A Blog about Career Changes, Madness, and My Awful Brain

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Scientists: Can I make as much as the Janitor?

Every time I do a job search, I become more and more convinced that science work really was a bad career choice. Okay, I've gone on about this before, I know, but seriously folks, this is getting ridiculous.

My brother sent me a link not too long ago to a job that is asking for someone with some science knowledge, but which is not a job in science. It's more of a policy position, where the "scientist" on staff will be consulting on matters that require science know how. It's actually a great position, requires only a bachelor's degree, and seems to be an entry level job in that summer students are encouraged to apply. It also pays seven thousand more per year than my last job, which required a masters degree and a lot more experience. Keep in mind that I had to haggle in order to get a higher salary, and they wanted to pay me about 4000 less than least amount that I would settle for.

Let me put it in perspective. I used to work near a University, but not for the University itself. My wage was comparable (and maybe even higher in some cases) to what a lab technician would make at the University. The last time I checked (in preparation for this blog), a painter working for the university makes $500 to $1500 more a month than I was making. The groundsworkers were making almost exactly the same, and required only a Grade 12 education and about 3 years of experience. Electricians, plumbers, and other tradespeople made close to double what I did.

I'm not knocking tradespeople or saying they should get paid less. Tradespeople deserve every penny that they get. They are worth the money they are paid. I'm simply saying that doing a biology degree is a terrible choice, if you want to get paid a decent wage and want to have a normal, good life. Even high paying science jobs (professors, industry scientists) are not worth it when you consider the huge time investments involved. Maybe if you have the passion, it may be worth it, but even the most passionate of people will get tired of eating Ramen noodles and living in dank apartments eventually. I wouldn't be suprised that most people, even with passion, end up doing what I'm doing....going into a career that maybe uses a bit of their science knowledge, but in a completely different field. Whether it's teaching, policy, or administration....eventually, you gotta get out of the lab if you want any type of stability.

That's why I'm hoping that I get the job I applied for. In truth, the decent pay I would get is just a perk. What I really want to do is develop experience and skills that are valuable (in an economic and social sense) to society. Because the skills I have obviously aren't. No matter how much politicians or industry tell us that society needs more scientists, don't listen to them. They are full of shit...if they cared, they would be paying us better, and funding us better. What they are doing is performing a calling song to patsies. Get out. Get out while you still can. Maybe if the number of biologists radically declines, they will realize how important research is. Ha! Don't hold your breath.

I know I'm done with it. Hey, painting sounds fun.

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