With commencement season just around the corner, it’s a good time for Ph.D. students to remember that you too will enter the workforce. To help you figure out your next step, a new interactive infographic allows you to explore the Ph.D. employment landscape over the past 20 years. The tool allows users to slice and dice the data based on various factors, including discipline, so tailor the information to you and find your fit.
Overall, by the time Ph.D. holders are 10 to 14 years out of grad school, just over 40% are working at 4-year universities; that number has been relatively consistent over the 2 decades. Another 40% are employed at for-profit companies. The remaining are at 2-year colleges, nonprofit organizations, or government agencies. As of 2013, the most recent year the infographic captures, roughly 75% of Ph.D. recipients 1 to 4 years out of grad school report that R&D is part of their job description. By the 10 to 14 year mark, approximately 60% are still doing research, and about 40% have managerial or business operation responsibilities.
Many of the career trends that the infographic highlights haven’t changed much over the past 20 years, but one area that has seen significant transformation is the demographics of degree holders. Consistent with earlier reports, representation of women has increased across science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. Recent Ph.D. recipients in the life sciences, for example, went from approximately 35% female in 1993 to almost 50% in 2013. But women still remain a minority in other STEM fields, including engineering and the physical sciences. Representation of blacks and Latinos showed marginal improvements across STEM fields but continue to be in the single digits. The percentage of Asians among recent degree earners ranges from the low teens in psychology to 46% in engineering, according to the most recent data.
As a student, your career may feel like a large unknown, and the job hunt can be disheartening. But the data offer some encouragement: 85% of recent Ph.D.s report finding satisfaction with their jobs, and that number increases over time.