You have your PhD. Now what?
Hopefully most doctoral students try think about that well before they complete their PhD. Either way, this infographic drawn from data from post-doctoral fellows in the USA makes for interesting reading –
The full-size image can be seen on the acsb (American Society for Cell Biology) blog; I have excerpted the relevant portions below for easier viewing.
The general pattern shown bears some resemblance to that in other countries – I’ve shown charts for New Zealand and the UK near the end of the article.
The tenured (or tenure-track) academic career position is reached by a minority of Ph.D. graduates; a majority say this is their preferred option –
There is a fairly heavy early exit, with fewer than half of starting PhD students going onto post-doctoral positions –
Most do find jobs that relate to science, but a substantial number (eventually) move out of science entirely –
The post-doc portion of the data is cyclic, with a large minority doing more than one post-doc.
There is considerably more data, graphs and discussion arising from these, including:
- Education: The PhD Factory (second in list above)
- Science PhD Career Preferences: Levels, Changes and Advisor Encouragement, Sauerman and Roach, PLoS One, 2012.
- The June 2012 Biomedical Research WG Report (PDF file). The page hosting this link also offers a simpler boxed form of the infographic presented above. A short summary of this report is also available (PDF file; also presented in the full report).
- The Postdoc Experience: High Expectations, Grounded in Reality, Kendall Powell, Science 2012.
- You could also try some of my earlier posts on this general topic, list at the end.
The ascb blog indicates that better data may be available once the NAS (National Association of Science) post-doc report is available.
For comparison I have brought forward two of the graphics from when I last wrote on this subject below.
For New Zealand, less than 2% of graduates become professors –
(For those from outside of New Zealand or other (former) British Commonwealth nations, professor in New Zealand follows the British scheme.)
The UK shows a similar trend, but with a larger exodus from permanent research staff –
Early next month (May, 2014) the 2014 Early Career Researchers meeting will be held in Wellington. At least three of the break-away groups examine science outside of academia (‘Non-academic use of research’, ‘Industrial scientists’ and ‘Working outside the government cash flow’).
Hat-tip to Alex / Lab & Field via twitter (@thelabandfield)
Some career-related posts on Code for life: