postdoc salaries

What do you hate or don't understand in the lab? What do you love about the research lifestyle?

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postdoc salaries

Postby researchwoman » Mar 31 2011 9:27 am

Well it is probably an oft discussed issue or accepted fact that the salaries in basic research are not as exciting as the work may be. But well this is a place for rant and rave and it bothers me that the postdoc salary is only about 3313 USD per montha nd the tax on that is about 700USD. That leaves one with just about enough, to pay for accommodation and living expenses which may vary with the city one lives in. I happen to live in a city with higher cost of living.
I am still on the way out of academia, trying to find a reasonable oppurtunity. But a major reason for my decision is the low salaries. I know there are fellowships and funding oppurtunities but those are highly competitive and often influnced by political reasons rather than on pure merit.
It is unbelievable the monetary return on the extensive thinking, writing, all other working acivities is so abysmally low.
Well thats all. Its kind of sad for me since I enjoy doing research but tired of counting pennies and not having enough savings to build up a more financially secure and comfortable lifestyle.
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Re: postdoc salaries

Postby relaxin » Mar 31 2011 11:28 am

Well, I would say that postdoc salaries are low. But look at the bright side, this is only a 2-4 year of research training without the pressure of writing grants, teaching and committee meetings. Assistant professor salary is still not much better. If you want to build up a more financially secure and comfortable lifestyle, you may want to consider going to industries.
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Re: postdoc salaries

Postby researchwoman » Mar 31 2011 12:59 pm

The woes of academia...!
Shifting to industry is an option. Although there are supposedly many differences with the industrial environment. It is not as easy to make a transition out of academia but it can be done. Will post back my experience when I make the transition.
Yup. I understand it does not get much better as one becomes a faculty and there are additional responsibilities of running a lab under the tight grant situations etc etc etc.
I don't see myself becoming a faculty, although I grew up dreaming of becoming a scientist since age 12. It is fun, frustrating and different from the romantic stories of discovery of famous scientists I grew up reading!!;0
Hopefully I will use the resourcefulness and creativity practiced in research to better my living situation. I certainly don't agree with having to suffer for science. It sounds like joining a church...during PhD we were expected to be single, not have kids, basically follow celibacy, not take vacation to visit family, work 18-20 hours/7 days in the lab, and basically join the lab like one joins in the service of a church!
I didn't anticipate the reality of that. I no longer work like that but I can see it is common in the field.
Common phrases I have heard to the effect :'If you loved your work, you will work on weekends', 'if you loved research you won't mind the salary',' if you had passion for science you will not complain or want any experiences outside the lab',' you don't work for money, you work for the love of science'.
If we replace the word science with God, it so sounds like a religion!!;0
So now I am trying to find my way of of this church. Loved it, gave it my service but don't want to dedicate myself to it entirely!
I spoke my thoughts honestly. I hope it did not offend anyone.
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Re: postdoc salaries

Postby relaxin » Mar 31 2011 4:38 pm

No, not at all. I happen to love science and God. I can see a similarity. But God promises you eternal life, what science can give you? Nobel prize? Patent of your gene, money and fame?

Getting NIH grant is closed to impossible. It seems to me that the grant reviewers have turned into cannibalism in order to survive. I have to admit that I regret I did not go to industry when I was able to. Now, it is too late for me.
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Re: postdoc salaries

Postby researchwoman » Mar 31 2011 7:26 pm

Thank you for not taking it badly...I regretted after writing the post!;0
It may be dangerous to open up on a rant and rave section!!!;0 hehehe

Thanks for creating this free space for expression...have been on this forum since my PhD days...since about 3-4 years and am grateful for it...it has been very helpful for me...
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Re: postdoc salaries

Postby relaxin » Apr 01 2011 9:39 am

I have to add that pastors are the happiest people in all walks of life, despite their lower income. As an academia research scientist, I am content with my salary (and therefore happy with my life), even though my friends in industry got much higher pay. It is only the research funding situation that irritates me. :evil:

If think academia gives you more freedom, think again. My late Ph.D. mentor once said, scientists are no better than prostitutes; they do whatever to get the money (i.e. research funding). There are some truth in this analogy. :D
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Re: postdoc salaries

Postby JMG » May 11 2011 11:03 am

Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth to that analogy, relaxin - well said
by your late Ph.D/mentor.

It is unnerving to walk the streets of science when it gets reduced to
blindly wandering through the darkening back alley-ways of soft money...

Didn't Sting once sing: "Relaxin... you don't have to put on the red light" :wink:

In academia, though, one of the saving graces is that you can still choose to help new
students and others with what you are good at - without fear of exposing corporate secrets.

I face losing my living space and the ability to financially take care of my small family every
3 months now (being exclusively on soft money). So I chase the night often... it has become
a way of life.

Science needs broader fiscal support...
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