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Job outlook for PhD holders


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I just heard some troubling news from NPR today. It seems that now, even bio-medical scientist students are now training for jobs that don't exist. What caught my attention was also the fact that it was one of the few articles NPR posted NOT related to campus rape haha. 


They mentioned that 50% of bio-medical science work is being done by students for free or very cheaply. I know this is not related to sociology, but I figured if bio-medical PhD holders have such a bleak job outlook, how bad is it going to look for Soc PhD holders? 


I'm planning on visiting UIC, UC, and probably a couple of other schools in Indiana or possibly Michigan with PhD programs in sociology. I don't have great GRE scores, but I do hold a Master's Degree in Applied Sociology, so I'm hoping that will weigh heavily into their decision to admit me or not. 


But before I commit to 5-7 more years of higher academia, I would like to get some people's two cents on the job outlook here. Since for whatever reason, we decided to cut so much funding in public schools, will it be hard to find Soc programs with good funding? And by that, I mean enough funding to get me the work experience I need to be marketable in the work force. Too much of my experience is rooted in academia, and at this point, I'm convinced that employers don't care about academic experience (for the most part at least). 


Should I just pursue a career in non-profit work or human services, or should I commit to the PhD idea? Let's be realistic here, will the outlook for a Soc PhD holder be any better than it currently is for this Soc Master's Degree holder? 


I'd appreciate your thoughts!

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics can be useful for quick numeric answers, but sources like this can also often give you a generalized looking glass. I was hoping to gather some different personal experiences, since my personal experiences have not at all matched up with what I saw on that website. An open-ended view from multiple perspectives may help shed some light on my question here. Thank you for the link though.

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When I was looking at what field to pursue I read a study released by ASA that currently the field is operating at a deficit, with more PhDs retiring from academia each year than new PhDs graduating to replace them.  Granted, some departments are shrinking but I think you are actually in a fairly good position if you're a sociologist.  It also depends whether you're willing to teach at a community college or join a research center rather than teach at a 4-year institution, at least the first few years after you complete the doctorate.


As far as getting funding/experience goes, it really depends on the school.  I feel like I get more experience in my department than the sociology department offers at the university I attend, but they do have a decent funding package.  

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I don't think you should compare job opportunities in the social sciences to those in the physical sciences. The disciplines are characterized by very different structures, and the demand for workers from each differ dramatically.

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This article is helpful: 



There was a discussion about this over the summer at ASA. To recap: there are job openings, but not necessarily in the areas people are interested in. The two fields that are posted the most are positions in health and criminology. However, people applying for these positions may be interested in a variety of topics and still get the jobs. If no one applies for these spots, more often than not they will hire the best candidate regardless of areas of specialization. 

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