Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join Isaiah as he reveals how PhD salaries in academia remain stagnant in spite of inflation

Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s episode…

  • First, Isaiah reveals why PhDs in academia are alarmed 
  • Next, he shares the cause of the current inflation 
  • Finally, Isaiah reveals how PhD salaries are decreasing due to inflation and the strategies to stay ahead 

From This Week’s Show… 

Why PhDs Are Alarmed

When the pandemic hit, several PhDs started panicking. Uncertainties set in, PhDs questioned their course of action. I think this paid off in many ways, a lot of PhDs instantly woke up from their slumber. PhDs realized academia does not guarantee  job security. The numbers emphasized that not even tenured professors are protected in academia. Academia has a way of luring you into a false sense of security, but even PhD students had their stipends at certain universities cut. Academia suffered furloughs, pay cuts, funding and tenure losses. The plight of postdocs was revealed.

The misconception that most of the funding came from grants was cleared up. That’s something that really came to light. Get a grant, get your own funding and things are secure, the myth was debunked. The lack of support for higher education exposed. It turns out that the university actually relies on tuition from undergrads – and not on grants – for funding.

Depending on the graduate school there was a 20%- 21% drop in the first year tuition, and this is why higher education is suffering. Once the pandemic hit, hundreds of thousands of losses not just in the U S but in other countries were tracked. So what’s going on now? While people are now scrambling out of fear but at the same time, PhDs are getting shoved into a false sense of security. 

These PhDs will eventually have to face unemployment, no career, future being completely dependent on your PI, working for free.

What Is The Cause Of The Inflation

There’s something weird going on right now. The job market’s been kind of a mystery. 

We have noticed an alarming 81% drop in hiring since November 2020. I’ve been harping on that number but it hasn’t changed significantly. There is a lot of liquidity in the market right now. Several governments have provided assistance to people that has resulted in a lot of liquidity- a cash influx. 

PhDs received some extra money back from taxes, stimulus cheque etc. That has put a lot of PhDs into sleep. They have become complacent with temporary relief. And so there’s no urgency to get a job. But now, there is a simultaneous increase in unemployment as well. 

My concern is once this money runs out -the inflation subsides- there’s going to be a mass Exodus out of academia. It’s hard to tell people that are comfortable in moderate pain to take this seriously, because they think things are going to get better. The prices have doubled but not your PhD stipend and your postdoc salary.

Inflation Versus PhD Salaries In Academia

Globally, the prices have doubled, the supply chains have been broken. There is surplus demand but not enough supply to meet it. You should get practical, if you’re a PhD, what are some of the prices you could see going up around you? You may not be a finance PhD but these things would affect you as well.

You might have some extra assistance right now but eventually that would run out. Don’t just hang out in academia, things are not going to get better. You can’t put off your job search for another year and wait until the moderate pain turns into massive pain. This is what most PhDs are doing, it’s too late.  Soon, you’ll run out of options and you’ll be in desperation mode.

You need to think, if inflation is occurring and prices are getting more expensive, what about our PhD salaries? PhD salaries are unfortunately not keeping the pace, they’re actually going down. You need to take your job search seriously because while you stay in academia, employers are redirecting their money from hiring into marketing their products, their services, their treatments. They face the dire need to promote their product line to save their companies. Now that means right now is a great time to reboot your job search. 

So, if the last couple of months you’ve just stabilized yourself—caught your breath—, then now is a great time to reboot. Get ahead of the tidal wave. People will eventually see the inflation when all of this liquidity runs out. Get ahead of the curve, cross the competition.

It is time to reboot your job search. As always, remember your value as a PhD and start thinking and acting like a successful industry professional.

** for the full podcast, check out the audio player above.

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