Salary: Postdoc penalty

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Doing a US postdoc in the biomedical sciences can cost you future earnings.

Completing a US postdoctoral-research stint in biomedical sciences leads to thousands of dollars in lost earnings, a study finds (S. Kahn and D. K. Ginther Nature Biotechnol. 35, 9094; 2017). Researchers tracked the careers of 10,402 people who received a biomedical PhD in the United States between 1980 and 2010. They found that, ten years after graduating, those who had done a postdoc earned an average of US$12,002 (11%) less than those who had not. “Ex-postdocs pay an earnings penalty for up to 15 years,” the study says, noting that the penalty could discourage top-level candidates from pursuing careers in biomedical science. Over that period, ex-postdocs earned $128,297 (17%) less in non-tenure-track academic research; $239,970 (21%) less in industry; and $161,142 (17%) less in government and non-profit positions. The study found that non-postdocs were as likely as ex-postdocs to work in government or non-profit positions, suggesting that hirers and managers in those sectors do not seek candidates who have completed postdoctoral research. Employers outside academia place no financial value on skills or training acquired through a postdoc position, the study says.

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