Monday, August 07, 2006

PTI and Salary

I was watching PTI today (who knew Wikipedia would turn up before an ESPN link and would have so much detail on the TV show!), and Wilbon wondered how much someone in the pit crew for NASCAR drivers made annually. I'll defer posting the answer till tomorrow (unless someone cares to put it in the comments) so that people can ponder it for a while.

However, I thought I'd take the opportunity to mention physicsist/professorial salaries. Taking my extended family as a small sample, people have little idea what a professor makes. Some people seem to think I should be well-off, and others offer to lend me money! You can take a look at some averages over at the CHE, but there's a fair amount of spread. I've seen advertised starting salaries at podunk, rural colleges in the mid-$40Ks, and I've seen senior salaries top $120K. And apparently some fields get paid lots more, but in physics, I'd hazard that the bulk of us make between $50K and $90K (that's not including any summer salary).

Update: No PTI watchers out there? $75K plus bonuses. Not sure what I make of it. I wouldn't want to risk my life to change tires and fill gas, but I'm sure lots of people would love to be so close to the action.

6 comments:

Sailor Moon said...

Physics Today is full of handwringing about the absense of women and minorities in physics.

You'll hear plenty of talk about how women and majorities just can't cut in in physics, but none dare speak the truth: there aren't any attractive opportunities in physics. A person who is talented and ambitious enough to succeed at physics can get compensated much better, in every way, if they do something else.

The best you can look forward to is mediocre pay and a lifetime of training graduate students who always wind up doing something else. If you're an American particle physicist, you might just find your whole field shut down and need to go begging to the Europeans or the Chinese to get a little time on an accelerator.

Sailor Moon said...

Physics Today is full of handwringing about the absense of women and minorities in physics.

You'll hear plenty of talk about how women and majorities just can't cut in in physics, but none dare speak the truth: there aren't any attractive opportunities in physics. A person who is talented and ambitious enough to succeed at physics can get compensated much better, in every way, if they do something else.

The best you can look forward to is mediocre pay and a lifetime of training graduate students who always wind up doing something else. If you're an American particle physicist, you might just find your whole field shut down and need to go begging to the Europeans or the Chinese to get a little time on an accelerator.

Ghafla said...

I think Sailor Moon overstates a bit, as being a professor is not the only thing you can do with a physics Ph.D. I work for a government research facility that probably employs something like 200 Ph.D. physicists, and I've certainly met my share of physicists from industry as well. These aren't particle physicists, of course; the ones where I work are mostly AMO or solid state or the like. They work alongside Ph.D. chemists and electrical engineers and materials scientists, doing the same sort of work. The non-academic job market for physics is nowhere near what it is for chemistry (where non-academic jobs constitute a large majority of employment opportunities for Ph.D.s), but it's definitely there for experimental physicists who work at the bench scale.

Jose IRS said...

I think you have very good salaries. I am professor in Spain, I teach 6h per week and my salary is 15K.

Angry said...

SM says "there aren't any attractive opportunities in physics. A person who is talented and ambitious enough to succeed at physics can get compensated much better, in every way, if they do something else."

Wow, I'd like to hear more about what must have been some pretty bad experiences in physics.

Certainly, such a person could get more money elsewhere, but being a professor is pretty darn awesome. Do I really need to convince people of this? I effectively have no boss. I set my own hours (I even get a choice of when my classes are scheduled). I decide what equipment to buy. I pretty much decide what to research (modulo grant pressures). Pretty much most of the stuff I like to do is part of my job, play in the lab, build stuff, read science journals, compute stuff, write computer programs.

There is certainly a downside and I'm not saying people should shoot for this job, but it's still a darn good life even if you'll never become rich (financially).

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NASCAR's drivers have an excellent salary, I think that they after their years in the carrers they will be millonaries.