Thursday, November 15, 2012

36.8% of chemistry Ph.D.s work outside of science and engineering?

From a comment on In The Pipeline, I tracked down this interesting chart in the Biomedical Workforce Task Force report (a.k.a. the Tilghman report) from earlier this year. It's on page 62. It has some interesting numbers, especially this chart on the fate of Ph.D. chemists.

I note that the chart says that the number of doctorates is "weighted", whatever that means. Also, the data is from NSF SESTAT (the statistics service of NSF) and the 2003 (?) or 2005 (?) National Survey of College Graduates. The chart in the report is really grainy, so I copied all the percentages to a Google spreadsheet and redid the chart above.


  1. You can add the 14% pre-college teachers to that. Not that it's not a good job, but it really doesn't need a PhD.

  2. I wish I could get even some volunteer work in a lab. I know this article is regarding Ph.D's, but I'm kind of at a block on the undergraduate level. I was accepted to my university originally for biochemistry, but my schedule was horrible: 16+ hours of upper-division labs a week (& that was only 6 units of my total workload). I ended up having to change majors to chemistry (BA). I should have never been accepted without all of the pre-req's completed, but I was confident because community college was easy, & my counselor didn't mention how the odds were not in my favor. Anyways, the damage was done, but I had completed the degree requirements, and I'm expecting about a 2.30 GPA when I graduate in 1 month. Even with a terrible schedule, I still attempted to email the entire chemistry department & half of the Bio department for research/intern opportunities (throughout my 2+ years there), & I either was ignored or shot down every time. So I have a LOW GPA & ZERO extra-curricular lab experience.

    Anyone have any idea's on how I can move forward from here? Literally, anywhere??? Like how to go about a professional degree [Pharm/Vet/Dentist/anything health related] or graduate degree program WITH such a damaged record? I don't think I could get into a post-bacc program because they are pretty competitive, right? Is this just kind of a dead degree now? or can I still pull something useful out of it? I'm almost 24, & starting college over (double majoring) doesn't sound too appealing, & I don't even know if that is still an option if I did want to.

    I feel like I'm farther from a career than when I graduated high-school. I know I just have to work with what I got though. I'm looking at all the pieces, & I just don't know where I can go from here, so I thought maybe I would ask you fellow bloggers for some advice? insight? a reality check? I'd appreciate anything constructive really. Thanks

    1. AnotherAnonScientistNovember 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      Here is an idea that is a little less appealing with you being so close to graduating, but you can transfer to a different university. You'll probably have to spend another year pursing a degree, but your previous GPA will be mostly wiped from the record. It's not going to help much for a graduate or professional program (to my knowledge they look at the entirety of your academic history), but you will be able to put your new, higher GPA on your resume without lying. Just be careful with this because if your previous institution's credits are not accepted, you'll be in a situation where you may well be restarting a degree.

  3. Well, i had some similar issues with my undergrad GPA and not much experience. I didn't find any jobs either. The only things i had success with were: (a) getting temp lab jobs from one of the agencies specializing in tech work (and trying to go temp-to-perm), and/or (b) going to a local university's MS program (one of the Cal State system, easier to get into than a UC PhD program) which had evening courses and student work-study at the state labs in the area. That let me rebuild an academic record and get new recommendation letters as well as some more experience.