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047: How many postdocs are there? The answer may surprise you!

It sounds like a simple question: how many postdocs are there in the United States?

Maybe you want to know because you ARE a postdoc and you’re thinking about what kind of competition you’ll face for a faculty position.

Maybe you’re a program manager at the NIH, and you’d like to direct extra funding toward STEM training and postdoctoral positions.

Or maybe you’re a university administrator, and you’re wondering how the new labor laws will affect salaries this year.

Well, too bad. No one actually knows how many postdocs there are.


045: Finally, some good news for postdoc salary!

Postdocs are some of the most productive scientists on the planet, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at a pay stub.  For years now, postdoc salaries have remained stagnant in the low $40,000s, causing many young scientists to find other careers in other industries.

But a recently announced bill from the Department of Labor could boost postdoc salary with the stroke of a pen.  Dubbed “FLSA” (Fair Labor Standards Act), employees earning less than the $47,476 per year would have to be paid overtime or have their hours cut back to 40 per week.

Last we checked, most postdocs fit that description!


028: Making Time for Kids When Everyone Else Stays Late

If you have kids, you’ve experienced “the time shift.”

Where you used to have hobbies, you now have a drive to soccer practice.  Where you used to have dinner out, you now have dinner, dishes, bath-time, stories, and bedtime, IN.

And where you used to stay late in the lab to finish an experiment, you now rush out at 5 to avoid the late fee at daycare.


020: Do I really need to do a postdoc?

As you near the end of your graduate school training, you will feel defeated, worn out, and ready to take a nice, peaceful job at that bookstore down the street.  But if your career goals include leaving the bookstore and returning to lab, you’re probably considering postdoctoral training.  Question is: do you really need to do a postdoc?

Later that day: “I haven’t smelled β-mercaptoethanol in ages. This is great!”

To Do, or Not To Do

Fifty years ago, you could finish your PhD and be offered a faculty position, no questions asked.  Twenty years ago, you’d get that same faculty position after doing a lengthy postdoc.  But the times have changed, and not everyone wants to jump on the tenure track.  That means there are some of us who don’t need a postdoc and shouldn’t do one.

There are a few clear cases where a postdoc is an unstated requirement, but there are also times where grad students take a postdoc because they haven’t figured out what they want to do with their degrees.  That means  you can actually avoid the entire process.

We’ll talk about the different types of jobs you can achieve as a scientist in academics and industry, and whether the postdoc will help you get there.  The key is deciding early what you want to do and getting a job BEFORE you graduate.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Lager

We finally break down and sample a Pumpkin Ale from Schlafly Beer in St. Louis, MO.  It’s tastily-spiced, but not over the top like some of these brews that made the bottom of the Paste Magazine pumpkin beer taste-test.  You’ll see flavor phrases like “road tar,” “licorice,” and “Ipecac.”  Yuk!