Why, on average, do scientists not get paid much?
My girlfriend recently graduated from college with a degree in chemsitry. She is now working as a chemist for the local water authority making $25k a year. There are plenty of jobs that don't require ANY college degree where you make more than $25k a year. Chemistry is one of the harder degrees to get in college. (Chemistry, physics, engineering, math, biochem, I guess architecture, chemical engineering). Now I am not saying it takes a genius to get a science degree, but it takes a lot more work. You need to study and practice calculus, linear algebra, Pchem, orgo, etc. Whereas communication majors, business majors, and pretty much all non-STEM majors can pass a lot of their classes with just using common sense. I was a business major (econ) and I did not have to study much. I worked 35 hours a week and partied a lot, and was able to get decent grades without much effort. My girlfriend had to put in 40-60 hours a week to obtain the same grades I did. It's not as though she is not good at her field (she even came up with a new ligand, and got an A in quantum mechanics), but it requires a lot more studying and work to master.
So it seems odd to me that a field which requires a ton of work to get a grasp of pays her so little. She knows a lot about organic chem, inorganic chem, bio chem, pchem, lasers, waves, optics, string theory, all different types of math, astro physics, thermodynamics, even knows a fair bit about history and english. She says she wish she studied business like I did, because she is so poor. I say the opposite....she seems to know everything about everything, and I know nothing. SHe says knowledge does not really mean anything if you are broke. she wants to leave science and become an administrative assistant. She has a friend who was a communication major making $60,000 to book flights and hotels for a company. She has another friend who did not go to college making a ton of money traveling all over for a fashion company. Hell, her brother is a doorman at a hotel, and makes more than her.
What is the reason?
I have a few theories:
1) Science is more static than other fields. Now I know it is changing every day, don't get me wrong. But once you know a reaction or a concept, it will likely be the same throughout your whole career, where as the stock market changes every day, and interactions with people changes from person to person. Laws and trends also change every day.
2) People pay you, and you need to get money from other people to have it for yourself, so you need to be good with people. Simple enough. The only way to get money is to get it from other people. So people skills are more important than analytical skills, because all the intelligence in the world will get you know money if nobody wants to deal with you.
3) You don't need to know science to do a lot of science related jobs. Once the research has been done in a field, you can get a lot of people to do the work who don't understand the ideas. For instance, you can give somebody with no education an instrument and ask him to measure a ph level. He can do this without knowing what a pH level is, just by readint the instrument.
Any other theories?