I have been offered a postdoc position at Cambridge University. That's great, because two years ago I wanted to go back to academia and went to see my PhD supervisor (I finished my PhD in engineering in 2007) to ask if he might have or know of a postdoc position I'd be suitable for. The answer was no, so a few months later I got a job as a structural engineer in Tokyo and wrote the whole thing off.
Last year I quit the Tokyo gig and moved back to Europe, because I couldn't keep up with the working hours in Japan anymore. I was looking for a job again, when out of the blue, my PhD supervisor contacted me, saying that he now had a postdoc position. I applied, and I got an offer, although I don't know yet how much I will be paid.
Of course, as things always seem to go, I also got an offer to work as a programmer for an airline company, right here where I live. The pay is similar, and the training will be very good.
In my heart of hearts I would like to take the Postdoc, but I am very worried about what will happen after the three years are over.
I am 35, nearly 36 now, have worked as a structural engineer and programmer in the past. I have a family (two small kids) and need to be able to look after them all. Fortunately I have enough savings to be able to take a (small) hit on the salary whilst doing my postdoc, but... what I don't want is ending up doing the postdoc, and then being stuck.
The plan was to do the postdoc, then get a lecturing position. But I have read many articles lamenting how difficult it is for the majority of postdocs to find a long-term position. I could have done that in my twenties, maybe, but approaching forty that is pretty scary. From a material point of view, I am already significantly behind my peers who went to work straight after they finished their masters degree and don't really want to fall so far behind that I'll never catch up.
My question is, how true are the reports of PostDocs being forced to move from PostDoc to PostDoc (especially in the UK)? Does anybody know of somebody who did something similar to what I am planning to do (and did it successfully)?