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High Paying Jobs in Math and Science?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the they-gotta-be-somewhere dept.

Businesses 383

An anonymous reader asks: "Where are the high paying jobs for those who are good in math and science? I've heard about math and science shortages for almost two decades now, and I was wondering what high salary/high demand jobs have resulted from these shortages. Most science majors I know actually make less than teachers (in Texas teachers make $38-40K to start for nine months of work). In terms of money, what career would you pursue coming out of college right now with a math or science degree?"

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For math... (5, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239113)

... Actuary (insurance, etc)

For math... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19241755)

Actually, for math: everywhere you use numbers.

It turns out we use numbers an awful lot in commerce.

The one you like (3, Informative)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239119)

In terms of money, what career would you pursue coming out of college right now with a math or science degree?

The one you're most interested in. Seriously, if all you care about is money, go be an investment banker or a money whore somewhere else. Our field is littered with people like you who get a job hoping for big bucks but end up circling the drain for a few years while producing horrible work.

However, software engineers at the various consultancies pay fairly well. Perhaps the R&D arm of a pharmaceutical company as well.

Re:The one you like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239315)

Darn straight.

Everyone is so hung up on the "extra" benefits of a university education (exposure to different fields, proof that you'll do pointless things if asked) that we've lost sight of the major purpose: preparing yourself for a career in something you like. If you're on the point of graduating and you don't have any idea what you should go do, then you've failed in your education.

I think we need to stress this point more to undergrads. Once you've made it past your second year, forget about all this literature and polisci crap and go learn something cool.

Re:The one you like (4, Informative)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239553)

Seriously, if all you care about is money, go be an investment banker or a money whore somewhere else.

It's nice to do what you love, but you have to put food on the table somehow. I know that many fields are tainted with green fever; people looking to make a buck rather than have any real passion for the task at hand. The computer science/fly-by-night cert mill debacle, for example.

It's not a bad thing to ask which jobs will help you pay your student loans and give you a decent quality of life versus ones that will doom you to debt and a monastic lifestyle for years to come.

Re:The one you like (0)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239741)

$30K is more than enough to put food on the table in most areas. If you don't think so, you are either living in a very expensive area, or need to get your priorities in order. When I graduated (3 years ago) I made $30K at my first job. I was glad to be making so much money. I wasn't rich, but I wasn't scrounging for money all the time either. And I had student loans to pay off too. If I didn't have those, I would have been rolling in the cash.

Re:The one you like (3, Insightful)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240377)

However, some people like to live comfortably, and other people have families to support. Really, why should you begrudge some guy who just wants to see what his labor is worth?

And besides, what some people consider boring, can turn out to be something you love. I love designing/creating databases, it seems boring as heck to some people, but to me its actually fun. So let the guy find something he might get paid well for AND enjoy doing.

Re:The one you like (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19240499)

$30K is more than enough to put food on the table in most areas.

$30K a year is not bad for a single guy in his twenties. The problem is that many scientists are still making $30-$40K a year (e.g. as post-docs) in their 30's and 40's. It's hard to support a family on $30K a year - particularly if you're also hoping to save up enough to buy a house, pay for your kid's college and have enough left over for your own retirement.

In fact, let's do the math. Suppose you want to retire at age 65 and die at age 85 while living on a (rather meager) income of $30K a year. That's 20 years at $30K a year or $600K. Let's say you have two kids who go to a good, but not great, college (e.g. pray your kids aren't smart enough to get accepted to Harvard or MIT). That'll run you another $50K each for a total of $100K. Now, let's say you live in an average area. A decent house in a decent neighborhood will run you $300K. That's a million dollars total that you've got to earn in addition to putting food on the table (and paying medical bills and car bills and clothes, etc).

Let's say you get your undergrad degree by age 22 and you get your PhD by age 28 and you've got your student loans paid off by age 30. You now have 35 years to earn a million dollars in addition to "putting food on the table" for your family. That's $30K a year you need to be earning in addition to your day to day living expenses. Well, it's kind of hard to do that when your salary throughout your 30's and 40's is only $30K a year.

Sure, science pays better than being a checkout clerk at Walmart but it's pretty hard to justify all that extra effort and education when medical school or law school would have you earning ten times as much ($300k a year versus $30K a year).

Re:The one you like (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240913)

You have pretty high standards for what constitutes living comfortably. Many people are never able to buy a house, nor are they able to pay for their children's education. My parents didn't pay for my education, and I was able to get one. It's great to be able to finance your child's education, but that is a luxury. Like I said, 30 K is quite enough money, especially as a starting salary. If you don't think so, you need to re-evaluate your priorities. Also, your calculations are off, because you aren't considering that there's a second person making money in the family. While some people still have the wife stay home, the vast majority of families have both parents working. So, your 600K becomes 1.2 Million. Just as a reference point, I'm currently making $45,000 a year, and my wife isn't working, because she stays home and looks after the kids. I have no problem paying the bills, and actually have quite a bit of money left over at the end of each month. And we are still paying off our student loans (Total $300 a month). In 3 years, I'll have enough saved up for a down payment and I'll be able to buy a house.

Re:The one you like (1)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240845)

$30K is more than enough to put food on the table in most areas.

If you don't mind literally throwing most of your money away every paycheck (renting vs. owning) don't have a wife and/or kid, and don't have any other dependents/obligations, then sure.

Not everyone is in that circumstance.

If I didn't have those, I would have been rolling in the cash.

You're not exactly into financial planning for your future, are you? Planning on living on social security when you retire, or what? If you look at life like a high schooler, $30K is probably fine. Rent, buy a few video games, eat out, etc. You're spending what you earn. If you're actually interested in having financial security and independence at any point you're going to need to start investing in your future.

Re:The one you like (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239771)

It's not a bad thing to ask which jobs will help you pay your student loans and give you a decent quality of life versus ones that will doom you to debt and a monastic lifestyle for years to come.

It's virtually guaranteed [strappedthebook.com] that the first type of jobs do not exist, and the second type are the only jobs open to people under the age of 37. Even if you earn $160,000/year, to earn that much you're going to have to live in a place that costs you $100,000/year for a studio apartment.

Re:The one you like (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240259)

That's still 60K a year for "incidentals".....and you can eat fairly well for that much.

But really, I think you are wrong. You can easily get a starting job in Austin for between $50 to 60K in the computer fields. Housing will run you about $12K a year renting a 1-bedroom (and that's a decent neighborhood, not the slums). That's plenty left over for food, car, gas, etc.

Layne

Re:The one you like (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240751)

But really, I think you are wrong. You can easily get a starting job in Austin for between $50 to 60K in the computer fields. Housing will run you about $12K a year renting a 1-bedroom (and that's a decent neighborhood, not the slums). That's plenty left over for food, car, gas, etc.

And if that's all that you were spending, that would be fine. But there's also the usury on those student loans (most people don't know this- but the banks can change the interest rate *after* the contract has been signed, unless it's explicitly in the contract not to- after a couple of deferments those student loans could easily exceed 20% APR), and to service the debt on the student loans, you need consumer debt when the car breaks down, etc. Also, $50 to 60K isn't a good enough salary to pay off the student debt anymore- you need $75-100k for that. At which point instead of Austin, you're looking at Manhattan.

There's good reason why Generation X and the Millenial Generation is now being called Generation Debt- on average we're spending 108% of our income just to survive.

Re:The one you like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19240723)

That's a completely absurd statement. Of all the people I know personally (most of which are under 30), they all have decent quality of life and live reasonably within their means. I don't know a single person who's doomed to debt and a monastic lifestyle, and I only know one guy who lives with his parents (and he's a real idiot).

Maybe this is true if you live in France or some place with high youth unemployment, but I don't see one whit of it in Texas.

Re:The one you like (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241615)

Of all the people I know personally (most of which are under 30), they all have decent quality of life and live reasonably within their means.

Perhaps you don't know just how far in debt they are- or perhaps your idea of "a better standard of living than one's parents", which was once part of the American Dream, is the same as immigrants from South America.

I could not disagree more (5, Insightful)

anomaly (15035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240743)

The challenge is that the current generation of college students and recent graduates has been led to believe that they are entitled to a life filled with stuff and with little self-sacrifice required.

If *everyone* would learn to adjust their expectations about what constitutes a minimal acceptable standard of living so that they can live without debt within or - gasp - below their means - our culture would be wealthier, stronger, and better equipped to face challenges.

My next door neighbors are first generation immigrants from El Salvador. They have a three bedroom house which the two parents, three kids, his dad, her mom, share the house with two renters who live in the basement. 9 people in a 1700 square foot house! This is in one of the wealthiest counties in the States. The mom and dad have two jobs. The grandmother has a job, and the dad has occasional work on a third job. These are people who have little education and very poor English skills. They are thrilled to have the opportunity to live in this country, and they are making it happen. It's tough going, but a better deal than in Central America, and they consider it a privilege to have American citizenship. Perhaps we should, too.

Most of these college kids could live at home, have a part time job, enroll in community college for core credits, before transferring to a 4 year college, drastically cutting their tuition. They could refuse to allow themselves to spend more on their credit card than they can pay in a given month. They could live off-campus with several roommates to minimize housing costs. They could forego cable, cell phones and cars to reduce their expenses until their income increases.

Instead, our culture of consumption tells people that they should "buy it now." People actually think that they cannot expect to pay off a car or a house within their lifetime. Ridiculous!

We're generally narcissistic and convinced that stuff, power, or sex will satisfy us. This leads to frustration, deeper debt, and hopelessness.

It's not that life is hard and these kids are victims! It's that mostly they think that they have to obtain a standard of living that is higher than their income, and they become indentured servants at 20%/year interest.

Re:I could not disagree more (2, Interesting)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241441)

My next door neighbors are first generation immigrants from El Salvador. They have a three bedroom house which the two parents, three kids, his dad, her mom, share the house with two renters who live in the basement. 9 people in a 1700 square foot house! This is in one of the wealthiest counties in the States. The mom and dad have two jobs. The grandmother has a job, and the dad has occasional work on a third job. These are people who have little education and very poor English skills. They are thrilled to have the opportunity to live in this country, and they are making it happen. It's tough going, but a better deal than in Central America, and they consider it a privilege to have American citizenship. Perhaps we should, too.

Um, we could all live with 8-12 people in what we'd consider a 2-3 bedroom house without a bath. (For bath, you go to a public one down the street.) Yes, we could live like that, but we've chosen not to. I'm married with 2 kids and paying my mortage. Each of my brothers have their own homes that they are paying for each unmarried. My parents have a 4 bedroom house most likely paid for by now. Yes, all of us and some cousins could live in my parents home. That's not how our cutlure is geared for; it is generally looked down on in distaste. If you want to openly live like that, you've got to move into a neighborhood/culture where that's the accepted norm.

Re:I could not disagree more (4, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241687)

If *everyone* would learn to adjust their expectations about what constitutes a minimal acceptable standard of living so that they can live without debt within or - gasp - below their means - our culture would be wealthier, stronger, and better equipped to face challenges.

Exactly right. Instead, we had 20 generations of Americans where EACH GENERATION had a higher standard of living than the previous- up until the elimination of usury laws in the 1980s. Suddenly, the next generation had a lower standard of living than their parents.

Reinstate usury laws maximizing credit card and student debt at 10%, and I'd bet the easy credit would dry up- those currently paying 20% would get a break ont their debt, but they'd also never get a credit card again!

Re:The one you like (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239899)

As an anecdote to your comment: I was graduating with an engineering grad degree when I had a job offer from Bloomberg (the company). Even got taken to lunch by the future mayor. Great money, but I decided not to take the job. I didn't go to school for 7 years to crunch numbers in Manhattan (and maybe end up sucking on the barrel of a gun some day to escape). Turned them down without any backup offers.

Ah, but the money sure would have been good!

Economics (4, Informative)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239153)

Any related to economics. So, things like an actuary or something related to the stock market (e.g. analysis/prediction) would give high pay. Degrees in Physics and Math could get you there.

There is also several consulting firms that *love* Physics Ph.D.'s. Not sure about Math people on that one though. This one would require *a lot* of travel though.

Hope that helps :)

Re:Economics (1)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239693)

I second this. In fact, I'm a Ph.D. physicist who is seriously considering leaving physics and going into the financial field. It's good money.

But, one doesn't need to become a scientist to become a quant. Just get into a highly mathematical financial program now before wasting..I mean enriching, your youth on a Ph.D. There's a list of good educational programs in this wiki [wikipedia.org]

Scientist (5, Interesting)

Stranger4U (153613) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239157)

I'm a scientist working for a government subcontractor in Albuquerque (mostly for Sanida Labs and AFRL). Fresh out of school with a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Physics I started making $50K a year plus fringe benefits. To contrast, starting teachers salaries with a Master's degree are ~$30K a year.

Re:Scientist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239915)

30k a year for a teacher with a Master's Degree is standard everywhere in the nation (a friend got her MS and got bumped to 32k in Los Angeles, same in Phoenix). You can't compare yourself as a technical person against a teacher.

You need to compare yourself against people with the same level of degrees as you. What are the business/finance people making fresh out of school in the green Wells Fargo building? I bet its right below your salary, around 40-45k with just a Bachelor's in some business related field. Thats not even compared to the MBAs (equivalent to an MS) in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area.

Re:Scientist (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241093)

Contrast the difficulty and learning involved in an MS in Physics vs. an MS in Education. Ed is a cake program.

Re:Scientist (2, Interesting)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241117)

With a BA/BS in science you can expect to roughly earn as follows fresh out of college:

Biology: $12-14/hr
Chemistry(non-oil): $18-20/hr
Physics: $20-22/hr
Mathematics: $10-12/hr
Geology/Geosci (non-oil): $16/hr
Geosci(oil): $24-40/hr

Note that these are the salaries at the start and will go up quickly if you are worth it, are willing to relocate, and shop around. If you are good but have no "experience", just focus on getting a foot in the door.

Without a doubt (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239197)

Best paid job for those good with science and math is hedge fund manager. Top earners make $2,000,000,000 or more annually. As a bonus, you don't have to pay regular income tax on your pay. Good luck in your new career!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._E._Shaw_&_Co [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Without a doubt (1)

BritneySP2 (870776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239997)

Two billion, huh. Annually. At that rate, you could work just one day and be set for life.

Re:Without a doubt (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240303)

Not once you find out how many fun toys there are to buy with that kind of cash!

Re:Without a doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19240313)

If you have to ask where to get a job, DE Shaw is not for you. The only people who are going to get a job there are the people who already have more offers than they can deal with. To quote Waylan Smithers: "What's wrong with this country!? Can't a man walk down the street without being offered a job?"

investment financial analyst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239201)

Financial analysis is a tough job for the big investment firms. They all use hardcore math now
that math and physics can prepare you for. A great job for physics majors, at least until the market tanks.

Chemical Engineer, Petroleum Engineer? (4, Informative)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239221)

You'd make good money as a chemical engineer or petroleum engineer. This [payscale.com] claims $55-$100k depending on experience. Petroleum engineers also make good money.

One nice thing about the job is you get to work with huge cool dangerous equipment. If you work for the right company in the right capacity you might even contribute to solving some important problems, like petroleum dependency.

Re:Chemical Engineer, Petroleum Engineer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19241323)

There's a big shortage in the oilfield industry right now for field engineers. To compensate, oil and oil services companies are paying huge salaries 100k+ . However, the work is difficult, you'll be away from home most of the time in the desert or oil rig in an environment where the male to female ratio is terrible. If you're a female, expect to be sexually harassed, in which case you can sue and earn even more. If you're male, just make sure you're not the target. You'll be able to make over a million in less than 10 years at which point you will be in your 30s and sent back to headquarters/research/operations where you will oversee other junior field engineers. Unfortunately at this point in your life you will be in your 30s and will be desperately searching the remnants at bars looking for equally desperate women - or if you've made enough - superficial gold diggers.

Re:Chemical Engineer, Petroleum Engineer? (3, Interesting)

ElGanzoLoco (642888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241823)

Sure, the money's good - but you might end up working in some remote oilfield in the Middle East desert or - worse - offshore.

One of my friends just enrolled for a year work in a gas reprocessing field somewhere in the middle of the desert in Qatar. He's probably making well over 75,000 USD/year (his first job!!) Not hearing much from him again, but the description of the place and living conditions were just... scary.

I now live in Dubai (in a business that has nothing to do with oil and doesn't make remotely as much money) and I see these poor souls coming from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi etc for R&R: nightclub, booze, and cheap Russian hookers (Dubai as an endless supply of all three). Some of them look really traumatized ;)

Only a shortage for the brilliant (3, Insightful)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239247)

There is no shortage of math and science majors. I'm nearing completion of a PhD in science, and if I could go back 6 years, I would go to law school instead. Yes, there is a shortage of brilliant scientists and mathematicians because hey, our economy depends on innovation that comes from the elite few. Science and math jobs? Maybe you can call engineering jobs related to science and math and of course corporations don't want there to be demand of engineering students because that would drive up salaries.

Re:Only a shortage for the brilliant (1)

ak3ldama (554026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239345)

Science and math jobs? Maybe you can call engineering jobs related to science and math and of course corporations don't want there to be demand of engineering students because that would drive up salaries. Yea, we should tell people to go into something else, like Sociology or something.

Re:Only a shortage for the brilliant (1)

BritneySP2 (870776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240231)

How about studying "Problems of gay sexuality in mainland China"? What can be more exciting to spend your college years on?

Re:Only a shortage for the brilliant (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240543)

I'm nearing completion of a PhD in science, and if I could go back 6 years, I would go to law school instead.

You still could if you don't mind drowning in student loan debt.

Re:Only a shortage for the brilliant (1)

Jormundgard (260749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240557)

I wouldn't be so hard on yourself. Law degrees are more common than many people realize, and it's quite difficult to get a decent legal job, despite the larger market.

Re:Only a shortage for the brilliant (1)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241443)

Yup...thx for reminding me of that. i just need to keep telling myself that there were worse mistakes in life I could have made then getting a PhD

Re:Only a shortage for the brilliant (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241629)

While engineering salaries could stand to be a little higher, I have to say, after reading all these pathetic comments on here from people in science fields talking about how happy they are with $30k or $45k, the pay in engineering really isn't too bad compared to that.

If you're (you in the plural sense of anyone reading this) disappointed by your $50k salary in science, blame your fellow scientists who are all too happy to accept such a pathetic salary when they could get double that as an auto mechanic. Take a look at the other comments here to find them.

management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239303)

The ones that can't do real science go into management in a large well funded research project. Nothing worse than a physicist in management.

Day Trading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239309)

With some solid math and research skills you may be able to make a good living day trading on the stock market.

Re:Day Trading (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239721)

I don't think so. Math and research skills are useful for day traders, but they need more than that. At the least, they need to think on their feet, be able to multitask, and understand their own trading psychology. These aren't skills typically taught in a academic environment.

Talent goes where the money is (4, Interesting)

bcharr2 (1046322) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239361)

Anytime I see American corporations complaining about the need to outsource labor due to a "shortage of qualified American workers" it makes me laugh to myself. It is absolutely hilarious how the same corporations who ceaselessly discuss the virtues of an open market suddenly revert when it comes to the issue of paying high enough salaries to attract qualified candidates.

The talent is always going to go where the money is. If the serious money was in math and science (instead of finance and business) then the brightest young Americans would be pursuing careers in math and science.

Re:Talent goes where the money is (2, Interesting)

thechao (466986) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240277)

I'm not so sure about that. First, I would say that many high-paying jobs in Finance/Accounting actually get a lot of `borderline' mathematicians: mathematically able people who are not interested in `pure mathematics;' the same is true for statistics, actuaries, etc. etc. I distinctly remember being stunned to find out that there were >1000 `math majors' at my undergrad, since all of my courses were invariably attended by the same 8-15 students.

As an answer to his question, I would say `anywhere.' You should start by finding the R&D (or equivalent) positions at medium/large companies. (For instance, try Minute Maid (sp?), Pepsi, etc. My best offers for math-related work came from companies similar to this; they are always looking and will train you on the job for any applied maths/statistics you will need. The cool part is running `small' experiments---say Ohio---to test market penetration models.) If you are unskilled in programming this might complicate things a bit, since most companies are going to be interested in application more than theory.

Although you probably don't want to hear it, an MS in Math would take you a lot further; specifically, if you are interested in pure research, you're going to need a doctorate. I received a surprisingly in-depth undergrad compared to most other Math majors I've met, and yet the number of topics and depth is still astoundingly larger than what I learned.

If they won't pay your salary... (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240437)

...then you are overpriced for the market.

Here's the test: can you go out and form your own company and make more than you are being offered? If you cannot, then you've just discovered why somebody else doesn't want to hire you for that kind of money. Stop thinking about it as how much you are "worth" because of your educational expenditures, and start looking at the income you can reliably, continuously produce for your company. Once you have that number, divide it by three* and that's what your salary should be.

*okay, maybe two in a really large organization with low overhead, or if you fall at the very low or high ends of the payscale. But you're unlikely to be in either of the high/low paid cases.

Re:If they won't pay your salary... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19241347)

Here's the test: can you go out and form your own company and make more than you are being offered?

Along those lines, I'm a post-doc in bioinformatics so I could work from home with my own computer. I get paid $40K a year plus some rather meager benefits. The thing is, by the time you throw in the "overhead" and such that is charged by the organization that I work at, the actual cost to the government is closer to $100K a year. So could I form my own company, cut out the organization I work at, and get paid $100K a year directly? Probably not. That's not how the system works. But it does raise an interesting question about how you calculate the value of scientific research.

More broadly, since the original question was about science, how do you calculate the value of science? It's not like you can open up a science "restaurant" where you charge each customer $5-$10 for a bit of science. The free market works well for certain consumables but how do you place value on a scientific discovery? Sure, you can give the first person to make a particular discovery a monopoly on that discovery but what if someone else would have made the same discovery a few days later? Can you really justify giving the monopoly exclusively to the first person? For that matter, once someone makes a discovery, how are you even going to know whether or not someone else would have made the same discovery at a later time.

I'll admit that the free market works great for a lot of things but I have yet to see a free market scheme that really works for scientific discovery.

Re:Talent goes where the money is (1)

deepestblue (206649) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240803)

The companies are being consistent; you're the one that's not.

Part of the premise of an open market is free movement of labour. And that's exactly consistent with outsourcing labour to where the labour is cheapest.

Re:Talent goes where the money is (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241455)

Free movement of labor would mean having "open" borders (like they have within the EU, United States, and many nation-states)

Globally we only have free movement of capital, not labor. Hence, you can move your manufacturing from America to China, but you cannot move your Chinese workers to the States.

Re:Talent goes where the money is (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241717)

It seems to me that most scientists are quite happy making $35k or so, judging by some of the comments in other threads here.

I'm sure glad I went into engineering instead.

Short (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239373)

What I have seen is a bucnch of companies wanting more math/science people in order to make it easier for them to justify not giving a decent wage. The truth is that there is no lack of these workers, the companies just don't want to pay them for thier skills.

Re:Short (1)

Jormundgard (260749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240619)

I absolutely agree with this. People with technical skills exist, but rarely are managers willing to train them and pay them something comparable to what they'd consider "fair". Once a corporation gets enough money, it's far easier to lobby congress to increase the number of H1Bs and manipulate equally skilled people from poorer countries to work for lower salaries.

All hail the free market!

Just a question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239375)

Does business or law count? It seems to be the universal money spinner. Math and Science don't appear to get you much unless you manage to create The Next Big Thing (TM)

Teachers (2, Insightful)

Dop (123) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239395)

I'm not a teacher, but I don't think you should use teachers as an example of someone who should be paid less than someone in math and science. Frankly, I wouldn't put up with today's disrespectful teenagers even for a substantial raise.

Sure, there are some crappy teachers out there that give them a bad reputation, but you can say that about any profession.

Re:Teachers (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240043)

Teachers Salaries are actually a good deal in most areas. Teachers tend to complain how low their pay is but compared with other jobs they can get straight out of college with no experience. Teaching is a good deal you get a decent average/above average wages, but the down side is that the top wages for teachers are capped as well so after 20 years of experience you may be only 10-20 more then the teacher who just started out. In the Corprate Environment You normally start out a lot less then a teacher but after you gain more experience and prove your worth you can make Double or Triple your pay over 20 years, depending on supply and demmand.

Re:Teachers (1)

Dop (123) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240337)

In Illinois, starting teacher salary is about $24k. Maybe it's just a problem with our state. :)

Re:Teachers (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240471)

Not only that, but the hours are really good. Find me another job where you have 2 weeks off at Christmas, another week off for march break, and over 2 months off every summer, And you only have to work 8-4. And you get 1 hour lunch break. You also get benefits (all the teachers I know do), and you get to be part of a union, which gives you really good job security. It's a really sweet deal when you think about it. The top end is a little low, but why should experienced teachers get more money than the new teachers. They are doing the same job. They should make a little more because they have more experience, but I don't think they deserve anthing like twice as much. Otherwise you end up with the situation like with city bus drivers, where people are getting paid $70,000 to drive a bus. Sure they've been doing the job for 25 years, but that doesn't mean the are actually worth any more than the guy who's only been driving the bus for 5 years.

Re:Teachers (5, Insightful)

Mathonwy (160184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240895)

Sorry, but had to bring something up here:

Show me a teacher who only puts in the hours 8-4, and I'll show you a teacher that the administration feels "isn't putting in the effort", and "is only doing the minimum needed to get by".

And the thing is, they're right. 8-4 is just the time they are required to be AT SCHOOL, in the room. Any teacher worth their salt spends plenty of extra time making sure that their lessons are prepared for the next day (or week) and that they are generally ready for anything the class can throw at them. Teaching doesn't just "happen"; it requires a tremendous amount of prep and organizational work.

Also, the vacation is lengthy, but fairly inflexible. Hope you don't want to take any time off OTHER than what the district says, or you've got some problems. Want to take a month off in March instead? Too bad! It's definitely a trade off.

Don't get me wrong, the vacation time is nice, but it has its flip side, and if you think it's a 40 hour a week job, you're deluding yourself. (Or talking about the crappy teachers who DO deserve the low end.)

Which brings us to...
"but why should experienced teachers get more money than the new teachers. They are doing the same job"

Erm.

EXCUSE ME?

Let me turn it around, and see if I can point out just a little bit of hubris on your part. Why should an experienced software developer get more money than a new one? They're doing the same job? Why should an experienced ANYONE get more money?

Answer: Because they do it better. Because years of experience mean that they will generally be more efficient at whatever the job is, do it better, with fewer errors, and have more bandwith to deal with more things. They will also have the experience to deal with the stranger situations that pop up, and will generally require less supervision and be more valuable employees. If you somehow think that this doesn't apply to teachers just as much as it applies to anyone else, then you have a very distorted view of teaching.

Re:Teachers (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241185)

Answer: Because they do it better
Seniority doesn't equal doing a better job. If they are in fact a better teacher, than they should get paid more. Just as the more experienced developer who's better should get paid more. However, I've seen a lot of mediocre teachers who get paid more just by the fact that they've been there longer, and not because they are any better than any of the other teachers. Just like my example with bus drivers, just because you've been doing it for 25 years, doesn't mean that you're doing it any better. You can only be so good at driving a bus. As long as you stick to the schedule, and are courteous to the riders (something missing from a lot of the older drivers), and obey the traffic laws, you are doing about as good as you can do. I don't think that a developer who's been around for 25 years deserves more than the guy who's been around for 5 if he's never upgraded his skills, and actually does a worse job than the guy who'd only been around for 5 years. I'm not against people getting paid more for doing something better. However I am against people getting paid more just from the virtue of being there a long time.

Re:Teachers (1)

CyberSnyder (8122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241807)

My wife is a teacher and frequently puts in hours until 12:00 midnight or 1:00 am and does a lot of work on the weekends to prep for the upcoming week. She teaches third grade. Sure, you get the summers off, but remember that there is usually a week after the kids leave and 1-2 weeks before they return that are consumed with in service training and such. Plus you're supposed to get your Masters degree or lose your accredidation. Some positions are better than others, but I think the drop out rate is around 3/4 of teachers quit within the first 5 years of teaching. No Child Left Behind isn't helping things either.

Oh well, in summary, I won't use the "summers off" joke around my wife.

Re:Teachers (5, Informative)

Ariel (34151) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241909)

Not only is the vacation fairly inflexible, it's not always what other people think of as vacation. As someone who works for a school district, many of the teachers I know have to get summer jobs to pay the bills. Also, in order to keep my job and my certification, I'm required to take so many college credits every few years and I have to pay for it out of pocket. As for a job you can get "right out of college," many places now require a degree beyond a B.A. to be hired or to keep your job beyond a certain number of years.

For me and other people in my school, we are required to be at school from 8-4. However, we also run programs before and after school, often unpaid. During athletics, I might spend another 15 or 20 hours on the weekend supervising the student store. I coach Academic Decathlon for a stipend of $500 per YEAR. I run a peer suicide intervention program that also earns me a stipend, another whole $600 per year. Students often call my home or show up at my door at all hours. I tutor, I meet with parents, I run evening workshops to help students write college essays and do their FAFSA. That doesn't include grading or lesson planning or report cards or any of the million things that have to be done.

Last week was my last week of school and this week, I'm working at the district office for a week, revising curriculum so that it will work better for our students. I considered getting a summer job, but instead I have to go to school to take classes so I can keep my certification. I'll finish school the week before my fall inservice. In addition to specific college classes I have to take, I have to do yearly trainings on the weekend on topics like Fetal Alcohol Effect, Domestic Violence, and First Aid/CPR.

I don't mind doing a job where I make less money than I would somewhere else, because I made a conscious decision to leave my tech job and take a job in education. I do however mind being told how easy my job is, and how great the hours are, and how well I'm paid. I'm also tired of people who think I must not have been able to get a "real" job and that's why I got an education degree.

Re:Teachers (1)

asc99c (938635) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241417)

I take it you don't know so many teachers then. Both mine and my wife's mothers are teachers. Most teachers are teaching 8-4. Lesson preparations for the next day and marking homework from the previous day take up another couple of hours. Quite a bit of those long holidays are taken up marking extensive courseworks frequently set just before the end of term. You end up with slightly longer holidays, but no choice of when to take them.

Secondly a good teacher is worth way more than twice as much as a bad one (and most new teachers will be bad for a few years until they build up the presence to keep decent control of a classroom). Unfortunately in most schools, they aren't going to be getting much more money in just because the teaching is better. For the wider economy, a great teacher will produce a generation of better educated students which is going to be hugely beneficial even in pure financial terms. A great teacher is worth a LOT more than they are paid.

Re:Teachers (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241715)

Here at teh community college I work for (instructional tech. and teach as adjunct) a full time instructor has to work 28 hours per week (classroom and office hours) for the fall and spring terms - 31 weeks total, with a 3 week break between - and starts at $45k or so, with state health insurance and retirement packages, the opportunity to teach more (summer, more spring/fall classes) for adjunct pay (on top of your regular salary), etc.

On top of this, UF is here in town, so as you can imagine, there are *lots* of folks with BA/BS degrees (or MA/MS) working on the next level that would kill for that kind of job....

Slashdot trolling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239429)

Worked for me. Oh wait. You said "paying"...

President of the World Bank (2, Insightful)

ObligatoryUserName (126027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239457)

Math credentials worked for the last guy [slate.com] up to a point....

Finance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239481)

Investment banking etc. is a usual choice. But I would not recommend it. How about computer science jobs?

Move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239529)

Try Asia or Europe. In the US, a high income (and status) as a scientist or mathematician requires starting at low income, dedicating 20 - 30 years to climbing to the top, and leaving human wreckage behind you. Is this what you want? Go where you're valued.

Do you want fries with that? (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239579)

"...what career would you pursue coming out of college right now with a math or science degree?"

If it is not a graduate degree, you better be prepared to flip burgers.

The tags say it all (3, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239667)

Get an MBA, then do something in the financial industry, which has a stranglehold on everything else to the extent of destroying progress. American corporations and government no longer care for education or REAL progress, unless it can make a buck, and even then aren't willing to reward the people who actually create that progress.

Re:The tags say it all (1)

Kuvter (882697) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239941)

Get an MBA, then do something in the financial industry, which has a stranglehold on everything else to the extent of destroying progress.
You mean work for the RIAA?

Re:The tags say it all (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240101)

You mean work for the RIAA?

Nah, they're on their way out. No, I mean become a Hedge Fund Manager. Or a high class banker. Move to NYC, the only place the housing market bubble still exists.

Quantitative Analyst (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19241863)

Look for positions in derivatives pricing or risk management (usually called Quants) in a investment bank or hedge fund. You will need to have a strong background in probability theory and stochastic processes and learn about the principals of finance. You will probably need to do at least a masters (I took this course: http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/mathfin [imperial.ac.uk] -- there are similar ones in the USA).

To get a feel for the subject I recommend "The Mathematics of Financial Markets" by Elliott and Kopp and "Options, Futures and Other Derivatives" by Hull.

If you really want to go after the money, finance is currently your best choice.

Good luck.

Get more schooling, fool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239745)

Microprocessor Architect.

Con: Get to spend an extra 5-7 years avoiding real life after college whilst getting your Ph.D.

Pro: Six Figure Income.

Con: Every time microprocessors come up on Slashdot, and you make a small post correcting people's misguided ideas about how they actually work, your posts will be rated low -- while the loud drivel by clueless people will be rated highly.

Pro: It's kinda hilarious when it happens.

(US) Corporate R&D - RIP (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239781)

Most US corporate R&D centers (Bell Labs, IBM, RCA Sarnoff, Xerox PARC, etc.) are either long gone or a mere shadow of their former selves. (And no, that doesn't bode well for the future of the USA). If you want an R&D position related to science and math in the US - your options are academia or government. These don't pay as well as corporate used to. Also, government R&D is subject to funding cuts, cancellations, etc. (I've been told that NASA is having serious morale problems at it's R&D centers). Academia might be your best bet. The pay may not be great, but (if you get tenure) your position is very secure.

US Academic R&D - RIP (1)

mcoletti (367) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240837)

Some of the closing comments from various neuroscientists, roboticists, cognitive scientists, and AI researchers from the very recent "Decade of the Mind" [gmu.edu] symposium at George Mason University indicated that academic research funding in those areas is flat or in decline. My advisor lays the blame at the feet of the ongoing Iraq debacle, which is vacuuming huge amounts of monies away from all other aspects of government-based research funding.

Actuarial/Analyst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239821)

Analyst positions are in high demand, even the CIA is hiring new analysts currently. Analysts can cover pension analysis, benefits analysis, life-time analysis (life insurance), casualty insurance. Most of these are actuarial analyst positions, but every industry has different needs for data analysts and pay is typically fairly good (50k+). You've gotta be able to handle large datasets, and basic programming skills come in handy (I do VBA, C#, and SQL scripting fairly frequently)

I've got an econ + math degree and have actually gone into the actuarial field. One year of experience and 2 exams in and I'm over 50k (just 1 year out of college, I'm still 22) It requires some serious math background, and further learning, but is a very high paying field with lots of opportunity.

For science...I wouldn't know, I'm a math person.

Defense contractor (1)

Osurak (1013927) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239857)

What about working as an engineer for a defense contractor? There seems to be no shortage of work there, provided you can get a security clearance.

Operations Research / Applied Math (4, Informative)

MoneyCityManiac (651455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239871)

Applied math is a good bet. Operations Research ("OR"), as Wikipedia defines it, is "an interdisciplinary science which uses scientific methods like mathematical modeling, statistics, and algorithms to decision making in complex real-world problems which are concerned with coordination and execution of the operations within an organization." It's a mixture of math, stats, CS, and engineering.

There's OR applications in areas such as health-care, environmental management, forestry management, transportation, and much more. Environmental management, in particular, is something that operations research is going to play a huge role as government and industry focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

And because there's such a practical role towards it, there's plenty of support from government and industry, not just in terms of jobs at the end but also scholarships, fellowships, etc. Ask around a math, CS, or engineering department! I'm sure it won't be hard to find someone who can point you in the right direction.

Math degree - DSP (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239881)

If you are a math person, go into digital signal processing. Communications is still a growing field.

Nine months... what? (1)

tulmad (25666) | more than 7 years ago | (#19239917)

Texas teachers make $38-40K to start for nine months of work

I love this fallacy. If you're a teacher, and you actually only work 9 months out of the year, you're clearly not doing anything at all in the school. Add grading papers, dealing with parents, after-school activities, and all the other crap that gets shoveled onto teachers lately and the actual time worked mounts pretty quickly. A typical teacher's workday is not 8 hours, but more like 10 or 11. If you had to work 11 hour days for 9 months out of year, wouldn't you be begging for a vacation?

Re:Nine months... what? (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240143)

I would work 11 hour days for 9 months to get 3 months off. Especially time off when the season is nice?

Re:Nine months... what? (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240299)

Seconded! I'm an adjunct professor, but K-12 and college teaching pay is similar. Both salaries/wages factor in the work you're doing outside the classroom. Remember how they used to tell you that you should study for 1-2 hours for every hour of class you have? Well, teachers/professors end up doing the same thing.

While we're on the subject of teaching, math and science teachers are in demand. Sure, the starting salary may be a bit low but if you're good at what you do and you accumulate some grad credits while you're teaching (many schools/school systems will pay your tuition) you'll move up on the pay scale.

My dad was on the Board of Ed while I was in high school (in NJ) so I have some idea of what the pay scales look like. A BA might start at maybe 30k, but a BA plus 15 masters credits will start higher and a full MA will start higher than that. There were teachers at my school at the top of the pay scale making about 100k a year. If you want more than that, why did you go into math/science in the first place?

Re:Nine months... what? (1, Interesting)

shaka999 (335100) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240359)

Yeah sure. I'll give you that the first year a teacher has a class there is extra work getting everything setup but after that things get easier. If you take a look at our local elementary school parking lot after 3 you know they aren't staying late. When I drop my son off in the morning I see them coming in so I know they aren't there early. I don't buy it.

I've also heard the "we have to take classes in the summer". I know teachers and maybe once every 5 years do they take a class.

Don't get me wrong, I value what teachers do immensely but hearing this crap all the time doesn't help the teachers cause. If teachers would ditch the unions and tenure they might start being considered professionals along with doctors/lawywers/engineers. This might allow the good teachers to actually be compensated above the average and get people into the profession.

Re:Nine months... what? (5, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240857)

The great teachers put in the extra time. Most of the teachers don't do any more time during the school year than your typical "40 hour" salaried employee. And, for the record, I think they technically 10 month employees, since they are often required to be in school the week before and (sometimes after) the academic year.

Most teachers, esp. those whohave never done anything else, don't realize that most salaried workers work more than 40 hours for their paychecks, and often see about 15-20 days of total leave.
Most non-teachers don't understand that for most of the day, a teacher is "on" and teaching requires more "quality" work time during those 4.5-6 hours than your typical cube drone in the same span of time.

Me? I don't work for the Man, I am the Man. When I don't come in to work, I don't get paid. If I take vacation, I don't get paid. If I don't do my job completely, I don't get paid. I don't get health insurance, retirement benefits, disability, or any other perk unless I pay for it. I have to pay for my annual training twice - once for the training, and again in the time that I'm not able to bill clients. I work about 50 hours a week (plus /. time, of course - it's my watercooler) - when I'm not under a real crunch, though I find that trying to get in more the 60 hours is pretty wasted time. I used to be a company guy, and I've done some side teaching (not much, and not k-12). I don't do well with other people's schedules, so I work for myself. I couldn't deal with 30 adolescents every day, and I don't know a k-12 teacher who can design a seismic moment resisting frame.

Teachers actually get paid similarly what someone in industry with similar "ability" would get paid, on an annual basis, but they do have a lot more free time. If they choose to spend that free time on their classes and their career, that's their choice for the most part. Every discipline has people who like what they do, and part of that time is rightfully considered "hobby", not paid service. The trick is finding that person to work for you, or be your teacher, or provide you with their service.

Re:Nine months... what? (2, Insightful)

wass (72082) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241533)

If you take a look at our local elementary school parking lot after 3 you know they aren't staying late. When I drop my son off in the morning I see them coming in so I know they aren't there early. I don't buy it.

Are you seriously concluding that if a teacher isn't in the schoolhouse then they're not doing any work?

You have absolutely no idea of the extra work public school teachers go through. My mother has taught public school for the past 20 years, and she has ALWAYS brought work home with her to do. There were consistent homeworks to grade, materials to prepare, and lessons to plan out. She would make things out of construction paper (and we'd help her), or spend alot of time with MS Word making handouts for the next day, etc.

Do you honestly think all those lessons that teachers teach all day long magically prepare themselves? While it does get easier after a few years, there's ALWAYS extra stuff to do. And with textbooks and curriculums changing, as well as moving teachers around, the lessons are never static from one year to the next.

I've also heard the "we have to take classes in the summer". I know teachers and maybe once every 5 years do they take a class.

Well, my mother did go through extra night classes for several years to earn her Masters in Education, but as you say not all teachers do that.

If teachers would ditch the unions and tenure they might start being considered professionals along with doctors/lawywers/engineers. This might allow the good teachers to actually be compensated above the average and get people into the profession.

Unions and tenure are the things keeping the teachers from being exploited as just cheap labor, why do you want the teachers to get rid of them first? How about the schools (really the state and municipal governments) offer them professional salaries thus making the need for unions and tenures obsolete?

Re:Nine months... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19241295)

Depends what teachers and where.

Primary school teachers ages (3 - 10 or thereabouts iirc) in the UK start at 8:30, finish at 3:30 and don't have to really mark homework because it's very often not handed out at that level. Some schools are even talking about cutting out lunch and breaks and just having the school day and hence the teacher working day last from 8am to 1pm. You might have to speak to parents now and again but not very often and after school activities are your choice, if you choose to do them you get paid more for it. Other than that they get 6 weeks off in the summer, 2 weeks at xmas, 2 weeks at easter, 3 weeks worth of half term so work less than 9 months including bank holidays yet still get a very decent wage to boot! Any primary school teacher that complains is lazy, simple as that.

The story changes at secondary school level though (11 - 16) and I have a whole lot more sympathy for these teachers, their job is infinitely more difficult, the hours they work are much harder and yet they aren't really paid that much more.

In reality, what the UK needs is to half the wages of primary school teachers to reflect the part time job that it actually is (or at least is becoming) and invest this money into the more than full time job that comes with shed loads of abuse from mouthy teenagers that is secondary school teaching!

Re:Nine months... what? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241337)

Well lets do some calculations....
40k/(10.5 hours * 5 days * 4 weeks * 9 months) ~=~ $21/hours
40k/(8 hours * 5 day * 4 weeks * 12 months) ~=~ $21/hours

So in fairness teachers salarys are competitive with the market.
Some will say that is a lot of money for 9 months worth of work. Which we used you 10.5 hours average a day realize that they are getting the same per hours as someone making 40k for 12 months with 8 hour days.

But there are some devil in the details...
Most corperate people don't have the following....
Snow Days (it snows you should be there)
Every state holiday under the sun (we only take the big ones)
Long Thanksgiving break, Spring Break, Christmas Break (about 3-4 weeks off we get 2 weeks off).

So in total lets take an aditional month of work off the calculations...
So that bumps it up to about 24 an hour for a teacher
Lets assume the corp guy gets 3 weeks off too he gets about 22 an hour for work.

Now durring summer the teach has a chanse to do some summer work so lets assume they get a job at $10 an hour. For 2 months (giving some rest in between start and finish) so That is $3200 you can add to her yearly salary.

Then there is state health care, pensions, and a bunch of state benefits.

Teachers actually get a good deal, better then someone working corprate for the same salary.

 

Re:Nine months... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19241575)

I have an MS in Math and am teaching at a community college in Texas. At a community college (versus university or grade school), there is no pressure to do research, you don't have to answer to parents since your students are almost always 18+, the students are more interested since they are paying for the privilege of education, and you can kick any disruptive idiots out of your classroom without fear of retribution. The administration actually _supports_ you, imagine that.

In my first year, even teaching overloads (18 lecture hours instead of the standard 15 hours) and summer classes as well, I had two months off because of scheduled holidays and breaks between semesters, generally worked 30-35 hours a week total, and still made about $50k with decent benefits and retirement plan. (Teacher retirement in Texas is only good if you plan to meet the rule of 90 (age+years of service), which I plan on)

Certainly I'm not going to get rich like this, but I put a significant value on free time and my hobbies and this is a career that lets me do all these things and have money to spend on them.

law school -- IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19239923)

as dreary and terrible as it may sound, if you have a BS (good) or MS/PHD (much better), and then go to law school, you can write your own ticket in IP law. i have trouble seeing myself doin this as it would feel like working for the enemy, and am pursuing a worthless job in environmental advocacy.

Re:law school -- IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19241277)

With regard to IP Law, a MS/PhD is essential for biotech but much less so elsewhere. Big general practice firms with IP departments offer starting salaries of close to 150K. Patent prosecution firms typically offer considerably less. As far as working for the enemy, on average most patent litigators defend large corporate clients from patent lawsuits. Invalidating patents is difficult and demanding work but it can be rewarding. Also, working in patent law brings you into contact with many different fields. You can work with the top experts in particular fields and very talented engineers and researchers. If your willing to work the hours and take on the extra debt of law school it isn't a bad choice.

Re:law school -- IP (1)

ed333 (684843) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241631)

Anyone with a science or technical degree can be a patent agent. You do not have to be a lawyer to prosecute patents in the US, just meet the USPTO's qualifications and pass the exam. A patent agent can't litigate, but then most of the work at my firm is in prosecution anyway. If you have a family to support, it's a good job to have.

Gov't (4, Informative)

dostert (761476) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240335)

I'm finishing my PhD in computational mathematics in about a month, so I've been doing a huge job search right now.

Some of the best non-academic jobs out there for math/science are government or government contractors. Obviously, the NSA is a huge one. There are many other national labs and research institutes. Sanida, LLNL, NSWC, etc. Pay is good (not actuary good, but good) and benefits are very good. The added plus is you work a 40 hr week. With a masters, I think you can start between 50-60K. That beats starting at 70-80K in finance and working twice as much... but that's just my feeling.

On the other side, there are government contractors. Metron, SAIC are two big ones. There are numerous smaller ones. These will have slightly higher pay, and some retirement plans at them are really fantastic. The downside is that some smaller ones rely heavily on one specific type of research.

The other thing I've noticed in my job search is that, not to insult engineers, but many companies feel that if you know the math/science, you can learn the engineering quickly. If you have some basic experience in, say, math application in petroleum engineering, then Exxon would love to talk with you.

That being said, I'm staying in academia and doing a post-doc next year. Pay is okay (55K .. thats with a PhD though) and there is nothing quite like the freedom you get from an academic job.

Good luck to any of you who decide to go into math/science. The US REALLY needs good scientists!

Why pay for science and math??? (2, Insightful)

satchmodian (657710) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240381)

I have a degree in physics and don't work in physics because I wanted to make money. The fact is, to get paid well someone bigger than you has got to want what you do bad enough to pay up. There are 1.3 billion people in China, 1 billion in India, and 300 million in the U.S. Do you offer something so unique that people want to pay you more? Or are you easily replaced?

My fellow physics graduates that wanted to stay in physics wanted to do research. First, the physics that man understands is far beyond what we have been able to utilize, so we don't necessarily need new ground breaking research as much as uses for what we already know. Second, what you do eventually has to be monetized. If your employer can't make money off you, he doesn't need you.

Lastly, define "high paying". The average income in the U.S. is somewhere in the $35,000 range. Then there are the financial wizards, namely CEOs and money managers. All of the top 100 hedge fund managers/ traders made at least $150 million last year, with the top 5 or so making around $800,000,000 (traderdaily.com for info). Basically, if you think making $60,000 or $80,000 or even $100,000 is a lot of money, you aren't even close to getting rich. If you want to be a scientist, you have to want to do the science regardless of the pay. That wasn't me.

DoD Researcher (0)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240537)

Researcher jobs as civilian employees of the DoD (ARL, ONR, NUWC, etc.).

Pros:

  • Good pay - basically on par with industry standards.
  • Job stability. You basically never need to worry about getting laid off. Which is nice, because then you can focus on developing really important skills (statistics, optimization theory, etc.) rather than just the marketable ones (.Net development).
  • Sometimes really interesting technical work.
  • 40 hour work-weeks, medical, dental, good vacation accrual. I.e., very family-friendly.

Cons:

  • Often really uninteresting, pointless work. I.e., "I was hired as a research scientist. I'm being assigned as a *&^%&% software test plan?
  • Politics. I.e, "We can't get the source code for that, because it's in Fred's program, and Fred keeps their code close to their chest."
  • With the Bush Administration, it's often doubtful that making the military more powerful is making the world a better place.
  • Punishing paperwork and procurement. I.e., it's nearly impossible to get a PC even when you really need it.

Market research (1)

ytm (892332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240753)

(or in another words - applied math)

I have been working in agricultural market research company. We were receiving data from studies all over the world and had to do some data mining on them. Some quite advanced statistical methods were used so at one point we had to start organizing seminars for our clients. That was very rewarding for a math guy - I could do some math work and teach with decent salary.

Medical Physics (1)

Pigeon451 (958201) | more than 7 years ago | (#19240973)

If you enjoy physics, consider the medical physics stream. There is a massive demand for physicists in the medical field in the USA, Many people go into radiation physics and imaging physics. If you aren't tied down to a location, you will be in demand with just a med phys B.Sc. degree, a M.Sc. would help. If you do a PhD, enjoy your new found wealth.

You aren't doing medicine, but are researching methods to improve existing technologies such as MRI, X-ray, ultrasound, etc. Even med phys lab techs earn good money. You also have the chance to do clinical work, depending on the type of place you work at.

Better get that PhD (2, Informative)

steelerguy (172075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19241067)

Better get your PhD if you want to make some money with a math or science degree. If you are just getting a BS, chances are you will make squat unless you change fields.

If you do get a PhD, then apply for a job at a hedge fund company. You can make very respectable money at a company like that, although they generally have their pick of the litter.

I want advice too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19241625)

What would be a good for me that pays at least $50K. I recently got a physics degree, but I'm 38 years old. I would need to stay in the Dallas area. THANKS!
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