American Employers Are Hung Up on Hiring Ph.D.s

Noah Smith:

Meanwhile, salaries for electrical, mechanical and software engineers are rising as well, if a bit less spectacularly. For those with the skills to “tell computers what to do” (as venture capitalist and inventor Marc Andreessen once put it), capitalism still looks like a good deal. And there’s also the financial industry, which has long offered attractive salary premiums for highly talented people willing to endure the competitive culture and potential moral ambiguity.

But there’s a hidden downside to this high-end labor market. Many of these good jobs require Ph.D.s. A survey by Paysa found in 2017 that about 35 percent of AI jobs required a doctorate. In finance, Ph.D.s are heavily recruited for top quant trading jobs — as a professor at Stony Brook University, I helped advise applied-math doctoral students who were aiming for that industry. Plenty of workers at top tech companies such as Intel have Ph.D.s too. And more Ph.D. economists are going to work for industry. A quick Google search reveals a vast array of tech industry positions that now require this most advanced of degrees.