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I'm 43 years old, Mexican, chemist (bachelor diploma in 2002) and hold a master's diploma in electrochemistry (2006, conducting polymers) and a doctor in science diploma (2010, exfoliation of carbon nanotubes, anionic polymerisation). Spent 3 years in postdocs, two in Brazil, one in the US, and 3.5 years in a research institute in Mexico, trying to get funding, I quitted last year. 8 publications so far, two of them with over 400 and 770 citations, and a small family. Fluent in English, Portuguese, and understand some French. Having a difficult time with German, but willing to become fluent.

I cannot get an industry science job either in Mexico, or abroad since my diplomas are from mexican institutions (not any job, indeed). I'm broke, and I really want to leave this country since there are no opportunities for me here and I want better chances for my family in the future.

I think I should get a PhD or apply to a postdoc from Germany or France, with a strong liaison to industry, to get hired there. I cannot apply for a mexican fellowship, and most fellowships are around 3000 Euro maximum.

I now understand why some Japanese commit suicide, they find no exit. I find myself in a very similar situation. I'm a scientist; therefore, I cannot and will not take ANY job, but a science & engineering job.

I would gladly appreciate any suggestions on funding resources (except suicide, of course).

Cheers!

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    I'm sorry, but you have to adjust your expectations. Postdocs in Germany are around 2400 euro after tax. – henning -- reinstate Monica Jan 3 at 19:59
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    Since the answer to your question appears is mostly negative, it would be interesting to know how you came up with the 5k-6k net income estimate - there may be some misunderstanding about the cost of living in Europe or the US. – DCTLib Jan 3 at 21:33
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    What makes you think that having Mexican degrees would prevent you from getting jobs abroad? – Dr. Snoopy Jan 4 at 14:47
  • Why not China or Taiwan? – SSimon Jan 5 at 3:10
  • Why is this downvoted so.much? – user111388 Feb 22 at 8:56
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I can speak for Europe. You can forget to earn 5000 euro for a PhD or a PostDoc. If you dont find a job you must adapt yourself. There are many people that do not find a researcher or engineer job after one PhD and many PostDocs. It is not good to pursue another PhD, it is legally possible, but in practice nobody will hire a person for a PhD with already another PhD. I would suggest to look to the thousands opportunities in Europe for people coming from Mexico and the so-called "poor" countries. Almost every university has this opportunity, coming from european union or from the university itself. In Europe a Full Professor earns around 4000-6000 net (depending by the country) at the end of his career.

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    @ElizabethHenning, taxes in Europe are quite high. Maybe half of the salary. It is how they finance their social systems. – Buffy Jan 3 at 20:16
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    Same in the US....$6000/month net is almost $100K/year gross. That's above the starting salary for asst. professors and entry-level PhD holders in industry (in most disciplines / locations). I think the right question to ask (though probably not in this forum) is how to find a long-term industry job given OP's qualifications. – cag51 Jan 3 at 20:20
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    @ElizabethHenning net= after taxes – Gab Jan 3 at 20:38
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    @ElizabethHenning what are 401 contributions, I know health and taxes... – Solar Mike Jan 3 at 23:00
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    @SolarMike Tax-advantaged retirement savings offered as a "benefit." Most US jobs, especially white-collar ones, no longer come with pensions, and Social Security isn't anywhere near enough to live on. – Elizabeth Henning Jan 3 at 23:03
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I now understand why some Japanese commit suicide, they find no exit. I find myself in a very similar situation. I'm a scientist; therefore, I cannot and will not take ANY job, but a science & engineering job.

As a scientist, you should be able to realize easily that your financial expectations are completely irrational. In France, only the top 3% wealthiest people earn more than 6000€ salary before taxes. Thankfully, the 97% left don't commit suicide!

First, you need to analyze your options objectively and honestly:

  • If you want to maximize your income, then you must go to industry not academia. And if you've been in academia for some time you should know that already.
  • Even in industry, a monthly 5-6k job corresponds to a senior position, you can't reasonably expect that before 10-20 years of very successful experience (and probably a bit of luck).

The fact that you mention being broke and at the same time require such a high salary points to other issues: when broke, a rational person will take whatever job they can have because any amount of salary is better than zero income. The fact that you mention suicide and apparently see "no exit" even though you clearly have a pretty good professional profile reinforces this impression. To be clear, it looks to me that your first concern should be your mental health, because you need to get out of this negative state of mind in order to see that your options are not so bleak, far from it. I'd suggest you talk to some relatives and/or friends that you trust, and listen to their advice: I'm sure they will see many solutions where you think there are none.

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Considering an absolute salary range without considering the location can lead to erroneous expectations. That salary range can be the bare minimum to survive in, say, Zurich, Switzerland, but would give you a fairly wealthy life in, for instance, Italy, Spain or Poland.

Speaking with my European colleagues, the PhD salary range across most European countries is between 400 €/month to 2500 €/month, net. In my country, Italy, it is typically between 1 k€/month to 1.5 k€/month, net, depending on the university. A postdoc position is typically between 1.5 k€/month to 2 k€/month, net, which, in the higher range, it's not that bad, considering the cost of living here, but if you have a family with children you certainly need a second income from your spouse.

To give you an example of the type of salary you're asking for, at the academic level in Italy, a full professor who has been in such a position for 40 years (an unattainable condition nowadays), that is, at the edge of retirement, would earn here 145 k€/year, gross. Considering the taxes, they would probably earn around (6-7) k€/month, net, which is a fairly wealthy salary. So, this is what you're aiming for.

Please, readjust your expectations to avoid disappointment, and compare the salary range in the job offers with the local cost of living.

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  • I am from Italy too. I knew that PhDs are paid 1k net without retirement, I've seen many offers as postdocs paid around 1.2k net, associate prof around 2k in entry level. That's the reason why I left Italy and I went to France. – Gab Jan 4 at 18:02
  • @Gab That's the minimum guaranteed by the ministry. At my university, Politecnico di Torino, PhD students are paid 1.4 k€ net (with contribution for retirement), and there are plans to increase the scholarship in the future. Afaik, similar amounts are given by Politecnico di Milano. In my group, we pay postdocs around (1.7-1.8) k€ net. An entry level associate professor is around 2.5 k€. So the situation for certain universities in STEM is not that bad. In the humanities things can be worse. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 4 at 18:23
  • Thank you. I’ll look at your Univ – Gab Jan 4 at 18:42
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US institutions generally publish their standard PhD student stipend. Here is MIT, which is likely at the top of the scale. You can see that it is around USD 3300 per month, and in accordance with usual US conventions, this is gross pay, before taxes (someone at this income level would pay very roughly around 10% of their income in federal, state and payroll taxes combined) or deductions for the student's share of benefits (e.g. health insurance). I do not think there is any way you will find PhD funding in the US that pays anywhere near USD 5000 per month net.

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