Researching salary trends can give you a better understanding of the right number to shoot for when you are accepting a new job, as well as what increases you might expect as you’re advancing in your career. There are a handful of websites that can help you do your homework on your respective field. Many of these are free for job-seekers, including Salary.com, PayScale, CareerOneStop, Indeed, and Glassdoor. PayScale is a great resource for compensation information based on career field, industry and geographic location. Both hiring managers and job seekers can use it to better align their offers and expectations with others in the industry. Today, I’ve decided to dive into the salary data for research scientists in biotechnology and explore what it reveals about the current state of employment in this field.
The data is based on a survey of 2,349 scientists working in the field. While that sample size is not huge, it is large enough to be significant and revealing.
The median salary of the respondents was $83,341, with the lowest reported salary coming in at $52,000 and the highest at $114,000. Many of these scientists also received some sort of bonus, profit sharing, or commission, however, these did not have a huge impact on total compensation.
PayScale estimates that Cambridge, MA and San Francisco, CA are the highest paying cities in the United States. They offer average salaries 18% (Cambridge) and 21% (SF) higher than the national average.
The Payscale data also revealed some interesting and unexpected insights about the career trajectory for research scientists in the biotech industry.
For instance, the average salary for entry-level professionals with less than five years of experience was $80,000 (just slightly less than the national median) but for late career professionals with 20+ years of experience it rose to only $94,000. The number of respondents from each of the two groups also reveals a significant disparity. The data would suggest that most of these professionals move into other positions with different titles, and that companies aren’t always willing to pay a premium salary in exchange for years of experience.
That seems to also be the case when we look at salary data for related professions. Research scientists from inside and outside of biotechnology, and in both entry-level and senior-level positions, all have a similar salary range. It’s only when these professionals make the leap to director that salaries really climb to the next level.
Following the most common career path is also revealing. We already pointed out that few professionals remain in this role for more than a decade. A significant majority move into some kind of project management position, essentially trading in research for leadership responsibilities.
Based on this data, it would appear that research scientists in the biotech industry face a similar dilemma as many scientists in the broader field of science: Turning the skills that brought you into the field into the skills that will earn you more money and responsibility as your career progresses.
To make that difficult evolution takes careful and proactive career planning. If you are looking for your first job, a new job, or a promotion, there are resources that can help you accomplish your goals faster. Contact our team at Sci.bio Recruiting and learn how to take control of your future.
What you do is a lot more important than what’s on your resume. Problem-solving is an analytical skill that many hiring managers look for when reviewing candidates, so questions about how you solve problems should be anticipated in technical interviews. Demonstrating analytical thinking or the ability to break down large, complex problems, and then effectively communicating the solutions is often just as valuable, if not more so, than the baseline technical skills required for a job. In this blog post, I’ll explore methods for how to improve your problem-solving skills.
Follow the IDEAL Problem-Solving Method – Tips and Techniques
If you have a problem in which there isn’t a single best answer, you may use heuristic methods to arrive at a solution. A popular and quick to remember heuristic problem-solving method is IDEAL:
- Identify the problem and gather information.
- Define the context of the problem.
- Explore possible solutions.
- Act on the best solution.
- Look back and reflect
Identify the problem and gather information
The first step in the creative problem solving process is to gather information about the problem. In order to effectively solve the problem, you need to know as much about the problem as possible. Be curious, ask questions, gather as many facts as possible, and begin to make logical deductions rather than assumptions. Ask questions about the problem. What do you know about the problem and what are your known unknowns? Can you diagram the process into separate steps or break it down into smaller chunks?
Define the context of the problem
There are multiple strategies that may be used to identify the root cause of a problem. A root cause analysis (RCA) is a problem-solving method that assists us with answering the question of why a problem occurred. The RCA uses a specific set of steps, with associated tools like the “5 Why Analysis” or the “Cause and Effect Diagram”, in order to determine your problem and its origin, why it occurred in the first place, and then you may resolve the problem so it won’t happen again. However, it’s important to note that RCA assumes a singular root cause of problems, which might not be the best way to think about problem solving because problems tend to be multicausal.
Explore possible solutions
Once the underlying cause is identified and the scope of the issue is defined, the next step is to explore possible solutions to resolve our problem. It’s important to generate as many solutions as possible before we analyze the solutions or try to implement them.
There are many different methods for generating solutions, and when we have many different solutions in hand, we need to analyze these solutions to determine the effectiveness of each. One thing I like to consider when weighing multiple possible solutions is a cost/benefit analysis for solving the problem at hand, but also solving other problems that might not even be directly related to the main problem you’re solving. If it takes 20% more effort but solves a bunch of other issues that happen, it’s worth doing but that isn’t always considered if your sole focus is on the original problem.
One tool that can be useful for generating possible solutions is brainstorming. The ultimate goal is to generate as many ideas and questions as you can, in a fixed amount of time. Although brainstorming is best done with a group, this can be practiced individually. Employers will often assess a candidate’s potential fit on a team through collaborative problem-solving challenges, as this is an important component of culture fit.
Act on the best solution.
In the previous step, you should have eliminated many of the possible solutions. With a short list of possible solutions you can do a final analysis to come up with the most optimal solution(s) to your problem, and then you can move forward with ideas for implementing your solution.
Look back and reflect
In problem solving it is always beneficial to look back and double check and interpret your solution. Basically, check to see if you used all your available information at hand and that your solution is optimal. Doing this will provide a learning opportunity and will assist you with predicting what strategies to use to solve future problems.
We went through IDEAL- now what?
The best way to become a stronger problem-solver is to challenge your thinking. Use a checklist initially, but then try to step away and see if you can organically make inquisitive thinking a habit of mind. When you run into a colleague and she has a problem and you have five minutes, try delving in and just start by asking questions. Use your intuition to figure out how she is talking about this problem, and perhaps there is a question or two you can ask her about the problem that can help her with rethinking her problem. Taking that approach to problems can often help you move forward in a more creative way than just immediately serving up sub-optimal solutions.
Conversely, if you are not sure how to solve a problem, it is okay to ask for input, especially if you’re in an interview. Problem solving is a process and a learned skill and it’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes. No one knows everything so it’s okay and encouraged to ask for help when you don’t have an immediate answer.
As you’re preparing to ace your next interview, check out our previous blog posts, 7 Tips for Answering Interview Questions, focusing on common interview questions with tips on answering them accordingly.
So, why was GDPR introduced?
Prior to GDPR, laws were written for a world without smartphones that could collect massive amounts of sensitive information for companies such as Google and Facebook. GDPR now provides companies guidelines on how they may utilize personal data, while giving users clarity on how their data is being used.
Legislators in the United States are working on regulation that would be similar while also monitoring GDPR’s effects. No matter where you are located, however, GDPR impacts companies and users everywhere. Although it’s only law in the EU, it’s become a de facto world regulation.
But, what exactly is personal data under GDPR?
GDPR was designed to protect the data of European users, but because the “cloud” is not on one computer and software services have a global reach, GDPR takes into account all EU users even if they work internationally. Any business hosting personal identifiable information (PII) – any data that can identify you such as your name, email address, social security number, picture, phone number, username, location, and internet protocol (IP) address – falls under GDPR’s supervision.
Well, how did the US react?
Similar to the GDPR, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018 – which will go into effect on January 1, 2020 – affecting how personal data is collected, processed, and shared in California.
The CCPA was designed with three major themes: ownership, control, and security.
- Ownership gives users the right to know what personal information is being collected and whether that personal identifiable information is being sold, or disclosed, and to whom.
- Control gives users the right to say no to the sale of personal information and the right for equal service or price; so if you opt out of a sale, you will not be penalized. If the principle of control sounds similar, it’s because the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) put into place rules to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from selling your data without obtaining an opt-in. CCPA reinstates this legislation at the state level, requiring the ISP to ask you before they can sell or market your personal information.
- To uphold security, a business that suffers a breach of their system will be penalized up to $75,000 for each violation for each affected user. Although this isn’t as strict as GDPR, it’s more than just a slap on the wrist.
Even though that CCPA is only in one state right now, it may be the most impactful start to a GDPR-like act in the US.
Ultimately, where are the ethical lines?
When data is used in ways that benefit others while adversely affecting you, ethical problems will arise. Complying with changing privacy regulations is stressful for companies, as well as a drain on resources, but many are embracing it as an opportunity to increase trust and transparency.
As we enter into the age of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and facial recognition, your data profile stems from your social network activity. When it comes to our data, many Americans see this as a black-and-white issue. In fact, an overwhelming 63 percent of Americans believe that social media platforms have far too much power.
But, how can data collection be immoral when it serves as the backbone of so many of these services we use every day? How many helpful job recommendations have been given by software that matches job seekers’ skills and attributes? How many human connections have been built through recommendations on social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn?
Social media, particularly with Facebook and Twitter, has been found to reflect people’s personality and intelligence as well as characteristics such as sexual orientation and political views. So, could it be ethical to mine this data for hiring purposes when users typically used these online applications with a different intent – and therefore, without consent for data analytics to draw conclusions from their social media postings?
Federal legislation was recently passed, via the Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2019, which intends to prevent inaccuracies, bias, and discrimination in automated decisions – particularly in the hiring process. So, as the adage goes, “great power does come with great responsibility”. Data and its collection is not the issue – but rather the improper use of it is.