Is there really only one job for a Ph.D.?

In my daily mental exercise of reading the sad perspectives of ailments in our society, I ran across a statement that makes me question the scope to which we work as a society.

“To some people, this state of affairs has all the trappings of a pyramid scheme. Graduate schools and principal investigators take on too many students because they are inexpensive, work hard, and help to get papers published. At the same time, the graduate schools and investigators know full well that not all the students can move up the pyramid. In this view, the university is not an educator so much as a scientific sweatshop. (http://chronicle.com/article/For-Science-PhDs-There-Is/131307)”

Many of us can very much agree on the next-to-nothing pay, but what I question is what our society is doing with higher educated people. The same article talks about an imbalanced supply and demand of too many PhD’s with not enough jobs, but is that really the problem or do we just not know how to utilize people with more specific training? A parallel question would be whether the things learned in academics beyond a masters degree are worth anything to society in the context of employment.

One common job opportunity I hear from a variety of specialists is the opportunity to do consulting. What this usually means is the cost is too prohibitive to have someone of this caliber on staff so periodic temp work is the best option for a company. To me, I really can’t see a PhD meaning I have a life of consulting and/or being a faculty because there are only two options. Maybe we just need to redefine the PhD so there are more opportunities. Otherwise, it seems we only have PhD’s so we can create more PhD’s.

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