployed and bored and running out of money. I was unemployed for a bit, but I had some savings so I was busy with learning languages, hiking, playing football, and video games. Lost a ton of weight at the time due to physical activity and lack of stress. I would not take a job like this that would take me away from all that. They either needed to wait until my savings were getting low, or improve the offer.

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    1. Envy. Hiking, learning a language, and playing video games...how wonderfully hedonistic!

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    2. Yes, you make it sound that unemployment is fun. For me, I'd love it, if it wasn't for the social stigma and the penury.

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    3. Let me guess: you're in Europe, right?

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    4. I remember it being incredibly hard not to feel guilty for every waking moment not spent looking for a job, but relaxing periodically did help with the search.

      (My job is stressing me out beyond belief right now. I would like to drop everything and go for a hike but it's not gonna happen.)

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    5. If you're young and don't have responsibilities, being unemployed might not be that bad. People I knew quit their jobs to walk the Appalachian Trail, for example, but they didn't have kids (or a house) to worry about.

      Being older in a contracting field (where even if it weren't contracting employers would prefer cheaper, more easily abused labor)...that would be less fun, even without entanglements.

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    6. I was downsized in 2009 and was darn close to claiming my 99 weeks and travelling the world at taxpayer expense (carefully being sure to submit crappy resumes fast enough to please the UI office...and if I get an interview, free trip!). Instead, I accepted the job I applied for the day after I was laid off (through a staffing agency no less), was hired full-time a few months later, and then transferred abroad to the parent company a couple years after that. Only had time for two of those free trips...sniff.

      I now spend my weekends hiking mountains all around Japan, every day learning a foreign language, more time than my wife would like playing video games, and getting paid too much for it. Life is good sometimes.



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    7. Yeah, I was in Europe at the time I became unemployed. I wasn't a citizen of the country, so I was not eligible for unemployment benefits. That, and the fact that my apartment was in a good neighborhood and kind of expensive, compounded a bit to the stress, but I calculated that I would be fine for a year+, and my wife still had a job.

      I read some articles on unemployment before, so I was worried about the stigma and feeling guilty, and early on I decided not to do that. Just don't think like that as it would lead to depression and enjoy my time off instead. I don't know what would of actually happened to my mental state if I actually ran out of money. Probably nothing good. It happened two times in my life before I got the PhD and I got really desperate and just went out into the city and on Craigslist looking for day jobs. That led to some really crappy jobs. I was turned away at a construction site because I couldn't speak Spanish and they got too suspicious... but it was probably for the best since I'm afraid of heights.

      I had a lot of local friends while unemployed so I did things together with them. There was also a kiosk with cheap beer near the old university where the postdocs and locals went. One of the locals was unemployed since forever due to being found legally insane, as he told me over some beer, and getting a very low monthly payment. So I figured if he was happy, I should be too with more money. Plus the parents were on another continent, so they are not there every day to judge you. It's true that I didn't have many responsibilities and no health issues (like Hap says). Then again, I know an unemployed local who also has two kids and is taking his time looking for a job. I even found some interview for him at a startup, but he bombed it. Saw him at a few BBQ parties and he seemed pretty happy.

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    8. "Legally insane"? Wow, I wonder how many of us meet those criteria?

      Sounds like you made it through with mental health intact.

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    9. Agreed. I figure he may have not been too insane if Our Uncle was willing to befriend him.

      I'm wondering if immigrants in European PhD programs are common, and do immigrants typically want to stay in the host country? Also, how do native Europeans respond to immigrants wanting to stay in the native country for a job? Supportive or pissed that they have to compete with the immigrant?

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    10. Interesting. I, too, lost weight while unemployed, only in my case it was due to having to ration groceries.

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    11. The 'legally insane' guy never got a university degree. He was declared insane right after high school after some psychotic episodes. He just liked to come to the cheap beer place to hang out with the foreign scientists. Couldn't drink any alcohol since it would cause psychosis or something, and he spoke really good English.

      "I, too, lost weight while unemployed, only in my case it was due to having to ration groceries."

      Really sorry to hear that. I don't want to make it sound like unemployment is all roses, and Hap pointed out some logical gaps in my approach. That could have been me as well if my unemployment lasted a year longer. Then I would have taken the position advertised here.

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    12. That's okay... I, too, was in the grocery rationing category, but I am grateful to have had a little extra time to bond with my children. Turns out, playgrounds are least crowded on weekdays. Unemployment can be a mixed experience, and to some extent, we can choose how we cope with it. It sounds like you were fortunate and handled yours well.

      As an aside, there are all kinds of fun life lessons incidental to unemployment. When rationing groceries, for instance, I discovered there was no sickness like that contracted from picking the last piece of uneaten grilled cheese sandwich off a toddler's plate. Germy little monkeys! (I was probably going to discover this sooner or later, regardless.)

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  11. You could always take the job to get those "skills that Americans don't have." Then after you get "those skills", you can listen to people say "we need more PhDs from India because Americans don't have the skills we need.

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  12. @ CJ: Yea, I did my stint there as a contractor at Merck but then that was six years back! I went through "hiring agency" and after their cut I was in the vicinity of $46.00/hr before the taxes! Ironically the hiring agencies cut was approximately 40% of the total so that works out to $ 76.00 or so. I was a Ph.D with 10+ years in pharma at that time. That $26.25 we are talking is indeed low (Is it after tax and assuming that it works out to nearly 46.00 that I got it?). Anyway, Merck is known to set the bar lower!

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