Author Topic: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries  (Read 9330 times)

physistachian

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Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« on: August 11, 2015, 08:54:04 AM »
Hello, Mustachians! I'm a long-time lurker, but this is my first time actually posting. I'm hoping to find a little advice on my job hunt, so here are the details.

I'm closing in on the end of a (seemingly never-ending) Ph.D. in experimental physics at the beginning of my thirties. When things settle a little bit, I hope to post a case study to make sure I'm moving in the right direction, but for now I'm concentrating on starting a real career. After seeing the state of the academic job market (abysmal), and realizing that I wanted more control over my destiny and geographic location, I've started looking for so-called "industry" positions. These could be private research or engineering, but many positions I've found seem to be related to scientific equipment sales. I am focusing my search in the northeast, since that's where I would like to be living.

My specific question is: what kind of starting salary should a new-minted Ph.D. be getting in the private sector, and in this region? Academia has such bizarre pay structures (often abusively low) that I have a poor sense of my value in the market. Sales roles, in particular, are a little hard for me to evaluate. If you have walked a similar path, any other input would be welcome, too! And if I can add detail or clarify, I'm happy to do so.

Thanks!

vhalros

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2015, 09:36:44 AM »
Do you have any programming skills (many physics PhDs end up with some, depending on the track they take)? I think I could get a job right now by standing in the road with a sign that says "I know how to use semaphores."  The market is such that you might get a position even with out a CS background, if you can demonstrate some programming skills.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 09:43:01 AM by vhalros »

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2015, 10:14:23 AM »
Knitting dark matter potholders from string-theory strings does not a career make.  ;-)

I'd suggest you:
1)  Follow your JOY / HAPPINESS,
2)  Target your desired geographic area , and
3)  Use Glassdoor.com to research that area for salaries in jobs you're interested in. 

physistachian

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2015, 10:39:56 AM »
vhalros: I have worked with a few programming languages, and I can code, but I wouldn't say I'm a skilled programmer. Since I am an experimentalist rather than a theorist, coding has always been just a way to get things done, not something I specialized in. I would probably have to take one of those "coding academy" courses to be useful on that front.

Mother Fussbudget: As for salary searching, I should have mentioned that I do use Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Glassdoor in particular has been great for finding job opportunities (and LinkedIn surprisingly less useful), but similar-looking jobs are thin enough that I haven't been able to find really solid salary information. Being liberal with job titles, I think I'm seeing mid-$60k to mid-$80k as the rough range. The confusing thing is, I've seen some entry-level sales jobs for people just out of college have average salaries closer to $100k, so I don't know what to think. (That company in particular had reviews saying that they can be soulless and tend to cause burnout, plus they specifically were looking for recent college grads, so I'm looking elsewhere unless the hunt goes poorly.) Thank you for your encouragement!

galaxie

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2015, 10:43:01 AM »
You might also consider defense jobs and non-academic laboratories (Lincoln, Draper, etc.) if you aren't super excited about sales.  My PhD is in engineering, but that was my first job post-graduation, for similar reasons.

ETA: I think the money would be better, too.

physistachian

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2015, 10:49:50 AM »
galaxie: Lincoln Labs and Draper are both on my list. I tried to apply to them earlier, thinking that they might operate on the academic post-doc schedule of hiring close to a year out. That didn't work, so I plan to try again once I stop taking data (hopefully in a few weeks!). Doing research would be nice, and better money never hurt my savings rate!

GreenPen

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2015, 11:10:00 AM »
Congrats on finishing your PhD!

In addition to what you are already doing -- I would recommend using whatever career services are available to you at your university.

Departments themselves usually do a terrible job getting graduate students ready for non-academic jobs. So as painful as it may be, it's worth having someone from outside of your department look over your resume/cv and also your LinkedIn profile. I did this once, and it was incredibly helpful. People from outside academia do a much better job pitching your past experience, using all of the important keywords and such.

Bob W

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2015, 11:58:51 AM »
Wow experimental physics!  Outstanding --- Could you share with us all how that cat in the box turned out? 

AZDude

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2015, 12:01:19 PM »
This is *very* anecdotal, but a friend of a friend with a masters degree in physics got a pretty cushy job working with a defense contractor, making $90K+.

greenleaf

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2015, 12:24:51 PM »
I worked with several PhDed physicists in finance (my PhD is an unrelated area of CS) in the northeast area, including my boss's boss and one fairly close coworker at the time I left.  For the place I worked, it helped to have taken one or two finance classes on the side while doing the PhD, and basic coding was a required skill (at the level of a non-CS scientist).  If you have people and presentation ability in combination with serious quant/stats skills there are places looking for that.  Our hiring plan for at least half the positions filled while I was working there was find someone like that (like a scientist with a good personality in a field with a  bad job market) and teach them the finance part. 

Finance will pay more than your other options and is a good way to FIRE, but I had no interest in it beyond the paycheck after a very brief interesting period where I was learning new things. I think finance made me a more negative and cynical person, but it really wasn't a bad job (good boss, some flexibility, etc.) and I can't say I regret it because of the freedom I have now.  I actually managed a return to academia (which is highly unusual) and will be starting the new job very soon, so we'll see how that compares.

Data science (essentially statistics on big data sets) is another field you may want to consider if you have a related background. 

forummm

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2015, 12:26:44 PM »
DOE and national labs are other possible employers to consider. Their salaries are easily knowable.

Or you could be a reporter for Planet Money.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Kestenbaum

blub

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2015, 03:13:13 PM »
I finished a Ph.D in theoretical physics in 2012. I went into software development and my starting salary was just over $100k (southern California), though I had quite a bit of experience programming as a hobby.

physistachian

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2015, 03:27:31 PM »
GreenPen: I did talk to career services, and they had a few useful suggestions regarding the CV/ resume. Unfortunately, when it comes to actually finding a job they really only know how to help undergraduates.

Bob W: I was curious about the cat, too, but I was to afraid of killing it to open the box...

These suggestions and salary numbers are exactly what I was hoping for. It sounds like I've at least covered my bases in terms of where to look. Thanks!

Trede

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2015, 03:47:17 PM »
It's not northeast and I don't know your particular brand of experimental physics, but Argonne National Lab's got some opening for a few post-docs and an assistant physicist: https://www1.aps.anl.gov/Job-Openings/X-ray-Science-Division

After my PhD, the only job I could find at a decent salary (long since relevant as a data point for you) was a post-doc at Argonne.  I took it, and six months later got an industry call.  I didn't feel too guilty about moving over, since the area I had interviewed and accepted the post-doc for hadn't actually been funded yet (key interview skill of asking specific questions learned, thank you very much).

So, consider post-docs as a stepping stone if needed.  Finding your perfect spot as a PhD can sometimes take awhile.  Good luck!

I'm a red panda

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2015, 04:18:35 PM »
Congratulations on your PhD.

I hope you are able to find a job that meets your salary expectations. I can't help you out on what they should be- but my husband is a PhD Medicinal Chemist, and he makes the same I do- with a Master's in Education (just about the most common graduate degree that isn't an MBA).  I really think he should make more, but apparently the market disagrees. 

I think a lot of PhDs in sciences (I'm not sure liberal arts has this delusion) think they are a magic key to money, and they often aren't.

I agree with those who suggest looking into defense. You can make good money as a government contractor.  If you are willing to relocate you will likely do much better than if you stick to one region, even if you go private sector.

mrshudson

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2015, 10:42:47 AM »
Congratulations. I myself am a PhD, although more applied physics rather than straight out pure/basic physics. I decided to go the route of non-traditional PhD careers, because I'm atypical when it comes to most things in life. So I stayed away from academia which, you are right, are more abusive places to work than some corporations. The corporate R&D scientist role doesn't fit me either, and  I love picking apart arguments, so I chose to go with patent law. I find it a downright drain of my brain power on bad days and incredibly fun and keeping me engaged in thoughtful ideas on very good days, with most days being somewhere on the middle. If I had to choose again, I probably wouldn't have chosen anything other than going into patent law. The pay is very, very good, and schedules are super flexible (within reason). Look for working for companies, rather than law firms, as the pay scale in the latter can be very variable. Glassdoor salaries are meaningful representations, and there can be regional variations. PM if you need more info. 

If you don't mind traveling while working, you might also consider working for a company like McKinsey or other consulting companies which hire people from diverse backgrounds with high level of training (such as a PhD). Believe me when I say this, a homogeneous work place is probably the last place on the planet to work if you want your work to be challenging. So that's another option out there.

Wow experimental physics!  Outstanding --- Could you share with us all how that cat in the box turned out? 

You do know the difference between a thought-experimental physicist  and an actual experimental physicist, right?

mrshudson

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2015, 10:53:16 AM »
I think a lot of PhDs in sciences (I'm not sure liberal arts has this delusion) think they are a magic key to money, and they often aren't.


PhDs are highly specialized and trained, and it is the highest degree that is awarded in most, if not all countries. In the U.S., science PhDs make up about 0.1% of all adults (vs 30% of all adults with bachelors degrees). So it's not fair to call it a delusion, nor are the expectations unreasonable.

Moreover, PhD has an opportunity cost associated with it, in the sense that a Masters graduate with a few years of experience will probably make the same as a brand new PhD. Most PhDs can't expect to make that kind of salary right away out of school with no job experience. On the other hand, the PhDs that do make it to R&D leadership roles (R&D chief research scientist, research director or similar roles) probably turn out to be best compensated employees in an organization that are not C-Suite level executives. Also, PhD chemists are about the lowest paid PhDs in all of sciences. So that comparison of yours isn't meaningful at all nor is a data point (a highly biased data point at that) of one any useful indicator of a larger systematic trend.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 10:55:12 AM by mrshudson »

I'm a red panda

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2015, 11:01:44 AM »
I don't have a single data point, and yes- it is antecdotal; but I know many many people with PhDs in chemistry, physics, and engineering. I'm a rarity in my group of friends and work colleagues for not having a PhD. 

The engineers all seem to be doing well.
The biology, physics and chemistry graduates mostly get stuck in a loop of post-doc hell. It takes many of them multiple post-docs to finally secure industry positions, and academia is even harder.

My husband is not a new PhD, and my Masters degree is actually newer than his PhD. So our salary comparison is fair. He is also a medicinal chemist, which makes more money than someone with a straight chemistry degree (at least in this area).  However, if he had stayed in the Air Force, he'd be making a lot more money than he does since he left. He'd also probably be able to do a lot better if we moved; which we aren't going to do.

Quote
On the other hand, the PhDs that do make it to R&D leadership roles (R&D chief research scientist, research director or similar roles) probably turn out to be best compensated employees in an organization
The problem is, while as you pointed out PhDs are relatively rare, these positions are even rarer.  There are well more people with PhDs than there are high paying jobs to employ them in.   Perhaps, again, my view is slightly distorted because I work in a city with an incredibly high education rate (8% of the total population has a PhD), but my last company had secretaries with PhDs; many of whom are just hoping to get a foot in the door for when an opening might open up.  There are MANY unemployed PhDs in the world, and in the 'hard sciences' too.

Many people with PhDs make a lot of money; but it is NOT a magical key to it.  The best way to ensure strong employment opportunities is to be willing to relocate (which the OP seems to not want to do since s/he asked about a specific region).
« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 11:24:52 AM by iowajes »

Bob W

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2015, 11:17:45 AM »
Congratulations. I myself am a PhD, although more applied physics rather than straight out pure/basic physics. I decided to go the route of non-traditional PhD careers, because I'm atypical when it comes to most things in life. So I stayed away from academia which, you are right, are more abusive places to work than some corporations. The corporate R&D scientist role doesn't fit me either, and  I love picking apart arguments, so I chose to go with patent law. I find it a downright drain of my brain power on bad days and incredibly fun and keeping me engaged in thoughtful ideas on very good days, with most days being somewhere on the middle. If I had to choose again, I probably wouldn't have chosen anything other than going into patent law. The pay is very, very good, and schedules are super flexible (within reason). Look for working for companies, rather than law firms, as the pay scale in the latter can be very variable. Glassdoor salaries are meaningful representations, and there can be regional variations. PM if you need more info. 

If you don't mind traveling while working, you might also consider working for a company like McKinsey or other consulting companies which hire people from diverse backgrounds with high level of training (such as a PhD). Believe me when I say this, a homogeneous work place is probably the last place on the planet to work if you want your work to be challenging. So that's another option out there.

Wow experimental physics!  Outstanding --- Could you share with us all how that cat in the box turned out? 

You do know the difference between a thought-experimental physicist  and an actual experimental physicist, right?

I'm not sure?  Aren't they both a particle and a wave until you observe them?  I kid,  I kid -----

Dee18

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2015, 11:25:44 AM »
Many universities also employ phds in their licensing/patent review offices. I know the local one does.  It's a very stable 9-5 job with all the perqs of university life.

mrshudson

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2015, 11:26:58 AM »
I'm not sure?  Aren't they both a particle and a wave until you observe them?  I kid,  I kid -----

:) You mean, you are "uncertain"? (Bad pun on Heisenberg, I apologize)




mrshudson

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2015, 11:30:04 AM »
I don't have a single data point, and yes- it is antecdotal; but I know many many people with PhDs in chemistry, physics, and engineering. I'm a rarity in my group of friends and work colleagues for not having a PhD. 

The engineers all seem to be doing well.
The biology, physics and chemistry graduates mostly get stuck in a loop of post-doc hell. It takes many of them multiple post-docs to finally secure industry positions, and academia is even harder.

My husband is not a new PhD, and my Masters degree is actually newer than his PhD. So our salary comparison is fair. He is also a medicinal chemist, which makes more money than someone with a straight chemistry degree (at least in this area).  However, if he had stayed in the Air Force, he'd be making a lot more money than he does since he left. He'd also probably be able to do a lot better if we moved; which we aren't going to do.

Quote
On the other hand, the PhDs that do make it to R&D leadership roles (R&D chief research scientist, research director or similar roles) probably turn out to be best compensated employees in an organization
The problem is, while as you pointed out PhDs are relatively rare, these positions are even rarer.  There are well more people with PhDs than there are high paying jobs to employ them in.   Perhaps, again, my view is slightly distorted because I work in a city with an incredibly high education rate (8% of the total population has a PhD), but my last company had secretaries with PhDs; many of whom are just hoping to get a foot in the door for when an opening might open up.  There are MANY unemployed PhDs in the world, and in the 'hard sciences' too.

Many people with PhDs make a lot of money; but it is NOT a magical key to it.  The best way to ensure strong employment opportunities is to be willing to relocate (which the OP seems to not want to do since s/he asked about a specific region).

Was this a rebuttal of my post or a rant? If it's the former, please substantiate with facts and remove all personal anecdotes (that means any statement that has "my" in it).

mrshudson

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #22 on: August 12, 2015, 11:42:02 AM »
The best way to ensure strong employment opportunities is to be willing to relocate (which the OP seems to not want to do since s/he asked about a specific region).

All that OP mentioned was wanting more control of geographic location (which is not the same thing as unwilling to relocate). I read that as, academia doesn't provide you with geographic variability - most universities with research programs in the U.S. are located outside of big metros (like NYC, SFO, Chicago etc). Plus to land a R1 professor job, multiple postdocs are a must and it is not uncommon for PhDs to job hop their way across continents when doing postdocs (ergo the term "academic nomad"). Even specifying a preference for a geographic location is not the same thing as being unwilling to relocate.




Brilliantine

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2015, 12:34:02 PM »
It's great that you are considering industry positions. Depending on how soon you're getting your degree, you may be a little tardy to the job search party.

I'd suggest the technology sector. For instance Intel hires PhDs into research and process design positions on a regular basis with base salaries starting at 125k. Check them out.

sol

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2015, 01:33:03 PM »
My post- PhD job hunt is a few years old now, but I applied to 27 jobs and had four interviews and two offers.

University posts for recent PhDs were about 50k.  Less for post docs, which are sometimes a required first step.
Government posts started at about 70k.
Industry jobs were between 75 and 100k.

There were exceptions in every category, of cours, and pay scales after the first year accelerated more in industry jobs for those who made the cut.  Academic progression was slower and roughly half of new hires don't make tenure, and are thus back on the market six years later.

In all cases, it was clear to me that salaries could easily double in ten years for the most successful applicants.  Like any other job, you will make more money if you make your employer more money; it turns out that success in science is measured in dollars of grant money, not publications or accolades.

physistachian

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2015, 05:19:39 PM »
The best way to ensure strong employment opportunities is to be willing to relocate (which the OP seems to not want to do since s/he asked about a specific region).

All that OP mentioned was wanting more control of geographic location (which is not the same thing as unwilling to relocate). I read that as, academia doesn't provide you with geographic variability - most universities with research programs in the U.S. are located outside of big metros (like NYC, SFO, Chicago etc). Plus to land a R1 professor job, multiple postdocs are a must and it is not uncommon for PhDs to job hop their way across continents when doing postdocs (ergo the term "academic nomad"). Even specifying a preference for a geographic location is not the same thing as being unwilling to relocate.

Yes, mrshudson, I'm perfectly willing to relocate. I have a specific city preference, and a broader geographic region (Boston, and the Northeastern US, respectively) that I'm willing to move within. Even this early in my job search I've interviewed as far away as Rochester. I really don't think having a preference for a region that 1/6 of the US population lives in should be unreasonably narrow, but it certainly is in academia. I'm just hoping that industry allows me that "luxury". I'm very jealous of my friends in medical fields (other than MDs) who can pick a place to live (or move in!) and then find a job.

I didn't go into a PhD program for the salary, but I always thought there would be well-paying jobs available without having to move across continents. If that isn't true, I've truly wasted more years of my life than I care to think about.

physistachian

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2015, 05:27:14 PM »
University posts for recent PhDs were about 50k.  Less for post docs, which are sometimes a required first step.
Government posts started at about 70k.
Industry jobs were between 75 and 100k.

...

In all cases, it was clear to me that salaries could easily double in ten years for the most successful applicants.  Like any other job, you will make more money if you make your employer more money; it turns out that success in science is measured in dollars of grant money, not publications or accolades.

Thank you, sol. This kind of first-hand knowledge is very helpful, and seems to match what I see. Most academic postdocs I've heard of are in the ~$45k range, with government-sponsored (read: competitive and hard to get) ones being ~$70k. The second part of your quote is also very encouraging, although it makes me want to be careful that I don't button-hole myself into some sub-field that locks me out of advancement opportunities.

Bearded Man

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2015, 06:48:12 PM »
I think in a few years with some experience and the right jobs hops, you can get a leadership position somewhere. Executives love PhD's it seems, not uncommon to find them in top spots in organizations.


mrshudson

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2015, 09:02:18 PM »

Yes, mrshudson, I'm perfectly willing to relocate. I have a specific city preference, and a broader geographic region (Boston, and the Northeastern US, respectively) that I'm willing to move within. Even this early in my job search I've interviewed as far away as Rochester. I really don't think having a preference for a region that 1/6 of the US population lives in should be unreasonably narrow, but it certainly is in academia. I'm just hoping that industry allows me that "luxury". I'm very jealous of my friends in medical fields (other than MDs) who can pick a place to live (or move in!) and then find a job.

I didn't go into a PhD program for the salary, but I always thought there would be well-paying jobs available without having to move across continents. If that isn't true, I've truly wasted more years of my life than I care to think about.

Nope, you're right, it is not too narrow a geographic location. Hang in there, OP, in case you didn't intern during your PhD, the job search can seem daunting. Keep your options open, and don't buck down on salary negotiations. It seems like you lean toward the industry jobs, albeit the ones that are not hamster wheels. Do not feel like you don't have any leverage being fresh out of school and having "wasted" years. Eventually you will find something that fits and pays reasonably close to your expectations. Trust me, I know of literally no one, none of my cohorts of PhDs in the industry are underemployed/underpaid.

physistachian

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #29 on: August 13, 2015, 01:53:50 PM »
Nope, you're right, it is not too narrow a geographic location. Hang in there, OP, in case you didn't intern during your PhD, the job search can seem daunting. Keep your options open, and don't buck down on salary negotiations. It seems like you lean toward the industry jobs, albeit the ones that are not hamster wheels. Do not feel like you don't have any leverage being fresh out of school and having "wasted" years. Eventually you will find something that fits and pays reasonably close to your expectations. Trust me, I know of literally no one, none of my cohorts of PhDs in the industry are underemployed/underpaid.

Thank you for your encouragement! I've seen quite a few of my colleagues try to stay in academia, and they've either had to move to the middle of nowhere, get very low pay, or a combination while hopping from one postdoc to another. I'm very relieved to hear that the grass really is greener on the other side!

As to having leverage in salary negotiations: do you have any tips? I've read this excellent piece before, and found it helpful: http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

MrPink

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #30 on: August 13, 2015, 03:25:54 PM »
You've gotten a lot of good advice here so far but I'll put some in also.  Its good that you're willing to relocate.  I'm not sure how far south you're willing to come but the Philly area does have a number of good schools and industry.   

As other people have mentioned and as you know, PhDs are specialized but making it into leadership positions isn't daunting.  You just have to be really good at what you do.  Focus on what it is that you do best and make sure you do it as best you can.  Companies don't pay for 6s and 7s.  They pay for 9s and 10s.  Make sure your passion for your work comes through when you are interviewing.  Also, don't go the shotgun approach when applying for jobs.  Also, I would make sure that you have a very clear understanding of what type of job you want. 

Personalize your cover letter and sometimes even tweak your resume a little to highlight your qualifications for the position.  Make your LinkedIn profile a little bit different from your resume, perhaps even having a little edge to it.  Make sure there are no errors on your resume.  I've passed on countless candidates because of sloppy resumes.  I figure if you have a sloppy resume, what kind of work are you going to do for me?  When you interview, follow up with each person you interviewed with and thank them for their time.  Come prepared to the interview - do your homework on the company. 

I have a PhD in chemistry with a specialization in electrochemistry and I do sales.  I still manage to do some side research through collaborations with universities and government labs.  It is not pure R&D but I do get to talk electrochemistry everyday which is just about the most fascinating thing I could do for work in my mind.  I spend most of my days living vicariously through my customers and I am very comfortable with that. 

Salary negotiations are pretty straightforward.  If a company makes an offer it means that they want you.  Don't be afraid to ask for a little bit more but be able to justify it.  Pigs grow fat but hogs get slaughtered (or is it the other way around?).  Even if the company says no, you might be able to negotiate other things.  Again though, don't get too greedy or it can leave a bad taste in the employers mouth. 

Hopefully some of these things help.

mm1970

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2015, 10:03:38 AM »
Hello, Mustachians! I'm a long-time lurker, but this is my first time actually posting. I'm hoping to find a little advice on my job hunt, so here are the details.

I'm closing in on the end of a (seemingly never-ending) Ph.D. in experimental physics at the beginning of my thirties. When things settle a little bit, I hope to post a case study to make sure I'm moving in the right direction, but for now I'm concentrating on starting a real career. After seeing the state of the academic job market (abysmal), and realizing that I wanted more control over my destiny and geographic location, I've started looking for so-called "industry" positions. These could be private research or engineering, but many positions I've found seem to be related to scientific equipment sales. I am focusing my search in the northeast, since that's where I would like to be living.

My specific question is: what kind of starting salary should a new-minted Ph.D. be getting in the private sector, and in this region? Academia has such bizarre pay structures (often abusively low) that I have a poor sense of my value in the market. Sales roles, in particular, are a little hard for me to evaluate. If you have walked a similar path, any other input would be welcome, too! And if I can add detail or clarify, I'm happy to do so.

Thanks!
I second using glassdoor.

I'm in California.  Our PhD's are generally engineers, but with maybe an occasional material science person.  Physics, depending on the area of expertise, would also work.  This is semiconductors.

I'd say a typical starting salary here was about $80k when my spouse graduated, around 10-15 years ago.  I imagine that now it's more like $100k.  This is NOT the bay area, so salaries are on the low side.  You would expect a lot more there.

I cannot speak for equipment sales.  But in any event, I'd be looking at six figures + for an industry position, if you can do engineering type work.

I agree that engineers make more than scientists.  But many of my coworkers are engineers with science degrees, like physics and chemistry (though undergrad, not grad).
« Last Edit: August 14, 2015, 10:07:52 AM by mm1970 »

mrshudson

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #32 on: August 15, 2015, 10:46:12 AM »
OP, have an idea of what kind of a salary *YOU* would want. I normally don't like to put in a salary expectation when applying for the job. When they make an offer, they want you, and it will usually start off as, "what are your salary expectations". There are a few strategies - you could ask questions as to what would it typically be for that position, and then if it doesn't match your expectations, you could state so. Or you could alternatively give them a range. But only do so if you really know the range representative of how much the company pays.

physistachian

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #33 on: August 17, 2015, 01:33:21 PM »
Thanks again, everyone, for all the good advice! As I start sending out applications again, I'll definitely be looking over this thread for the good ideas and helpful reminders.

squatman

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #34 on: August 20, 2015, 12:26:00 PM »
Thanks again, everyone, for all the good advice! As I start sending out applications again, I'll definitely be looking over this thread for the good ideas and helpful reminders.

A few possibly repetitive thoughts from a recent engineering PhD:

- If you are interested in working and traveling a lot, consulting would be a great landing spot. The big firms (read: mckinsey/bain/bcg/etc) will pay you well above 100k base salary (see examples for post-grad starting salaries here: http://managementconsulted.com/consulting-salaries/2015-management-consulting-salaries-undergraduate-mba-interns/#), and you'll learn enough in 2 years to get a job doing all sorts of strategic work for a broad range of companies. You could also find a job at more boutique places for less hours/travel/pay, but my expertise there is in pharma/biotech so I'm less sure of where a physics person would fit in. I'm sure it's possible though!
- Are you interested in staying close to physics/your research or just applying the skills from your PhD? If it's the physics you want in a non-academic setting, defense stuff might be a decent option. If you just want to be a PhD in industry, many more doors open for you.
- you've already mentioned sales - I think your role there could be as a tech/scientific specialist for a specific product line. I know in pharma/medical devices they have roles for people who are similar to tech repair except they have very specialized knowledge of the equipment and underlying theory.
- have you been to the alternative phd careers group on linkedin? That group has 15k+ members - searching through that is bound to give you some good ideas for interesting job titles/companies.

Helping fellow PhDs find jobs outside of academia is a big personal interest of mine, so please let me/us know if we can be helpful in other ways as you go through the process.

Krolik

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #35 on: August 20, 2015, 02:30:58 PM »
My husband graduated with PhD in Nanotechnology (EE) . He never wanted to stay in academia and went straight to industry after graduation. His first job was around 90K. His current job pays mid-100s. His job is related to optical engineering.

If you want to work for industry don't do post doc. The longer you stay in academia after your PhD the less desired you will be for industry jobs. Education and higher degree is great but employers will most likely pick somebody with lower degree and experience over PhD candidate with no experience in industry. I would take lower salary just to get experience. PhD with industry experience will let you move up pretty quickly.



ysette9

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Re: Post-Ph.D. job hunting and salaries
« Reply #36 on: August 21, 2015, 09:59:27 AM »
I work in aerospace/defense, have done a lot of university recruiting, and am now a manager making hiring decisions for myself. I am an engineer and mostly interface with other engineers though we do also hire PhD scientists. From the anecdotal things I've observed it seems that the hiring process is a little more challenging for PhDs because you have spent so much time specializing in one small area. For the types of positions my company fills, I think emphasizing your broad skills (design of experiment, coding languages, data synthesis, technical communication, specialized laboratory instrumentation techniques) is a more effective way of marketing yourself. You are qualified for a wide range of positions out there but you need to spend a little more effort demonstrating that to the hiring manager. Definitely tailor your resume/CV and cover letter to each specific position. Make sure to not limit yourself in your search and get comfortable now with the idea that you may very well end up doing something unrelated to your research. That is okay.

Final thought (I promise): You are looking for your first job. The career will follow. You don't have to get this first job completely right because you can always work for two years and then move on to something else. Your career will likely take you places you can't even imagine from where you sit today. I know mine certainly has and that is why it is so fun!