how much is my Phd worth?
November 18, 2014 2:53 PM   Subscribe

I have no full-time work experience outside of assistantships and internships. How much should I expect when I enter the non-academic market?

I'm about to get my PhD in the social sciences (provided I pass my defense, ack). I have one offer from a federal office but it's in the low 60k range. I'm also interviewing at other private places and non-profits now.

What should I expect? How can I negotiate without full-time work experience?
posted by inevitability to Work & Money (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The marketplace will tell you what they're willing to pay, and read this article that was linked earlier today, and that I just linked to in another thread.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:59 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Depends on where you look for a job, what your exact area is, etc. Glassdoor has some helpful salary information, so you might want to start poking around there.
posted by sockermom at 3:03 PM on November 18, 2014

Best answer: There's a huge difference between private industry and non - profit and also between industries. research typical pay scales for your industry. your PhD is experience, even if not technically a job, and will count as such. 60k sounds reasonable for a first government job. For a similar position industry, I'd expect about 20k higher. tip from a wise friend- never be the first to say a number in salary negotiations. apparently it's well known in the biotechnology industry that former academics will ask for laughably low salaries.
posted by emd3737 at 3:05 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also if you're in the US, pay attention to GS level for federal jobs and read up on it. you are probably a 9 but it's better to be at the low end a position offers (GS 9 -11) rather than at the high end (GS 7-9) as there is room for advancement.
posted by emd3737 at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

When I was in your position I was a gs-11, abd. Having PhD in hand did nothing for me pay scale wise. You will qualify for loan forgiveness in the public sector though.
posted by k8t at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2014

Best answer: I have no full-time work experience outside of assistantships and internships . . . I'm about to get my PhD in the social sciences . . .I have one offer from a federal office but it's in the low 60k range.

The really tough thing here is your lack of full-time work experience as someone who is in their mid-twenties to late-thirties (guessing). In my federal agency, that might get you a GS-9 or maybe a 11 depending on the kind of work and how much someone wants you, but you're going to have to try to struggle to demonstrate work experience that makes you a candidate.

Honestly depending on which federal agency it is in your situation I might take the offer on the table. Federal jobs can be extremely interesting and rewarding, and once you're a permanent employee (I assume this is what you've gotten offered) you can go anywhere in the government without too much difficulty.
posted by arnicae at 4:55 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think that sounds like a good offer, especially since I know others who are about to finish a PhD and have no idea what they are going to do when they are done. Remember that it's just a starting wage, and it's definitely better than ending up with no job at all.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 6:28 PM on November 18, 2014

Best answer: Find out whether it's on a career ladder and, if yes, to what. Then ask if the office promotes on time. If you're going to get a 20-40k pay raise over the next two to three years that should be a big factor in your decision. Pay in the private sector can be a lot more stagnate.
posted by whoaali at 7:20 PM on November 18, 2014

Federal jobs tend to provide extra benefits including job security, a government pension plan which often comes on top of Social Security (double-dippers). $60,000 is not a bad starting salary compared to other places.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:12 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I work in private sector research, in the Washington DC area. We hire PhD social scientists with not much other work experience quite often. Salary would depend on the specific skills you bring -- people who are high quant will get more, people with a unique and in-demand specialty will get more, people with general research skills will get less. The range would be 60-80k.
posted by OrangeDisk at 8:39 AM on November 19, 2014

Oh, and when I said "in-demand specialty" above, I don't mean in the academic sense of some fancy-pants statistical knowledge or cutting edge research into a specific topic area. I mean in-demand by our clients, which are mostly the federal government. So it would refer to a specific area of research the government funds through contracts (not grants), within which there are not many people with special expertise.
posted by OrangeDisk at 8:42 AM on November 19, 2014

Response by poster: This is helpful, thanks everyone. I am heavily quant skilled, and supposedly I could rise 20k more in a few years on the fed office job.
posted by inevitability at 10:01 AM on November 19, 2014

« Older Negotiating without experience   |   Best lube? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.