Finished my masters... what now?

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Finished my masters... what now?

Post by boltzmannsbrain »

I discovered this forum 3 years ago, while I was still working full-time in between my bachelor and masters degree. Now I have finished my masters in engineering in chemistry (it's a lot more chemistry and chemical engineering and I would not have the qualifications to work with "traditional" chemical engineering like reactors, plants etc. I've specialised in materials science, catalysis and nanotechnology.)

I'm standing at a crossroad:

1) Find a job, most likely in a pharmaceutical company, within quality assurance/quality control, and get paid about 5500 USD a month pre-tax (and tax is probably 45-55%) as a minimum starting salary according to the labor union.

2) Do a phd. It's set to 3 years and pays about 3900 USD a month pre-tax, if I stay in my Scandinavian home country. I wouldn't be against moving to other countries, but the phd system differs vastly and probably only Scandinavia, Austria and Switzerland have attractive programs.

There is no doubt in my mind that I would find the phd the most challenging and exciting. I've talked to a couple of people working in QA/QC and it is by all accounts an extremely boring and routine job. However, most pharmaceutical companies are attractive places to work, probably more so than universities. I'd probably also have to work less.
The phd is setting me up for a career in academia which I want to avoid. Ideally I want to work with research and development in a company but there's only one company near me where they work with my area of specialisation. It would not be easy, but of course not impossible, to get in. I wrote my master thesis there. I'd also need a phd to work in R&D, a master degree is not sufficient.

Could you offer me some advice?

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Re: Finished my masters... what now?

Post by fiby41 »

In the ERE book it is said that doing arduous work like completing PhD helps to build necessary discipline required for ERE.

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Re: Finished my masters... what now?

Post by henrik »

Does it really have to be one or the other? How about working part time for the industry while doing the PhD? Or doing the research in a field that will potentially grow into a business?

I think universities in many European countries should pay attention to how research is much better integrated with business in the US. At least it seems that way to me.. for some reason, there is a romantic notion of "pure" academia that is much more prevalent in European education (I am not sure specifically about Scandinavia).

My wondering is inspired by the fact that I've been contacted twice this year already by PhD+ level researchers in good universities looking for practical industry problems to solve as part of their research interests and initiatives to develop ties between academia and industry. I find it encouraging:)

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Re: Finished my masters... what now?

Post by JamesR »

Well, it doesn't sound like there's all that much downside to going for the phd? You make 1600 USD less, but perhaps tax bracket is smaller as a student. You get to spend 3 years doing something you're interested in, and can still save up for ERE as you go. Afterwards you can try for the R&D job, or failing that, just take a QC one. Chances are you'll learn about other jobs you might be able to do during the phd years.

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Re: Finished my masters... what now?

Post by Peanut »

With a PhD you have a shot at your ideal job (and not just in your home country); without it you are sentencing yourself to a boring job that pays well but has little else going for it.
Seems like you already know what you really want to do?

BTW getting paid 3900/ month to be a student is amazing. I was paid 1000/month and thought that was great.

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