Thursday, January 6, 2011

Earnings of Post-Docs

Felix Salmon links to this post from the Economist and extracts this rather amazing statistic:

In Canada 80% of postdocs earn $38,600 or less per year—the average salary of a construction worker.

Mark has previously quoted from the same post. But I do think that post-doctoral training is a very interesting place to look at; the PhD program is educational and credentialing in a way that the post-doctoral process is not. In a sense, a PhD student is being partially compensated by acquiring their degree, which in theory can open up many career options (only some of which are academic). But a post-doctoral fellow is focused entirely on academics. So long as the success rate among post-doctoral fellow is high, the post-doc can be considered to be an internship. But if the success rate gets too low then the issue of exploitation comes up.

On the other hand, if the post-doctoral fellowship is a time of enrichment and job satisfaction is very high then maybe it is okay. I'm sure I would prefer to be a post-doc than a construction worker, myself. It's a tough issue . . .

1 comment:

  1. A PhD can theoretically open up many career options, but you're still expected to claim "a career in teaching/academic research" as your reason for entering the program, nevermind what your actual career goals are. And then it is said that programs are "failing their students" because they aren't providing enough academic teaching jobs, because 90% of PhD candidates want to teach, etc.