In 1995, 49 percent of science and engineering doctorates were working in educational institutions, primarily 4-year colleges and universities. Another 30 percent were employed in private for-profit companies and 6 percent were self-employed. Local, state, and federal governments employed 10 percent of science and engineering doctorates and not-for-profit organizations accounted for 5 percent (see Table 8).
- Mathematical and social sciences had the highest proportions of doctorates employed in educational institutions (67 and 66 percent, respectively), while chemistry and engineering had the lowest (33 percent for each field).
- Chemistry and engineering doctorates were most likely to be employed in private for-profit companies (55 and 54 percent, respectively). Only 11 percent of social sciences Ph.D.s were similarly employed.
- Twenty percent of psychology Ph.D.s were self-employed. Doctorates in this field were also most likely to work in not-for-profit organizations (9 percent, compared with 5 percent of the total).
- Earth/atmospheric/marine sciences doctorates were employed in government at the highest rate, 21 percent.
Occupation was defined on the survey as the "kind of work you were doing on your principal job held during the week of April 15, 1995." Thirty-eight percent of science and engineering doctorates were working as scientists (including social scientists and psychologists), 28 percent were postsecondary teachers of science or engineering, 13 percent were top/mid-level managers, and 9 percent were engineers. These occupations were distributed differently within employment sectors and by years since doctorate (see Tables 9 and 10).
- Predictably, most of those working in educational institutions were teachers (62 percent), but 8 percent were top/mid-level managers, including deans, administrators, and department chairs. Another 27 percent were scientists or engineers, with biological scientists being the largest single component of this group (10 percent of the total in educational institutions).
- In private for-profit companies, 21 percent were engineers, 19 percent were top/mid-level managers, and 11 percent were chemists.
- Nearly one-half of those self-employed were psychologists (48 percent).
- The occupations most frequently listed by those in private not-for-profit organizations were top/mid-level managers (21 percent), psychologists (19 percent), and biological scientists (13 percent). These same occupations were the three largest components of the government sector (18, 12, and 15 percent, respectively).
- As years since the doctorate increased, the proportions who were either top/mid-level managers or postsecondary teachers of science or engineering increased. Top/mid-level managers grew from 4 percent for those with 5 or less years since the degree to 18 percent for those who were more than 25 years since doctorate award. Postsecondary teachers of science and engineering went from 23 to 36 percent of the total.
- The proportions working as scientists or engineers, on the other hand, decreased as years since doctorate increased. Of those with 5 years or less since doctorate 52 percent were scientists and 13 percent were engineers; of those more than 25 years since doctorate 33 percent were scientists and 7 percent were engineers.
Retention and Mobility
In this report, the percentage of employed individuals with degrees in a particular field that were also working as practitioners or postsecondary teachers in that specialty is called the "retention rate" of the field.
- In 1995 the retention rates ranged from highs in computer sciences and psychology, 72 and 71 percent, respectively, to a low of 41 percent for agricultural/environmental sciences doctorates (see Table 11).
Mobility between science and engineering fields was evident among certain groups of doctorates.
- Among both health and agricultural/environmental sciences doctorates, between 16 and 17 percent were employed in biological sciences. Conversely, a high proportion (14 percent) of biological sciences doctorates was employed in health sciences.
- The other fields with notable proportions working in another science/engineering specialty were mathematical sciences where 13 percent worked as computer scientists and physics/astronomy where 12 percent worked as engineers.
Primary Work Activity
As distinguished from occupation, primary work activity was defined as the activity on which the most hours were spent during a typical week on the job. In 1995, 22 percent of science and engineering doctorates listed teaching as their primary work activity. Applied research was listed by 20 percent and basic research by 14 percent. These activities were followed in frequency by professional services and managing/ supervising, each at 12 percent, and development/design at 7 percent (see Table 12).
- Mathematical sciences and social sciences had the highest proportions of doctorates with teaching as their primary work activity (44 and 42 percent, respectively). These were also the fields with the highest proportions employed in educational institutions.
- Doctorates in biological sciences and earth/atmospheric/marine sciences were most likely to be engaged in applied or basic research (51 and 48 percent, respectively). Psychology Ph.D.s were least likely to be engaged primarily in research (15 percent).
- Managing/supervising as a primary work activity ranged from a high of 15 percent for health science and engineering doctorates to a low of 7 percent for computer sciences doctorates.
- As expected, some activities were concentrated in certain fields: 48 percent of psychology doctorates were primarily engaged in professional services; computer applications was the primary activity for 24 percent of computer sciences Ph.D.s; and 20 percent of engineers were primarily doing development/design.
- The proportion reporting applied research as the primary work activity declined as years since the doctorate increased, from 26 percent for recent Ph.D.s (those with 5 years or less since the doctorate) to 16 percent for those more than 15 years since doctorate award (see Table 13).
- On the other hand, the proportion primarily teaching grew as time since the Ph.D. increased, from 19 percent for recent Ph.D.s to 29 percent for those with more than 25 years since the degree
- The proportion primarily engaged in managing/supervising also increased, from 4 percent of recent Ph.D.s to between 16 and 17 percent of those with more than 15 years since the degree.
In 1995 the median salary for science and engineering Ph.D.s was $60,200. (Median annual salaries were computed for full-time employed individuals, including postdoctoral appointees.)
- By field, engineering doctorates had the highest median salaries, at $70,000, followed closely by chemistry and physics/astronomy doctorates (both $68,000). By gender, doctorates from these three fields also earned the highest median salaries, between $69,000 and $70,000 for men and between $57,000 and $58,800 for women. However, while men with doctorates in health sciences were among the top earners ($69,000), women from this field were not ($52,000) (see Table 14).
- Those working in the private for-profit sector had the highest median annual salaries, $75,000. The median annual salary for those working in educational institutions was $52,000. Within that sector, the salaries ranged from $45,000 for those in 2-year colleges to $56,000 for those working in university-affiliated research institutes (see Table 15).
- By sector, median salary differences between men and women ranged from $3,000 in elementary/secondary schools to $16,200 in university-affiliated research institutes.
Government Support Status
In 1995, 28 percent of employed science and engineering doctorates received support from the federal government in the form of contracts or grants (see Table 16).
- Doctorates in physics/astronomy were most likely to receive government support, 47 percent, while doctorates in social sciences and psychology were least likely (18 and 16 percent, respectively).
- The agencies most frequently cited as the sources of support were the National Institutes of Health (30 percent), the Department of Defense (22 percent), and the National Science Foundation (20 percent) (see Table 17).
- By sector, the proportion receiving support was highest in private not-for-profit organizations, 44 percent, followed by educational institutions, 40 percent (see Table 18).
Relationship of Principal Job to Doctoral Degree
Science and engineering doctorates were asked about the relationship between their principal job and their doctoral field as one measure of the link between education and careers. Overall, 68 percent of science and engineering doctorates indicated that their jobs were closely related to their doctoral degrees, 24 percent said their jobs were somewhat related, and 8 percent said their jobs were not related to their degrees (see Table 19).
- Doctorates in computer sciences, psychology, and health sciences had the highest proportions reporting that their job was closely related to their doctoral education (between 79 and 81 percent).
- Doctorates in physics/astronomy most frequently reported that their jobs and education were not related (15 percent), followed by doctorates in chemistry, 11 percent.
- Of those science and engineering doctorates whose jobs were not related to their doctoral degrees, 29 percent said the most important reason for working outside their field was a change in career or professional interests. For 27 percent, "job in doctoral degree field not available" was the most important reason for working out of field, and 22 percent cited pay or promotion opportunities as the most important reason (see Table 20).
Focus on Academe
The following is a more detailed look at the 44 percent of employed science and engineering doctorates who were working in academe in 1995, excluding those on postdoctoral appointments. (Academe includes 2-year and 4-year colleges, universities, medical schools, university-affiliated research institutes, and "other" educational institutions. It does not include elementary, middle, or secondary schools.) This section examines the rank and tenure status of scientists and engineers, how quickly they moved through the ranks, and whether this progress differed by field or gender.
In 1995, 38 percent of science and engineering Ph.D.s employed in academe were full professors, 24 percent were associate professors, 20 percent were assistant professors, and 3 percent were instructors or lecturers. The remaining doctorates employed in academe were adjunct faculty members (2 percent), held some other position (2 percent), or responded that rank was not applicable to their position or at their institution (12 percent) (see Table 21).
- The highest proportion of full professors was in mathematical sciences (46 percent); the lowest was in computer sciences (10 percent). Since 95 percent of the computer sciences doctorates graduated within the past 15 years, it is not surprising that the proportion of full professors in this field was low.
- Concentrations of associate and assistant professors were highest in computer sciences (82 percent) and health sciences (62 percent) and lowest in physics/astronomy (29 percent).
- Doctorates in physics/astronomy and earth/atmospheric/marine sciences said rank was not applicable more frequently than doctorates in any other field (25 percent and 20 percent, respectively). This might be explained by the fact that higher than average proportions of Ph.D.s in these two fields were working in university-affiliated research institutions.
- Of those with 5 years or less since the Ph.D., only 2 percent were full professors and 61 percent were assistant professors. Between 6 and 15 years since the doctorate, 14 percent were full professors and 41 percent had become associate professors. After 16 to 25 years, 59 percent were full professors and after 25 years more than three-quarters (76 percent) had attained that rank (see Table 22).
- Women, however, did not achieve the rank of full professor in the same proportions as men. At 5 years or less since the doctorate, women actually had a slight edge in the full professor category (2 percent, compared with 1 percent for men). For the cohort 6 to 15 years since degree, the proportion of men who were full professors was nearly twice that of women (16 and 9 percent, respectively). The gap widened with time and after 25 years, only 55 percent of women were full professors compared with 78 percent of men. It should be noted that these comparisons are made by years since doctorate, rather than years in the work force. Women are likely to have more career interruptions than men, which could account for some of the observed disparities.
In 1995, 56 percent of science and engineering doctorates employed in academe were tenured, 18 percent were on a tenure track, and 9 percent were not on a tenure track. Of the rest, 5 percent were at institutions without a tenure system and 13 percent were in positions to which tenure did not apply (see Table 23). As in the previous section on faculty rank, those on postdoctoral appointments were excluded from the analysis in this section.
- Mathematical sciences had the highest proportion with tenure, 72 percent, and the proportions for both agricultural/environmental sciences and social sciences were higher than average, 63 percent for each.
- While doctorates in computer sciences had the lowest proportion with tenure (42 percent), a much higher than average proportion of these doctorates were on tenure track, 45 percent compared to 18 percent overall. These figures reflect the relative youth of the doctorates in this field.
- Achievement of tenure is directly correlated with years since doctorate. At 5 years or less since the Ph.D., only 6 percent had tenure. At 6 to 15 years since the doctorate, 47 percent had tenure. By the time 16 to 25 years had passed, 77 percent had tenure, and this proportion increased to 82 percent for those with more than 25 years since the doctorate (see Table 24).
- Women with 5 years or less since the doctorate held tenure in higher proportions than men from the same cohort, 8 percent compared with 5 percent. After 5 years, however, the proportion of men with tenure was between 13 and 14 percent higher than for women in each cohort. As with faculty rank differences between men and women by cohort, the tenure rate differences may be partially explained by the tendency of women to have more gaps in their careers.
 See Appendix E for the occupation codes and broad groupings.
 Federal employees were instructed to answer "No" to this question and are therefore excluded from the proportions shown receiving support.
 Those doctorates holding postdoctoral appointments in April 1995 in the academic sector, as well as those on postdoctoral appointments in other sectors, are examined in more detail in Chapter 4.