What’s a PhD to Do These Days?

What's a PhD to Do These Days?

Is a PhD a disposable degree these days?
Not really, but with jobs scarce, grads are looking outside their chosen fields.

Overcrowded at the Top?

60,000: Number of PhDs in U.S. awarded annually (all fields)
800,000: Since 1982, PhDs awarded in science and engineering (S&E) fields
100,000: Number of academic faculty positions created in S&E fields during that same time period.
3,000: Number of S&E academic positions created annually
36,000: Number of PhDs specializing in S&E granted annually

Where the money is… Hint: it's not academia.

There was a time when students pursuing a PhD would find themselves in tenure track teaching positions, making any other option an "alternative" career path.
Today, tenure track positions are very difficult to come by.

Bureau of Labor Statistics:
70 percent of college faculties are made up of adjunct (part time) professors
1 in 3 college grads work in a job that doesn't require a college degree
61 % of STEM PhDs work in non academic jobs

More than 5,000 janitors have PhDs.

What percentage of PhDs find academic jobs by graduation? [20 year study]
Life sciences
2011: 9.4

Physical sciences:
1991: 11.7
2011: 9.1

Social sciences
1991: 26.9
2011: 26.5

1991: 6.9
2011: 5.1

1991: 33.4
2011: 36.4

1991: 44.0
2011: 39.4

Options for PhDs, in the Humanities

Higher education administration (i.e. teaching, writing, academic-student affairs)
Consulting (i.e. educational consulting)
Non profits (grant writing, researching, fundraising)
Financial services (statistics, research, programming)
Secondary school teaching (public, private, charter schools)
Academic and non-Academic publishing
Cultural and historical organizations (curatorial and research work)
U.S. Federal Government
Professional Research
International Development

Options for PhDs in Science and Technology:

Industry (research in pharma, bioteh, engineering, physical sciences)
U.S. Govt. (i.e. international development, system design, biological sciences)
Science policy, non-profit (influence national policy)
Secondary school teaching (mentor young scientists and engineers)
Scientific and Technical writing and publishing
Patents and intellectual property
Technology transfer (identifying technology that is appropriate for commercialization and supporting researchers in that process)
Consulting (system integration, outsourcing, IT strategies, web services, security)
Financial services (quants, stochastic calculus)

Or, you could become an actor, like…

Ken Jeong of the Hangover series (medical doctor)
Shaquille O'Neal (education degree)
Graham Chapman, of Monty Python (medical doctor)
Don S. Davis, of Stargate TV(doctorate in theater)
Robert Vaughn (doctorate in communications)
Harold Gould (doctorate in theater)
Haing S. Ngor (medical doctor, a surgeon)
Mayim Bialik (doctorate in neuro science)

Even better, become a pop star:

Robert Leonard, Sha Na Na (doctorate in linguistics)
Greg Graffin, Bad Religion lead singer (doctorate in zoology)
James Lilja, Offspring drumme (oncologist)
Brian May, Queen guitarist (astrophysics)
Sterling Morrison, Velvet Underground guitarist (doctorate in medieval studies)
Phil Alvin, The Blasters lead singer (doctorate in mathematics and artificial intelligence)
Warren Zanes, The Del Fuegos guitarist (doctorate in visual and cultural arts)