PhD-flooding into alternative careers

Sarah Boomer sarai at
Mon Nov 18 18:00:45 EST 1996

One of the interesting things I have seen in my networking, colleagues,
and job searches has been that more and more jobs like science/law or
science writing are experiencing "PhD flooding," for example.  That is to
say, as PhDs fail to find academic jobs and get retrained in writing or
law, in particular, they outcompete the non-PhDs in those fields.  Cases
in point:  the partner of a post doc in our lab has a masters in science,
several years of tech work in molecular biology, just finished her JD and
can't get a job in patent law because, in her words:  the PhD/JDs are
prefered (an exception to this is another friend of mine who has the MS in
molecular biology, worked in a company and then got the company to support
her JD while she works part time - obviously anticipating to work there as
a patent lawyer).  Another person in our lab is working basically
volunteer as she has come back to school for more biology training.  She
worked for the last five years in big science writing (both general public
journalism as well as technical writing for MD "white sheets - like review
articles for MDs on all topics).  She has basically returned for more
training because, again as she put it, the PhDs who have some technical
writing certificates or experience are outcompeting the non-PhDs in the
big science writing fields.

	These scenarios were reverberated on a Science Friday special some
time ago which basically put forth the same idea:  a PhD is not enough.
But, in combination with a degree like the JD or the writing degree, is
proving marketable.  I don't meant to dissuade any non-PhD scientists out
there from there hopes of becoming patent lawyers or science writers - but
it seems clear in my experience that many of the PhD overproduction
problems are going to spill over into fields like this and "outcompete" to
some extent.  


Sarah Boomer				email:  sarai at		
Dept. of Microbiology			work phone:  543-3376
Box 357242				work FAX:  543-3376
University of Washington		
Seattle, WA  98195	

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