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· The potential to successfully advance in a career as an academic or industrial scientist. What are the attrition rates between graduate school and tenure?
· The sectors that employ scientists in given fields and subfields, and the average age of scientists in those areas.
· A realistic comparison between careers in science and careers requiring other advanced degrees, such as an M.D., J.D., or MBA.
· The variance in salaries and competition levels among fields and subfields.
· The importance of seeking career information from academics, industrial scientists, and others with nonacademic careers instead of relying only on universities to provide such information.
· Acknowledgement that the employment market for scientists and engineers upon graduation is unpredictable. Many students assume that positions will be available when needed. There are no such guarantees.
· Students would benefit from knowing how a career evolves beyond the 'first job'. Departments could maintain a list of the career paths of their graduates. (Descriptions of career paths could remain anonymous.)
· An overview of the working world in a given field. What are the opportunities, expectations, pressures, and rewards; how do employers view and treat their employees.
· Quality information and discussion forums for young scientists made available on the Internet to balance the advice they receive from senior scientists.
· The counterintuitive concept that earning a PhD is considered by some to "overqualify" a person for many types of positions (e.g., performing technical work that does not require research skills). Sometimes one is more employable with a bachelor's or master's degree than with a PhD.
· Some potential employers, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, do not generally hire permanent employees through normal procedures. One must first win a very prestigious award - the National Research Council post-doctoral fellowship before being considered for permanent employment.
· Most industry employers do not advertise openings for scientists and engineers at the PhD level.
To the question "What are the top 8-10 key variables that students need access to in order to make graduate education decisions?" there was no unanimity of responses. The most common answers were:
· A realistic view and recent history of the job market;