What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

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livesoft
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by livesoft » Thu Jun 28, 2018 5:34 pm

Uh-oh, I have a STEM PhD or more specifically a natural science PhD. I think my career was quite lucrative starting out in Academia (endowed chair) and ending up working in Industry.

I'll just say there is always room at the top. If you aren't at the top, I think you will know it already as an undergrad before you have to make a decision about grad school. That is, as long as you don't put blinders on.
InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:31 pm
interesting becomes irrelevant when it doesn't pay...

I went to a highly regarded program for natural sciences. Of the 30 or so people who entered the class, half are now doing something not remotely related in the field in which they were trained.

[...]

I would discourage most from pursuing an advanced degree in the natural sciences.
I would discourage most from pursuing such a degree as well. The top 0.01% should go for it, just as top basketball players should try for the NBA.
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stoptothink
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by stoptothink » Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:16 pm

livesoft wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 5:34 pm
Uh-oh, I have a STEM PhD or more specifically a natural science PhD. I think my career was quite lucrative starting out in Academia (endowed chair) and ending up working in Industry.

I'll just say there is always room at the top. If you aren't at the top, I think you will know it already as an undergrad before you have to make a decision about grad school. That is, as long as you don't put blinders on.
InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:31 pm
interesting becomes irrelevant when it doesn't pay...

I went to a highly regarded program for natural sciences. Of the 30 or so people who entered the class, half are now doing something not remotely related in the field in which they were trained.

[...]

I would discourage most from pursuing an advanced degree in the natural sciences.
I would discourage most from pursuing such a degree as well. The top 0.01% should go for it, just as top basketball players should try for the NBA.
Totally agree with this. The best are the best; they are going to succeed. My overall viewpoint is that one should not believe that a PhD inherently has any value outside of academia. My worst employees ever, almost universally, have been the "forever student" types who got a PhD because they finished their undergrad not sure what they wanted to do. If you recently finished undergrad and aren't sure what you want to do (which, frankly, represents most people), IMO you are far better off getting some work experience than going directly to a PhD program.

I just hired a brilliant young molecular biologist this morning. We had about three dozen PhDs apply for the job. Many of them provided such poor cover letters and writing samples that they didn't receive any sort of response and some of the others interviewed so bad that I actually felt sorry for them. We ultimately hired someone who just finished their undergrad. My boss actually made a comment to the effect that we aren't ever going to interview a PhD without work experience again. IMO, the disconnect between academia and private industry is expanding at a frighteningly fast rate.

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triceratop
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by triceratop » Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:41 pm

My overall viewpoint is that one should not believe that a PhD inherently has any value outside of academia.
Except, of course, the possible contribution to human knowledge produced as a result of pursuing that degree. For people who value improving human understanding of the world, this may be a non-pecuniary factor. Of course, such factors are routinely ignored on bogleheads.org.
"To play the stock market is to play musical chairs under the chord progression of a bid-ask spread."

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by InvisibleAerobar » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:05 pm

triceratop wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:41 pm
My overall viewpoint is that one should not believe that a PhD inherently has any value outside of academia.
Except, of course, the possible contribution to human knowledge produced as a result of pursuing that degree. For people who value improving understanding of the world, this may be a non-pecuniary factor. Of course, such factors are routinely ignored on bogleheads.org.
as for contribution to human knowledge, I often wondered if the projects I worked on had any significance or if these projects are more projects of intellectual narcissism. Of course, I understand the values of basic research, and how there is worth to knowledge per se, as opposed to commercial values. But in an environment where funding has drastically shrunk, it may be prudent to leave basic science to the truly brilliant and have everyone else focus on things with commercial values...

As an aside, I, too, never liked the overly-expedient tone expressed by some on this forum, but one has to be a bit more cynical/practical as one age, or one could end up being inpecunious in late life... My adviser would have preferred to see me become a lecturer, compensation be damned; I had other thoughts...

livesoft wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 5:34 pm
Uh-oh, I have a STEM PhD or more specifically a natural science PhD. I think my career was quite lucrative starting out in Academia (endowed chair) and ending up working in Industry.

I'll just say there is always room at the top. If you aren't at the top, I think you will know it already as an undergrad before you have to make a decision about grad school. That is, as long as you don't put blinders on.
InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:31 pm
interesting becomes irrelevant when it doesn't pay...

I went to a highly regarded program for natural sciences. Of the 30 or so people who entered the class, half are now doing something not remotely related in the field in which they were trained.

[...]

I would discourage most from pursuing an advanced degree in the natural sciences.
I would discourage most from pursuing such a degree as well. The top 0.01% should go for it, just as top basketball players should try for the NBA.
If one were that selective, then professors would run out of lab rats (I mean doctoral students). However, we have our current problem because they encourage the top 10% (or perhaps even the top 25%) to apply.

Another thing is that it is very difficult to tell if one has the aptitude to do well. No amount of undegrad research experience or industry internship can prepare one for the grueling challenges that most will face, and certainly no one talks about PhD scientists doing temp jobs or taking on non-tenured positions as some remote college. Your analogy to pro sports is perhaps apt, as there's a distinct survivor's bias: we don't usually hear about the "black sheeps" for whom things don't work out well. And even when one does land that coveted industry position, it's hardly a secure position, as one's position could end up on the chopping block.

While the top 10% may not make for sure-fire professor material, one'd like to think there'd be a better way to utilize all that human capital...

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by KlangFool » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:15 pm

theplayer11 wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 5:13 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 2:18 pm
theplayer11 wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:42 pm
self employed, haven't had a 'boss' since I was 27. No describing the satisfaction of not having someone tell me what to do.
theplayer11,

I disagreed. In a business, your customer tells you what to do.

KlangFool
not in my case..I keep my customers happy, but it's on my terms..Not talking retail.
theplayer11,

Come on. This has absolutely nothing to do with being self-employed or not. It has to do with whether the person is financially secured. If you need this customer's business, you could not say no. Ditto, for an employee that is Financially Independent. He/she do not need the job. The boss' request is just a request.

KlangFool

livesoft
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by livesoft » Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:58 pm

InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:05 pm
[...]
If one were that selective, then professors would run out of lab rats (I mean doctoral students). However, we have our current problem because they encourage the top 10% (or perhaps even the top 25%) to apply.
I wrote in this post back in 2010 that "scientists breed like flies." I had lots more in that post which I think you will enjoy.
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student
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by student » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:11 pm

livesoft wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:58 pm
InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:05 pm
[...]
If one were that selective, then professors would run out of lab rats (I mean doctoral students). However, we have our current problem because they encourage the top 10% (or perhaps even the top 25%) to apply.
I wrote in this post back in 2010 that "scientists breed like flies." I had lots more in that post which I think you will enjoy.
Very interesting thread.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by golfCaddy » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:33 pm

triceratop wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:41 pm
My overall viewpoint is that one should not believe that a PhD inherently has any value outside of academia.
Except, of course, the possible contribution to human knowledge produced as a result of pursuing that degree. For people who value improving human understanding of the world, this may be a non-pecuniary factor. Of course, such factors are routinely ignored on bogleheads.org.
I appreciate the optimism. The reality is most PhD dissertations get read by no one outside the doctoral committee. Put another way, in any given field, almost all the truly significant advances tend to come from a handful of schools.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by triceratop » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:37 pm

golfCaddy wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:33 pm
triceratop wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:41 pm
My overall viewpoint is that one should not believe that a PhD inherently has any value outside of academia.
Except, of course, the possible contribution to human knowledge produced as a result of pursuing that degree. For people who value improving human understanding of the world, this may be a non-pecuniary factor. Of course, such factors are routinely ignored on bogleheads.org.
I appreciate the optimism. The reality is most PhD dissertations get read by no one outside the doctoral committee. Put another way, in any given field, almost all the truly significant advances tend to come from a handful of schools.
Some members of bogleheads.org may be students at such schools. ;)

But yes, your point is very accurate — the overwhelming majority of theses do not represent a significant permanent step forward in the field.
"To play the stock market is to play musical chairs under the chord progression of a bid-ask spread."

livesoft
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by livesoft » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:52 pm

golfCaddy wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:33 pm
I appreciate the optimism. The reality is most PhD dissertations get read by no one outside the doctoral committee. Put another way, in any given field, almost all the truly significant advances tend to come from a handful of schools.
Yes, the PhD thesis won't be read, but it should have been converted into publications in peer-reviewed journals with outstanding "impact factors." For instance, it was helpful that my PhD thesis ended up as a cover article in Nature which was a political feat all by itself.
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by InvisibleAerobar » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:29 pm

livesoft wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:58 pm
InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:05 pm
[...]
If one were that selective, then professors would run out of lab rats (I mean doctoral students). However, we have our current problem because they encourage the top 10% (or perhaps even the top 25%) to apply.
I wrote in this post back in 2010 that "scientists breed like flies." I had lots more in that post which I think you will enjoy.
I just finished reading the thread. Wanted to read some "War and Peace" for the evening, but that might need to wait.

Thanks for linking to that thread. Wish I could have read this years ago; then again, wish I found this forum decades ago. I got to your remark in which you noted you are a "slacker". From all evidences, it would seem like you had done quite well and was not slacking. Most tenure tracked professors in the sciences easily spend 60 hrs/week working, after all. I would think your self-characterization of "slacker" is self-deprecating, but it really boggles the mind (pun intended) just how fierce and cut throat it is. In law, management consulting, and banking, 70 hours is expected, but the remuneration is also there. It takes a special type of perseverance to put up with 70 hours/week for that many years at below minimum wage.

The post that resonated with me the most is one made by "thedude" (presumably sipping a White Russian somewhere), as what he saw and experienced is quite similar to mine. Those alternative career paths for scientists; well, I technically don't fall into any of the five categories, but what I do is materially relevant to one of the categories. And the thing is, three of the categories are in effect accessible only to students at the most prestigious of institutions, with everyone else scrapping for the less well-paying ones.

What really amazes me is that even at a place such as MIT, you have so many people dropping out. I think the question I'd like to know is why haven't we heard from the Cassandras of scientific research and why do most people find out the hard way? Personally, I have started my own quixotic campaign to discourage people from getting into natural/physical science.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by golfCaddy » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:32 pm

livesoft wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:52 pm
golfCaddy wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:33 pm
I appreciate the optimism. The reality is most PhD dissertations get read by no one outside the doctoral committee. Put another way, in any given field, almost all the truly significant advances tend to come from a handful of schools.
Yes, the PhD thesis won't be read, but it should have been converted into publications in peer-reviewed journals with outstanding "impact factors." For instance, it was helpful that my PhD thesis ended up as a cover article in Nature which was a political feat all by itself.
Congrats on being the Nature cover article. The evidence suggests most academic papers don't have much of an impact.

https://dirnagl.com/2015/01/25/are-scie ... ally-read/

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by marcopolo » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:41 pm

triceratop wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:37 pm
golfCaddy wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:33 pm
triceratop wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:41 pm
My overall viewpoint is that one should not believe that a PhD inherently has any value outside of academia.
Except, of course, the possible contribution to human knowledge produced as a result of pursuing that degree. For people who value improving human understanding of the world, this may be a non-pecuniary factor. Of course, such factors are routinely ignored on bogleheads.org.
I appreciate the optimism. The reality is most PhD dissertations get read by no one outside the doctoral committee. Put another way, in any given field, almost all the truly significant advances tend to come from a handful of schools.
Some members of bogleheads.org may be students at such schools. ;)

But yes, your point is very accurate — the overwhelming majority of theses do not represent a significant permanent step forward in the field.
To me, this seems like a completely unrealistic perception of a PhD. I always viewed it as the beginning of a process to advance your field, not the culmination. I agree that extremely few Dissertations are read by others, and even fewer advance the field in meaningful ways, but i don't thing that is really the intent or the goal of the Dissertation.

For me, my PhD work taught me proper scientific methods (designing experiment, proper statistical analysis, drawing appropriate conclusion based on the data, etc.), as well providing a deeper understanding of my chosen field. But, it still left me far short of the level where i would be making significant contributions to the field immediately. But, it did lay a solid foundation which led to career in industry research that resulted in dozens of patents, most of which were also likely not read by many people, but at least a few did advance my field in somewhat significant ways.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by triceratop » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:02 pm

marcopolo wrote:To me, this seems like a completely unrealistic perception of a PhD. I always viewed it as the beginning of a process to advance your field, not the culmination. I agree that extremely few Dissertations are read by others, and even fewer advance the field in meaningful ways, but i don't thing that is really the intent or the goal of the Dissertation.

For me, my PhD work taught me proper scientific methods (designing experiment, proper statistical analysis, drawing appropriate conclusion based on the data, etc.), as well providing a deeper understanding of my chosen field. But, it still left me far short of the level where i would be making significant contributions to the field immediately. But, it did lay a solid foundation which led to career in industry research that resulted in dozens of patents, most of which were also likely not read by many people, but at least a few did advance my field in somewhat significant ways.
Speaking personally (that is what this thread is about, so please indulge the narcissism), I find it unlikely in view of the linked academic science thread that I will even want to pursue, much less be able to find, a permanent position in academic science. Therefore, I'm uninterested in most projects that don't really "move the needle" in my field, to the point where I can look back at it throughout the rest of my life and be content I contributed something due to my stint in academic science.

I have a preprint coming out next week which obsoletes 30 years of research in my subfield. Unless we're wrong, which is of course possible; after all, I do spend way too much time on bogleheads. ;)

The flip side is that my advisor thinks I am lazy because I have interests outside of furthering his research career, er, I mean, scientific understanding. Er, I mean, spending less than every waking second at the office. It turns out there is a lot else out there in the world that is interesting and that I want to learn about and explore.

The Ph.D. also teaches proper scientific methods and that is valuable. That isn't why I chose to pursue one, though.
"To play the stock market is to play musical chairs under the chord progression of a bid-ask spread."

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by Mickey7 » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:15 pm

Two totally different careers here.

While working my way through school, I began working in industrial sales. Stayed in it, even after getting my BA in Social Studies. The salary was very good for many years, then came oil busts and consolidations. That business is now a shell of what it was and I can not in good faith recommend it.

Fortunately after 20+ years I took a leap of faith and got into teaching. Taught history, English as second language and was a coach for football and basketball. Getting into the profession so late in life two different head coaches encouraged me to get my administrator's certification and I became an assistant principal. For all the pros and cons that Quaestner listed, I cannot nor will not disagree, but I have found it very agreeable. This next year, my 23rd will probably be my last. You have to have the fire for teaching, it has been a good ride.

Like so much in life, serendipity plays a role.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by marcopolo » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:17 pm

triceratop wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:02 pm
marcopolo wrote:To me, this seems like a completely unrealistic perception of a PhD. I always viewed it as the beginning of a process to advance your field, not the culmination. I agree that extremely few Dissertations are read by others, and even fewer advance the field in meaningful ways, but i don't thing that is really the intent or the goal of the Dissertation.

For me, my PhD work taught me proper scientific methods (designing experiment, proper statistical analysis, drawing appropriate conclusion based on the data, etc.), as well providing a deeper understanding of my chosen field. But, it still left me far short of the level where i would be making significant contributions to the field immediately. But, it did lay a solid foundation which led to career in industry research that resulted in dozens of patents, most of which were also likely not read by many people, but at least a few did advance my field in somewhat significant ways.
Speaking personally (that is what this thread is about, so please indulge the narcissism), I find it unlikely in view of the linked academic science thread that I will even want to pursue, much less find, a permanent position in academic science. Therefore, I'm uninterested in most projects that don't really "move the needle" in my field, to the point where I can look back at it throughout the rest of my life and be content I contributed something due to my stint in academic science.

I have a preprint coming out next week which obsoletes 30 years of research in my subfield. Unless we're wrong, which is of course possible; after all, I do spend way too much time on bogleheads. ;)
Congratulations! I hope you do indeed accomplish something that meaningful with your PhD work. It is extremely rare.
I would just point out that academic research is NOT the only way to advance your field.
I never intended to go into academia. I worked in industry for a number of years before going back to get my PhD, always with the intent to return to industry research (some companies do still perform the "R" part of R&D). I would have been extremely disappointed if I had to look back to my PhD program throughout my life to find meaningful contributions.
As accomplished as you sounds, I would encourage you set a higher bar for yourself in the future regardless of whether you choose academia or industry.

I wish you all the best success.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by 22twain » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:29 pm

Heh, all these posts about academic careers burst out after I started writing this. However, mine was different from any of the ones I've seen so far.

I was a college professor in a STEM field, at a small liberal-arts college in a small town in "flyover country."

When I was in college and grad school, I didn't have a burning ambition to do important research and become famous (even if only within my field). I simply liked studying my field and contributing to it in a small way in grad school. I hoped it would lead to some kind of work that I enjoyed and paid me enough for a decent lifestyle. Coming from a solid frugal Midwestern working-class family, the lifestyle bar wasn't very high.

As I finished my Ph.D. at a Big State U high in the second tier of research universities, I decided that I wasn't cut out for the traditional academic research path: postdocs followed by VERY MAYBE a tenure-track position at a research university, followed by constant fighting for research grants. Instead, I aimed for a teaching-oriented position at a small liberal-arts college similar to the one where I had been an undergraduate, because I had enjoyed my time there and had good relationships with my professors, and I had enjoyed being a teaching assistant while in grad school.

It turns out that those positions are about as hard to get as the research-oriented ones (100+ applications per position), but I was lucky and landed first a two-year sabbatical-replacement, then a tenure-track position where I did indeed get tenure in due course.

My fallback plan was to go into computer programming, because my research work in grad school had mainly involved programming, I was good at it and I enjoyed it. (This was in the early 1980s before personal computers and the Internet exploded and there weren't hordes of high-school students writing web and smartphone apps.) It turned out the computer experience helped me get my tenure-track job because they wanted someone who could teach a few programming courses, too.

General advantages of academia:
- Job security via tenure (but this is not absolute).
- Flexibility in managing your daily activities, so long as you meet your classes and office hours.
- Long vacations (at least if you don't teach classes in the summer) and semester breaks.
- Usually generous retirement and medical benefits; I don't have a pension, but my college did make an unmatched contribution of about 8% to our 403b plan.

Advantages of small colleges in particular:
- Small classes; largest I ever taught was about 35 in our freshman intro course; upper-level courses had no more than about ten students.
- You get to teach a wide variety of courses, which keeps you stimulated intellectually; I taught all but two of my department's courses at one time or another.
- Less administrative bureaucracy than at large universities
- Less "publish or perish" pressure than at large universities, or none at all as in my case.

Disadvantages of academia in general:
- Not much of a "job ladder" for formal advancement, unless you eventually move into administration.
- Salaries are lower than in private industry and maybe government work.

Disadvantages of small colleges:
- Heavier teaching load than at large universities, which is the price for reduced "publish or perish"; I usually had to teach three different courses per semester, plus labs.
- Even lower salaries than at large universities; at my school, they didn't even keep up with inflation after about 2000 because of increasing financial problems.
- Financial pressures can lead to reduced job security even for tenured professors, unless the endowment is large.

Small colleges located in small towns have an additional set of advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of small-town life:
- Less traffic and overall stress in everyday activities, plus you might even be able to walk to work (as I did).
- Easier access to outdoor recreational activities; I was into bicycling for many years, and liked that I could be on a quiet country road within ten minutes after leaving home.
- Lower housing costs, unless maybe the town happens to be in a popular vacation area.

Disadvantages of small-town life:
- Limited social opportunities; I got lucky and married one of the other professors (in a different field).
- Limited recreational/cultural activities; we regularly drive to one of the cities that are about an hour away, to go to concerts etc.
- Limited shopping and restaurants; we have Aldi, Walmart, dollar stores, a couple of regional supermarket chains, various fast-food chains, and some locally-owned pizza, Mexican, Chinese, etc. No Whole Foods, Costco, specialized big-box stores, or "fine dining" establishments. For those, we have to go to one of the cities.
- Limited medical resources; we're fairly healthy so we can cover most of our needs with the local doctors and hospital, but I have to drive to one of the cities a couple of times a year to see a specialist.
- Schools may not be up to the standards of people used to wealthy suburban school districts near large cities. We don't have kids, so we never had to deal with this. Some of our colleagues sent their kids to the local schools and supplemented them as best they could on their own (hey, they teach, right?); some sent them to the in-town private school; some to an out-of-town private school; and an increasing number live in one of the nearby cities and reverse-commute here so as to send their kids to a suburban public school.

On the whole, we're very satisfied with how things worked out. We mostly enjoyed our work. Our salaries were low compared to most people who post here, but the cost of living was correspondingly low. The generous employer 403b contribution helped us save a lot for retirement, relative to our expenses. So long as we stay here, Social Security will cover our normal living expenses; we're both claiming benefits at 70, and we don't need to dip deeply into our savings to bridge the gap. We even have enough that we can move to a somewhat more expensive location eventually, probably a retirement home or CCRC in one of the nearby cities, for better access to medical facilities.

However, going forwards, I expect that this career path will become less and less attractive. Many small colleges like ours are under strong financial pressures that are forcing cutbacks and "re-orienting" of academic programs, which lead to even tenured professors losing their positions. At our college, total enrollment in the traditional liberal-arts and STEM majors fell about 25% between 2009 and 2016. This was partly compensated by enrollment in new programs in medical and professional areas, but the college's long-term viability is definitely in question. When faculty leave, die or are forced out, they're usually replaced only partially, via part-time adjuncts.

Similar things have been happening at the small college where I did my undergraduate degree many years ago.
Last edited by 22twain on Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by golfCaddy » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:40 pm

marcopolo wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:41 pm
To me, this seems like a completely unrealistic perception of a PhD. I always viewed it as the beginning of a process to advance your field, not the culmination. I agree that extremely few Dissertations are read by others, and even fewer advance the field in meaningful ways, but i don't thing that is really the intent or the goal of the Dissertation.

For me, my PhD work taught me proper scientific methods (designing experiment, proper statistical analysis, drawing appropriate conclusion based on the data, etc.), as well providing a deeper understanding of my chosen field. But, it still left me far short of the level where i would be making significant contributions to the field immediately. But, it did lay a solid foundation which led to career in industry research that resulted in dozens of patents, most of which were also likely not read by many people, but at least a few did advance my field in somewhat significant ways.
Statistics should be taught in undergrad. My sense is there's an overproduction of PhDs, in that far more PhDs graduate each year than job openings exist in academia, government labs, or inside true research parts of industry, ex. Microsoft Research or Google X. When I make this point, the counter-argument I get back is usually some version of how the research done by grad students is so valuable in itself, it doesn't matter if they get research jobs after they finish their PhD.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by marcopolo » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:09 pm

golfCaddy wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:40 pm
marcopolo wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:41 pm
To me, this seems like a completely unrealistic perception of a PhD. I always viewed it as the beginning of a process to advance your field, not the culmination. I agree that extremely few Dissertations are read by others, and even fewer advance the field in meaningful ways, but i don't thing that is really the intent or the goal of the Dissertation.

For me, my PhD work taught me proper scientific methods (designing experiment, proper statistical analysis, drawing appropriate conclusion based on the data, etc.), as well providing a deeper understanding of my chosen field. But, it still left me far short of the level where i would be making significant contributions to the field immediately. But, it did lay a solid foundation which led to career in industry research that resulted in dozens of patents, most of which were also likely not read by many people, but at least a few did advance my field in somewhat significant ways.
Statistics should be taught in undergrad. My sense is there's an overproduction of PhDs, in that far more PhDs graduate each year than job openings exist in academia, government labs, or inside true research parts of industry, ex. Microsoft Research or Google X. When I make this point, the counter-argument I get back is usually some version of how the research done by grad students is so valuable in itself, it doesn't matter if they get research jobs after they finish their PhD.
Stats taught in undergrad, sure, but you wouldn't know it from the constant stream of new articles discussed here that have tortured the same historical stock performance data to discover the latest new "pattern".

More PhD than jobs that need them. Sure, but the same could be said regarding just about any degree.

That is all a far cry from saying the PhD is useless because the Dissertation does not produce some earth shattering result. That was the only point I was trying to make. If we set that as the criteria for doing a PhD, maybe we would get a dozen of them a year. I think the market probably wants more than that.

Or maybe I am just trying to justify having spent several years getting one. At least I got paid well to do it. :sharebeer
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by Radman » Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:34 pm

I know several doctors have given their perspectives but I thought I would give mine.

I'm a radiologist 2 years out of training. I work in a medium sized private practice for a large hospital system. I'm about a month away from making partner. I really like my job. For the most part, its very intellectually stimulating and you get to directly help others which is personally rewarding. I like working with my colleagues in other fields (surgeons, oncologists, etc). I work some off hours (like right now at 11 pm) but similar to emergency medicine its shift work. As a radiologist I don't "take my patients home with me" the way that some other physicians do.

I would definitely recommend medicine/radiology it to others if they keep some things in mind. As others have said, you have to be very careful about how much debt you take on. State school with some aid and you want to become a pediatrician, great. Private school with no aid and you want to become a pediatrician, :( . Medical training is a long path but its an interesting one too. There are certainly other fields that you can make good money at an earlier age. But life isn't only about the money. If you are careful about your path medicine is still a great interesting career where you can help others and be well compensated.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by ssmbogle » Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:12 am

Computer scientist. Designed software used by chip designers at Apple, Samsung, Intel, Qualcomm and all major chip houses. Got paid $200-300+.

Pros: could boast about the iPhone and Intel processors designed with our stuff. Very interesting and challenging. High barrier to entry - requires graduate degree and years of experience.

Cons: very demanding work hours. Very high expectations, especially as you move up ladder to become senior scientists. Very deadline driven - if we slip our software schedule, Apple has to slip their iPhone delivery - has significant revenue & Wall Street implications!

Left as quickly as I could (at age 51) because got tired of the cons. After a while you get tired of working long hours and trying to meet expectations and continually reach higher goals.

Not sure I'd recommend long term unless you're VERY interested in the technical work. If not, you can't survive.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by Zithron » Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:09 am

Radman wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:34 pm
I know several doctors have given their perspectives but I thought I would give mine.

I'm a radiologist 2 years out of training. I work in a medium sized private practice for a large hospital system. I'm about a month away from making partner. I really like my job. For the most part, its very intellectually stimulating and you get to directly help others which is personally rewarding. I like working with my colleagues in other fields (surgeons, oncologists, etc). I work some off hours (like right now at 11 pm) but similar to emergency medicine its shift work. As a radiologist I don't "take my patients home with me" the way that some other physicians do.

I would definitely recommend medicine/radiology it to others if they keep some things in mind. As others have said, you have to be very careful about how much debt you take on. State school with some aid and you want to become a pediatrician, great. Private school with no aid and you want to become a pediatrician, :( . Medical training is a long path but its an interesting one too. There are certainly other fields that you can make good money at an earlier age. But life isn't only about the money. If you are careful about your path medicine is still a great interesting career where you can help others and be well compensated.

HISTORY: Radiologist here too. I do mostly diagnostic work with some minor procedures. I'm just a little bit further out of training than the quoted post. I love my job, but you have to have the right temperament. For the most part I sit in front a computer dictating imaging reports.

FINDINGS:

Pros
- It's shift work, so when my shift is over I can turn off my cellphone and spend time with my family. This is not true for many physicians, and it's not something I take for granted.

- Compensation is good, probably in the top 10 for physician specialties.

- The work is intellectually stimulating, if you can handle the repetition and are adept at pattern recognition.

Cons
- Training is long and expensive. Started my first real job in my mid 30s with 6 figures of debt.

- Compensation is declining and workload is (dramatically) increasing. I get the sense this is true across all of medicine. Some of my older partners like to reminisce about the "good old days" when they did a quarter of the work and got paid 2-3 times as much.

- It really is a grind. Because of the focus on productivity, there's really no downtime while I work. I leave work mentally exhausted every day. I'm not sure I'm capable of doing this for another 25 years.

- The future of radiology is uncertain. I've been hearing about the demise of radiology since I first set foot in medical school. Back then all the talk was about outsourcing to other countries, which so far has not been the case due to medicare/medicaid regulations. Now it's all about artificial intelligence and machine learning making radiologists obsolete. I'm not as convinced that will be the case, but time will tell.


IMPRESSION:

As far as recommending medicine to others, I always say the same thing. If you think medicine is your calling in life, and you think you need the title of "Doctor" in front of your name, then go for it. If you are thinking it's an easy way to make a lot of money, then consider other options.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by dcabler » Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:49 am

Electrical Engineering. Management in the semiconductor industry in IC design. Generically, I would recommend Electrical Engineering, but I probably wouldn't target it for my industry.

Pros: I've been well compensated, made good money on stock options and RSU's. Got to do some really interesting work at the forefront of technology, gaining around 30 patents over a 34 year career and have been fortunate to travel to some interesting places. Even got a couple of year expat assignment in (former) East Germany, which was really cool.

Cons: Executive management in the last several companies I've worked for salivate over moving as much as possible to "Low Cost Geographies", meaning India, China and Eastern Europe. That trend will continue - such is the case for what is now a mature industry. Most new openings, whether to expand or replace somebody who left, have to be opened overseas... Business is highly cyclical and there are frequent layoffs in the industry. Managed to dodge that bullet myself until my mid 40's but since then had it happened 3 more times - always landed somewhere reasonably quickly, though, without having to relocate. At 57, I'm pretty sure I'm at my last gig.
Last edited by dcabler on Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by whodidntante » Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:59 am

Poker during the poker boom was something like owning a money tree if your head was screwed on tight.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:26 am

triceratop wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:41 pm
My overall viewpoint is that one should not believe that a PhD inherently has any value outside of academia.
Except, of course, the possible contribution to human knowledge produced as a result of pursuing that degree. For people who value improving human understanding of the world, this may be a non-pecuniary factor. Of course, such factors are routinely ignored on bogleheads.org.
Sure, but this thread is talking about careers isn't it?

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by triceratop » Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:41 am

stoptothink wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:26 am
triceratop wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:41 pm
My overall viewpoint is that one should not believe that a PhD inherently has any value outside of academia.
Except, of course, the possible contribution to human knowledge produced as a result of pursuing that degree. For people who value improving human understanding of the world, this may be a non-pecuniary factor. Of course, such factors are routinely ignored on bogleheads.org.
Sure, but this thread is talking about careers isn't it?
Isn't it myopic to evaluate a career only in the context of financial remuneration? I certainly wouldn't view it so narrowly, anyway.

Consider Taylor who linked his career positions upthread-- I'm sure he was paid least, or close to it except for the last item, for his role as a WW2 paratrooper. Which had the most positive impact on the world?
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:51 am

triceratop wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:41 am
Isn't it myopic to evaluate a career only in the context of financial remuneration? I certainly wouldn't view it so narrowly, anyway.

Consider Taylor who linked his career positions upthread-- I'm sure he was paid least for his role as a WW2 paratrooper. Which had the most positive impact on the world?
One of my kids got a PhD and another decided against it; for two of my kids it wasn't considered.

The older one, with a PhD, makes little money in the Peace Corps, working with kids at risk of making a mess of their lives. The rewards are intermittent, but all in all she is happy with her choices. Whether or not a PhD was necessary is open to debate.

The younger one, who decided against pursuing a PhD for the time being, will be working at a high level of compensation, and I believe that he will follow through on his goal of achieving "effective altruism."

As to Taylor, I'd have to respectfully disagree. Taking nothing away from his bravery during WW2, or his contribution, his work writing and pushing the Boglehead view had the largest positive impact on the world.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by federal dinosaur » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:30 am

My career was aviation related, but I was a fed gov't employee. I worked w/many contractors who really knew their stuff and most of them were former FAA employees. I think I managed to hit the "sweet spot" in my chosen career.

I am uncertain that the government will retain the prominent position that it enjoys today in aviation. I believe this mostly because of the dreadfully glacial pace that technological advances are integrated into the system. It is common to have a solid increase in air travel yearly. I was lucky and I had a good run.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:42 am

triceratop wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:41 am
stoptothink wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:26 am
triceratop wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:41 pm
My overall viewpoint is that one should not believe that a PhD inherently has any value outside of academia.
Except, of course, the possible contribution to human knowledge produced as a result of pursuing that degree. For people who value improving human understanding of the world, this may be a non-pecuniary factor. Of course, such factors are routinely ignored on bogleheads.org.
Sure, but this thread is talking about careers isn't it?
Isn't it myopic to evaluate a career only in the context of financial remuneration? I certainly wouldn't view it so narrowly, anyway.

Consider Taylor who linked his career positions upthread-- I'm sure he was paid least, or close to it except for the last item, for his role as a WW2 paratrooper. Which had the most positive impact on the world?
Absolutely, I'm not speaking solely to compensation though. Based upon my own PhD experience and the dozens and dozens and dozens of PhDs I interview on an annual basis, I think you are probably an outlier. FWIW, I have been involved in 8 peer-reviewed publications in the last 12 months alone (2 as PI, 6 as a co-author) and primary research is a small part of my private industry job. I'm not delusional enough to say that I am making any sort of huge impact on knowledge, even in an area of science where there are currently less than 250 published human clinical trials. I guess that is part of our disconnect; I can speak to my uncle, who is an academic linguist who has an expertise in an area which even he acknowledges has almost zero "real-world" relevance (some form of evaluating linguistic testing procedures), hardly teaches, and has published less in his 30yr career than I did last year alone and he thinks he is changing the world. Me, I'm just doing my job, in what is the best work environment I have ever been involved in; and as someone who has a PhD and used to teach, I am WAY happier in every imaginable way being out of academia. We all have opinions; the fact that yours is different than mine is what makes this world a great place :beer .

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by livesoft » Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:19 am

22twain wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:29 pm
I was a college professor in a STEM field, at a small liberal-arts college in a small town in "flyover country."
You may be one of my in-laws. :)

I think you forgot to tell us that you often did not have to work during the summers.
[Ooops, I see from your reply below that I missed that. Sorry!]
Last edited by livesoft on Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by 22twain » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:09 am

livesoft wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:19 am
I think you forgot to tell us that you often did not have to work during the summers.
I did mention the long vacations, but it was probably easy to miss in all that verbiage. :oops:

I actually taught during half of the summer semester for a long time. Then I happily gave that course to a new colleague who needed the money more than I did. I decided I'd rather have the extra time than the money.
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by student » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:34 am

22twain wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:09 am
livesoft wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:19 am
I think you forgot to tell us that you often did not have to work during the summers.
I did mention the long vacations, but it was probably easy to miss in all that verbiage. :oops:

I actually taught during half of the summer semester for a long time. Then I happily gave that course to a new colleague who needed the money more than I did. I decided I'd rather have the extra time than the money.
I am also at a point that I am considering not teaching in the summer. On the other hand, it is good to have extra income and I really do like teaching.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by Cruise » Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:29 pm

Interesting thread, and interesting discussion about the societal merits of a Ph.D.

After getting my Ph.D. in a science field, I built my own niche consultancy business. Would I do it again? No regrets, although my true love was academia.

As an undergrad, I developed an interest in research and found a great mentor. I ended up being a first-author for a publication in a renown journal. This got me into a first-tier grad school where my new mentor turned me loose to continue my research. By the time I got my Ph.D., I had the publication history to position myself for an assistant professorship at an R-1 university. However, love got in the way, and I instead chose to remain near my love.

I ended up getting a job working for a governmental agency and found my work very interesting (for a while). I learned some very valuable lessons there, including that I was too impatient and entrepreneurial for civil service work. I also discovered that my skill set and experiences could be valuable to a wide variety of governmental and commercial entities. I obtained my MBA, and left to pursue my life as an independent consultant.

Creating my own business was a terrifying journey. After all, I was a scientist at heart, not a business person. Success was not instantaneous, and I had to learn how to effectively market my services and what were the true market needs.

My career enabled me to work with every level of organizations from janitors to CEOs and Boards of Directors. Each engagement was different, but all involved using my scientific training to help the organization solve a problem that was perceived to be important.

Throughout my career, I maintained my interest in research, and published several articles in professional journals. Eventually, I decided to retire (FI), and was able to sell my business to another professional who wanted to continue my life's work. Selling the business was icing on the cake. :)

Pros of working as an independent consultant:

--You own your successes. Every time the phone rings and your services are sought, it is a validation.

--You don't work for only one boss. Yes, you work for many different bosses (clientele), but if one fires you, or you fire them, there are still many more sources of income.

--No one can restrain your energy and success.

--Your profit potential is unlimited, and you decide when to invest in yourself vs your business.

Cons of working as an independent consultant:

Adjusting to the vagaries of the marketplace.

Learning to cope with the inevitable cycles of too much work and then too little work, and then too much work once again.

Never being able to take a vacation without having a cell phone charged up and responding to client needs.

Actionable Issues for Ph.D.s:

You have a skill set that allowed you to obtain a Ph.D. There is a marketplace for those skills that extend far beyond academia. Understand your specific talents and how to monetize them, and you will have a long career that will be interesting and lucrative. Good luck.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by TheAccountant » Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:44 pm

Senior Accountant for a small tech firm.

I've always enjoyed working with numbers, and money in particular. I like knowing exactly how much things cost, and using tech to figure out this information. You can do an awful lot with a good set of data on your hands.

I'd recommend it if you're good at statistics and problem solving. I feel like a lot of people go into Accounting in hopes of becoming a CPA and making $ 100,000 a year out of college. In reality Accountants don't really make an awful lot of money - I believe the average is something like $ 76,000/yr.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by hmw » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:11 pm

Zithron wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:09 am


Pros
- It's shift work, so when my shift is over I can turn off my cellphone and spend time with my family. This is not true for many physicians, and it's not something I take for granted.

- Compensation is good, probably in the top 10 for physician specialties.

- The work is intellectually stimulating, if you can handle the repetition and are adept at pattern recognition.

Cons
- Training is long and expensive. Started my first real job in my mid 30s with 6 figures of debt.

- Compensation is declining and workload is (dramatically) increasing. I get the sense this is true across all of medicine. Some of my older partners like to reminisce about the "good old days" when they did a quarter of the work and got paid 2-3 times as much.

- It really is a grind. Because of the focus on productivity, there's really no downtime while I work. I leave work mentally exhausted every day. I'm not sure I'm capable of doing this for another 25 years.

- The future of radiology is uncertain. I've been hearing about the demise of radiology since I first set foot in medical school. Back then all the talk was about outsourcing to other countries, which so far has not been the case due to medicare/medicaid regulations. Now it's all about artificial intelligence and machine learning making radiologists obsolete. I'm not as convinced that will be the case, but time will tell.


IMPRESSION:

As far as recommending medicine to others, I always say the same thing. If you think medicine is your calling in life, and you think you need the title of "Doctor" in front of your name, then go for it. If you are thinking it's an easy way to make a lot of money, then consider other options.

I am a MD but not a radiologist. We were talking about the future of medicine at the doc’s lounge the other day. We all felt that AI will probably have a huge negative impact on radiology. I personally wouldn’t recommend radiology to any medical student.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/6103 ... -shortage/

https://www.radiologybusiness.com/topic ... want-think

AI does not have to be better than the best trained subspecialty radiologist. It just have to better than the general radiologist who works at nighthawk. I see plenty of bad reads from some of the nighthawk radiologists at my hospital.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by Lynette » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:30 pm

22twain wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:29 pm
I was a college professor in a STEM field, at a small liberal-arts college in a small town in "flyover country."
Thank you for taking the time to make a very interesting contribution to this thread.
Last edited by Lynette on Sat Jun 30, 2018 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

am
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by am » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:10 pm

hmw wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:11 pm
Zithron wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:09 am


Pros
- It's shift work, so when my shift is over I can turn off my cellphone and spend time with my family. This is not true for many physicians, and it's not something I take for granted.

- Compensation is good, probably in the top 10 for physician specialties.

- The work is intellectually stimulating, if you can handle the repetition and are adept at pattern recognition.

Cons
- Training is long and expensive. Started my first real job in my mid 30s with 6 figures of debt.

- Compensation is declining and workload is (dramatically) increasing. I get the sense this is true across all of medicine. Some of my older partners like to reminisce about the "good old days" when they did a quarter of the work and got paid 2-3 times as much.

- It really is a grind. Because of the focus on productivity, there's really no downtime while I work. I leave work mentally exhausted every day. I'm not sure I'm capable of doing this for another 25 years.

- The future of radiology is uncertain. I've been hearing about the demise of radiology since I first set foot in medical school. Back then all the talk was about outsourcing to other countries, which so far has not been the case due to medicare/medicaid regulations. Now it's all about artificial intelligence and machine learning making radiologists obsolete. I'm not as convinced that will be the case, but time will tell.


IMPRESSION:

As far as recommending medicine to others, I always say the same thing. If you think medicine is your calling in life, and you think you need the title of "Doctor" in front of your name, then go for it. If you are thinking it's an easy way to make a lot of money, then consider other options.

I am a MD but not a radiologist. We were talking about the future of medicine at the doc’s lounge the other day. We all felt that AI will probably have a huge negative impact on radiology. I personally wouldn’t recommend radiology to any medical student.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/6103 ... -shortage/

https://www.radiologybusiness.com/topic ... want-think

AI does not have to be better than the best trained subspecialty radiologist. It just have to better than the general radiologist who works at nighthawk. I see plenty of bad reads from some of the nighthawk radiologists at my hospital.
AI will be a tool used by radiologists to help them be more efficient. There is no chance that a computer will provide independent interpretations without radiologist oversight in our lifetime.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by edudumb » Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:12 pm

triceratop wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:05 pm
The work environment is a land of contrasts -- you have to be mentally tough to accept your own stupidity and lack of understanding, but also confident enough to know when you have a good idea which for some reason others have not had. The most challenging part of graduate school is believing you belong there, have worthwhile ideas, and are not an imposter (see "Imposter syndrome"). So, mentally it is quite taxing but gives you many avenues in which to grow as a person and into who you want to be.
Very well said, wish I had that vision when I was doing my PhD :beer

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by growingup » Sat Jun 30, 2018 2:03 am

am wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:10 pm

AI will be a tool used by radiologists to help them be more efficient. There is no chance that a computer will provide independent interpretations without radiologist oversight in our lifetime.
Radiologist oversight will certainly be needed, but the number of radiologists needed will decrease... and it will become more competitive to get a job for less experienced grads. (?)

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by NRoy » Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:42 am

Emergency Medicine (ER) Physician


Similar to some of the other doctors here - I would do it 100 times over. I tell my significant other that I will love our children no matter what kind of doctors they become.


I've been out of medical school now for about 10 years, and genuinely appreciate every single day of work. I go in, do something I know how to do exceptionally well, and walk out knowing that I did something good for my patients. I never have to meet budgets, hit sales numbers, or innovate (unless I want to) - and dont have to worry about being fired.

I choose my specialty based on what I enjoyed doing (income played a small role compared to the work itself). Choosing a specialty based strictly on preference is a luxury that most doctors take for granted.

I work 150 hours a month and roughly make in the mid 500's a year, with all the benefits of a regular employed physician. Granted those 150 hours are frequently evenings, nights and weekends, but you get used to it.

For the time/debt ratio - I worked hard during undergrad and med school - 8 years. Residency was hard work too - 4 more years. So that's 12 years gone. That being said, I was learning something interesting while taking care of patients, and developing my craft - it was fun. I came out with maybe 100k in debt (I quite a bit of scholarship money), refinanced and paid it off within my first year or two.

I find that a lot of the discontentment amongst physicians comes from not knowing how hard the rest of the world works for the same amount of money. Then, not being frugal their first few years out of residency. Making 300-500k a year, you can pay down a tremendous amount of debt if you truly live frugally for the first few years. Ideally, avoid the debt in the first place.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:04 am

Software development. I would probably not recommend it for two reasons: agism and (seemingly) easy outsourcing/insourcing (bringing in foreign workers that will work for much less). I do contract work and can tell you that 20 years ago I made the same or more money ,obviously with less experience, and that is not adjusting for inflation. Part of that may be due to the tech boom and salaries being inflated at the time. Things can vary greatly on what you specialize in and where you work. If you are working at Google or Facebook or some startup that becomes successful, that is a whole different thing. But then again, you probably could have been a janitor or secretary at Google/Facebook/Microsoft at the beginning and be rich.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by am » Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:19 am

growingup wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 2:03 am
am wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:10 pm

AI will be a tool used by radiologists to help them be more efficient. There is no chance that a computer will provide independent interpretations without radiologist oversight in our lifetime.
Radiologist oversight will certainly be needed, but the number of radiologists needed will decrease... and it will become more competitive to get a job for less experienced grads. (?)
There is AI in mammo right now. It is poor quality and creates more work. It has not reduced the staffing needed. I have not seen anything better for any other radiology study. I highly doubt that it will be more than a tool to help detect lung nodules and other such abnormalities that can escape detection. It will also create more work. Whatever AI does, will have to be checked by a rad. which will be time consuming. No rad. will blindly follow. As far as independent interpretations, not in our lifetimes or ever in this country.

KlangFool
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by KlangFool » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:14 am

am wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:19 am
growingup wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 2:03 am
am wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:10 pm

AI will be a tool used by radiologists to help them be more efficient. There is no chance that a computer will provide independent interpretations without radiologist oversight in our lifetime.
Radiologist oversight will certainly be needed, but the number of radiologists needed will decrease... and it will become more competitive to get a job for less experienced grads. (?)
There is AI in mammo right now. It is poor quality and creates more work. It has not reduced the staffing needed. I have not seen anything better for any other radiology study. I highly doubt that it will be more than a tool to help detect lung nodules and other such abnormalities that can escape detection. It will also create more work. Whatever AI does, will have to be checked by a rad. which will be time consuming. No rad. will blindly follow. As far as independent interpretations, not in our lifetimes or ever in this country.
am,

I disagreed that it is a technology problem. We may have the technology to fix this problem. It is a business problem. There is no business case to solve this problem. As long as insurance can charge a higher premium to recover the cost and the hospital can make money out of radiologists, there is no business case to solve this problem. But, this could change in a blink of an eye as soon as there is less money to pay for the same amount of work.

In the book of" Only the Paranoid Survive " by Andrew S. Grove. He claimed that no one will buy a PC for less than 2K. Then, a full-featured $500 PC show up after the book was published. The standard PC price was dropped from $2,000 to $500.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by hmw » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:53 am

am wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:19 am
growingup wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 2:03 am
am wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:10 pm

AI will be a tool used by radiologists to help them be more efficient. There is no chance that a computer will provide independent interpretations without radiologist oversight in our lifetime.
Radiologist oversight will certainly be needed, but the number of radiologists needed will decrease... and it will become more competitive to get a job for less experienced grads. (?)
There is AI in mammo right now. It is poor quality and creates more work. It has not reduced the staffing needed. I have not seen anything better for any other radiology study. I highly doubt that it will be more than a tool to help detect lung nodules and other such abnormalities that can escape detection. It will also create more work. Whatever AI does, will have to be checked by a rad. which will be time consuming. No rad. will blindly follow. As far as independent interpretations, not in our lifetimes or ever in this country.
I respectfully disagree.

From a technology point of view, I don't see how AI will not be able to read better on a CXR, plain X-rays for bone fractures, cross imaging such as CT chest/abdomen, CT angiogram. AI will not get tired, will not miss things because of overwork, and will not need to take vacations.

Initially there may be regulatory hurdles that prevents AI from reading independently. ie. needs to be checked by a human radiologist. This still will decrease demand for radiologists. Look at the field of anesthesia. I see quite a few CRNA working in the OR at my hospital. They are replacing some MD jobs. I don't think the availabilty of the CRNA has increased the surgical volume, or the overall pie for anesthesia. The drive to decrease the heathcare cost will be relentless in this country as the cost increases. There will be powerful lobbies by the payors of the health care system and big tech to get rid of the regulatory hurdles in the future. I will not count on the regulatory hurdles to be there forever. We see that more and more mid-levels are allowed independent practices in many states. (I am not arguing for or against the level of quality that is provided by independent mid-levels) .

If I am a medical student, I will not bet on that there will be same number of jobs or level of income for radiologists in his/her lifetime.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:56 am

The discussion is starting to get derailed on the accuracy of AI (artificial intelligience) as a radiology diagnostic tool. Please stay focused on career recommendations.
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acegolfer
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by acegolfer » Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:38 pm

TexasCPA wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:23 pm
As someone who recently decided on a career change and went back to school to pursue a Masters of Accouting and the CPA license I am really enjoying this thread
A friend of mine is an accounting professor. He sent his son to an accounting degree program. Obviously, he recommended it.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by ClaycordJCA » Sat Jun 30, 2018 6:31 pm

Gill wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:39 pm
Amanda999 wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:56 pm
Lawyer. No.
+1
+2. Been an attorney for 30+ years. The practice has changed. Clients are much more demanding than they were when I started practicing. They want immediate attention, answers to complex problems in hours, not days. And there are multiple clients with the same demands. Email is on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Too much stress.

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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by golfCaddy » Sat Jun 30, 2018 8:35 pm

That is all a far cry from saying the PhD is useless because the Dissertation does not produce some earth shattering result. That was the only point I was trying to make. If we set that as the criteria for doing a PhD, maybe we would get a dozen of them a year. I think the market probably wants more than that.
We need more than 12, but a lot fewer than the 55000 research PhDs granted each year. If you can't get admitted to a top 20 school for your field, it's not worth doing.

DoctorPhysics
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Re: What is/ was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by DoctorPhysics » Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:02 pm

PhD, applied physics, top 3 schools. Employed in industry. Was it worth it? Yes, for me.

Many bumps along the way. Some unique to my situation.

The PhD teaches you how to think and solve problems. Not for everyone. You have to have the fire for this. Otherwise, be more pragmatic.. ;)

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Horton
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Re: What is/was your career and would you recommend it now?

Post by Horton » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:59 pm

jimmo wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 7:51 pm
Stinky wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 7:23 am
Actuary. It has been rated in the "top 10" by many lists over the years, and the ranking is correct. Once a person finishes their actuarial examinations (usually happens before age 30), unemployment is basically zero, salaries are very good, and the stress level is relatively low.

I would highly recommend the profession for someone who meets the basic criteria - a strong aptitude for math (practical math, not PhD-type math), and a desire to work in business.
Actuary here as well. I'd recommend but probably less enthusiastically at this point. IF you have a strong aptitude for math and statistics, it is a solid option.

Pro - You don't have to go 6 figures in debt to make a nice income. Con - You have to go through a grueling exam credentialing process while you're working for the first 5-10 years of your career. Actuarial exams are a bear unless you're one of those special types.

Pro - Job security / unemployment both very favorable right now. Con - Long-term there is pressure from data scientists types and automation. Having actuarial credentials pay well now, but I think it will become watered down over time.

Pro - Once you're through with the exams, there's generally pretty good work/life balance and good flexibility. Con - You will spend most of your time staring at a screen or in a conference room.

I'm not sure I'd choose it again myself if starting over. I'm pretty well entrenched now so will probably stick around until I'm FI anyhow. For my second act, I may try my hand at one of the skilled trades, or at least something away from a computer and office job type environment. Of course by then my body may not be so agreeable to it.
Actuary here as well. I would recommend the profession to anyone who has an analytical bent and is good at taking exams. I will say though that it seems to be harder to get entry level positions these days unless you are graduating with an actuarial science degree, a few exams, and internships.

In undergrad I was actually torn between becoming an actuary or pursuing a PhD in economics or statistics. In the end, I decided to become an actuary because I had enough confidence in my study skills that I viewed the exam credentialing process as a way for me to “control my own destiny” when it came to promotions and pay increases. Perhaps this is hindsight bias, but one of my key goals was to provide my wife the opportunity to stay at home with our future children so the pay and promotional opportunities were really important.

Overall, I have been very happy with my career. I was in consulting for a number of years but now work on the sponsor side designing and managing retirement and healthcare benefit programs. I view my role as making incremental changes in the lives of a lot of people.

After reading everything said in this thread on academia, I’m glad I pursued the actuarial route.

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