Over at ChemJobber, there has been some interesting discussion about the derth of jobs for chemists, and many perspectives on why chemists are unemployed and what to do about it. I'm not a chemist, but I identify with the struggle- I was also trained to do something that isn't what industry wants, and am struggling to transition that technical experience into gainful employment. There is always a certain amount of finger pointing that "kids these days" can't get jobs because we are lazy, or that our professors pulled the wool over our eyes. What I like about Chemjobber is that he uses numbers whenever possible- and he pointed out a Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs projection report that he pulled data from to show the shrinkage of the chemists job market. Ouch.
So I went to look. I used the most recent version of the same report and found some interesting things. First of all, based on the career categories used by the BLS, I would consider myself a Medical Scientist (who is not an epidemiologist). My previous work was to research a human disease to improve human health. Directly from the BLS Jan 2012 Monthly Labor Review:
Life, physical, and social science occupations.
Most new jobs:
Medical scientists, except epidemiologists +36,400
Fastest growing (in percent):
Medical scientists, except epidemiologists +36.4
Fastest declining (in percent):
Forest and conservation technicians –1.0
Political scientists $107,420
BLS predicts and extra 36,000 jobs for Ph.D. or professional degree
carrying medical scientists in the next 20 years. It thinks the median
income for these will be above $70K.
At first blush, I was baffled- if 'medical science' is growing why don't I have a job? First, this are prediction from 2010-2020, so the growth is not over. But, as I read the report, I realized that what is needed is scientists with clinical experience. That's basically the missing piece in my job hunt. I'm not sure what to do about it, but it's refreshing to have some cold hard data to put up next to my experience.
Another interesting fact was from the table looking at employment by education level. BLS believes that 3.1% of the country had a Ph.D. or professional degree (MD, JD etc) in 2010, and that 3.2% will in 2020. The median income for these folks is $87,500/year. (For reference, the median income across all education levels is $33,000/year.)