Friday, July 29, 2016

The job growth rate for university chemistry teachers is faster than that of chemists?

A weird conundrum - the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as many of you know, issues employment projections every two years.

You know that chemist positions are expected to increase 3% between 2014 and 2024; this is well-below the 7% expected for all positions in the US labor economy.

As many of you know, chemistry professors are not included in that number for "chemists". They're defined as "chemistry teachers, postsecondary." What I did not know until yesterday: these positions are expected to increase by 15% from 2014 to 2024.

Of course, this projection cannot be taken in isolation. We do not know the projected wages for the positions, whether they are all full-time tenure-track positions at research universities (extremely unlikely) or if they're mostly adjunct positions (quite possible.) Also, these are projections - and these projections have certainly not borne out for chemists for the last 15 years.

So - does anyone have an answer for this? I think it's quite a little puzzle. 

14 comments:

  1. I'll bet they are mostly adjunct. Not sure what the statistics for chemistry-only are, but overall adjuncts are now teaching > 76% of all college classes (US). Yet they make only ca. $1K per credit hour per semester (do I have that right?). As a result the average adjunct annual salary is $20-25K. Think about that when you go to write that check to pay for your kid's college tuition - like I am doing now. Colleges and universities are squeezing every penny they can get out the teaching staff and students/parents.

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  2. I work at a well known mid size state university. As our state funding has been cut over the years, it has been determined that the best way to get more money is to increase enrollment. Real plans are in place to add 10,000 more students in the next couple of years. As they plan for more students, they are planning for more faculty. I'm sure this is not the only place where this is happening but that could account for part of the increase.

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    1. I was recently sitting in a meeting to discuss building renovations in our department. The guy in charge of space allocation gave us two choices to fund the project: Increase enrollment or get more donors. The department's solution? Start working on starting up a PhD program. "sigh"

      I'm not convinced that this is sustainable or even in the best interests of students or faculty. The glut of PhDs is well-documented, and asking PUI faculty to start bringing in Ivy League levels of money is ridiculous. I'm starting to think that the job security afforded by tenure should be used to speak out against this kind of irresponsible and illogical growth.

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    2. "I'm not convinced that this is sustainable or even in the best interests of students or faculty"

      But it is in the interest of the top administrators (more students/$ = more prestige and higher paying position down the line) and it's their best interests that count.

      Delete
    3. They are definitely focusing on undergrad where I'm at, although I'm sure increases in grad attendance is coming too.

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    4. Anon @ 9:34 am.

      Wow, that is creepy because our department is in exactly the same situation (Western US university with a PUI focus).
      Increase enrollment or grants, or lose your lab space.

      Delete
  3. I've worked in both sides of the undergraduate teaching racket (first as a term-by-term adjunct for three years; am now tenure-track at a large public PUI). I suspect they're projecting the growth in health-related careers will drive up the demand for chemistry instructors, since such degrees usually require at least some chemistry. In my adjunct days at a community college, probably 50% of our chemistry classes were filled with pre-nursing, pharmacy tech, and physical therapy students...all high-growth job areas. So those students are the reason I had a job, but it was a low-paid temporary job to be taken away on a whim.

    Bottom line: there will be an increasing number of underpaid, precarious faculty positions in which you're teaching zoned-out wannabe dental hygienists how to find percent yield. I've been there, and I'm very thankful a lucky roll of the dice got me someplace better.

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    1. This is changing, though. M.D. programs have recently advised students to replace their 2nd semester of Organic with a semester of biochem, the MCAT has changed to reflect this, and it seems only a matter of time before other health-related professional programs follow suit to focus less on chemistry and more on topics more directly related to providing health care services. I'm not saying I disbelieve the 15% number in the short term, but I wonder whether trends in the education market support it for college-level chemistry educators.

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  4. "Bottom line: there will be an increasing number of underpaid, precarious faculty positions in which you're teaching zoned-out wannabe dental hygienists how to find percent yield. I've been there, and I'm very thankful a lucky roll of the dice got me someplace better."

    Faculty here. Bingo!
    Don't forget, as the older TT professoriate retire, you can replace one FT faculty with two easily-controlled-non-rock-the-boat-no-time-to-develop-pedagogy-or-research-ideas adjuncts (doubling the employment rate) for half the total wages!

    Capitalism FTW!

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    Replies
    1. "Crony" capitalism, comrade.

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    2. corny capitalism corn-rade

      Delete
  5. Writing a resume in not rocket science. Writing a killer resume – one that rocks – will take a little bit more work. See more good resume title

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can barely speak proper English, I'm not taking resume tips from you.

      Yes, I realize that this is just spam, but this was just too much for me to ignore today.

      Delete
  6. "Bottom line: there will be an increasing number of underpaid, precarious faculty positions in which you're Bottom line: there will be an increasing number of underpaid, precarious faculty positions in which you're teaching zoned-out wannabe dental hygienists how to find percent yield zoned-out wannabe dental hygienists how to find percent yield."

    Those who do become dental hygienist s do fairly well financially. Perhaps better than their chemistry instructors. And I doubt many have ever calculated a percent yield on the job.

    http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/dental-hygienist/salary

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