Register to reply 
Don't take mathematics.by Jimmy Snyder
Tags: mathematics 
Share this thread: 
#1
Apr309, 07:43 AM

P: 2,179

Here is a site that puts Physicists at number 5 in the highest paying jobs. Mathematics isn't mentioned at all. The bad news is that they project there will only be 1000 more jobs in 2016 than there were in 2006.
msnbc I'm a software engineer. That's at the bottom of the list. Should I worry that it's at the bottom, or be glad I'm in the top 20, ahead of mule skinner? I find it interesting that they report the same number of Lead Computer Programmers as they do Computer Programmers and make the same projection for 2016. I attribute this to the fact that whenever a programmers sends out a resume, they always claim that they were lead. 


#2
Apr309, 08:22 AM

Sci Advisor
P: 2,718

Very interesting...
From the link: "Physicists observe the laws of physics, develop new theories and apply their knowledge to the development of products and scientific processes. Mean annual salary: $93,073 2006 employment: 17,000 2016 projected employment: 18,000" If you delve a little deeper, the job bank the article links to apprears highly biassed towards medical physics. And there is no mention of what constituted "physicist"  whether that was someone with a B.Sc. degree, or a Ph.D. and a couple of postdocs under his or her belt, which weren't counted in the average. Still, I think it's evidence to suggest that studying physics is not a bad career choice. 


#3
Apr309, 08:38 AM

Mentor
P: 15,167




#4
Apr309, 08:47 AM

P: 1,743

Don't take mathematics.
Holy cow, what an impressively dumb article. How many times do I have to say it?
Salary is a really bad measure of the financial value of a career The article gives means! MEANS! Did that not tip you off? Did you not see the word "mean" and say to yourself "Self, this statistic has no value whatsoever?" Did you not stop and ask "What's the distribution look like?" "What's the standard deviation?" "How does the median compare to the mean?" If I offered to sell you an anuity that paid, on average, $110,000 a year, would you buy it? Or would you ask those pesky little questions like "What does it cost" and "When do the payments start, when do they end, and how many of them are there?" Pesky little questions that define the entire value of the annuity? And yet we accept that a job pays well by only looking at the mean yearly payment. Anyone who reads articles like this and isn't offended by the very premise should be ashamed of themselves. That includes both of you. (edit: at time of original post this referred directly to jimmysnyder and choppy) Last time I figured up the net present value of the two, a mechanical engineer making 6080k significantly out earned a PhD physicist making, towards the end of his career, almost twice as much. Can you see why? Salary can be very misleading. 


#5
Apr309, 09:17 AM

P: 490

I'm wary of those statistics. The BLS seems to be using different data...



#6
Apr309, 09:32 AM

P: 2,157

Indeed, don't take mathematics (or for that matter physics or any other science subject) if all you want is to make a lot of money. Mathematics and other sciences are fundamentally about something else than "making money".
E.g. I published a paper recently about a nice result in mathematical physics. This activity, from start to finish, was not related to or motivated by "making money". 


#7
Apr309, 11:04 AM

P: 33




#8
Apr309, 01:36 PM

P: 16

You might find this interesting: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123119236117055127.html
"The study also considers pay, which was determined by measuring each job's median income and growth potential. Mathematicians' annual income was pegged at $94,160...." 


#9
Apr309, 02:21 PM

Math
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
Thanks
PF Gold
P: 39,545




#10
Apr309, 02:23 PM

P: 2,179




#11
Apr309, 04:43 PM

Sci Advisor
P: 1,866

Oh do grow up. There's more to life than just money.
Besides which, you're not going to have a good career doing something you're not interested it. You'll just end up being another drone counting down the clock until punchout time. Take the subjects that interest you. 


#12
Apr309, 04:58 PM

P: 2,179




#13
Apr309, 06:50 PM

Sci Advisor
P: 2,718

I agree with most of Locrian's points. The data isn't very very revealing. And that was essentially the point I was trying to make. We are not told at which point in a career a person is desgnated "physicist" and therefore that annual mean may not reflect length of time in school or postdoctoral work, etc.
As well, since it is not a median, it is perhaps not an accurate reflection of a salary a physicist may actually have  as the mean could be biassed by outliers who make extreme salaries (like say, the physicists who develop patents or businesses, but for some reason retain the title). But I do not think mean annual salary is completely invalid. As I suspect the median and mean will not differ too much from each other (my guess is that the founder of JDS Uniphase wasn't included in this survey). The mean gives a quantitative snapshot of the career path. I agree that there are better metrics to use such as gross cummulative earnings, but event that is not perfect. In the end, the career of "physicist" has been assessed, compared with other options that a student interested in pursuing some kind of science or engineering would tend to consider, and has been found not to be the wet blanket that some people would make it out to be. 


#14
Apr609, 12:12 PM

P: 1,743

For instance, academic physics has suffered a huge pay cut since the early 70's without actually reducing the inflation adjusted salary much by increasing the number of years before employees actually earn that salary (and reducing the probability that they ever will). 


#15
Apr609, 12:27 PM

P: 1,743

I'm going to put forward this wild idea that doing something awesome that you love and getting paid well for it is even better than doing something awesome that you love and not. Crazy, yes? I'm going to go even farther and point out that often we, as human beings, can love more than one thing. Also, sometimes the same thing we love may offer different paths, some of which are more financially valuable than others. I propose we should consider all our choices and make informed decisions. Only considering the financial returns of a career is a poor method of career choice. So is not considering them. 


#16
Apr609, 02:36 PM

P: 2,157

Well, if you want to compare the earnings of a physicist to someone who doesn't work in academia, the first thing you need to take into account is the actual amount of work they do. E.g. a typical postdoc gets paid for 40 hours per week, but in reality he works 70 hours per week.



#17
Apr609, 02:46 PM

P: 6




#18
Apr609, 02:51 PM

P: 6




Register to reply 
Related Discussions  
What is, and was Mathematics?  General Discussion  6  
I and Mathematics  Academic Guidance  6  
Using the language of mathematics, state and prove that mathematics is a language  General Math  40  
Mathematics, is it for me  Academic Guidance  12 