Industry vs acadamia with just a bachelors (genetics)

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

Industry vs acadamia with just a bachelors (genetics)

Postby ESO » Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:11 pm

Hello I have my BS in genetics. I am trying to decide between trying to get a job in industry, or possibly getting a job at a University. I live in Madison Wisconsin, so UW Madison, the college I went to, is in town. They do a lot of biology research. I do in some ways think a job at a university doing research sounds more appealing to me. I guess I just like the idea of doing research to learn something new as opposed to just finding a way to make some new product. However, I am wondering if, as I only have a BS, working in industry might be a better choice in the long run as I was told by someone that there are more opportunities for advancement in industry.

The person who told me, says that if I get a job in industry, I can keep advancing and maybe get to do my own research etc, whereas if I work in the university, the only way I'd be doing my own research (or, even have much of a supervisory position) is basically if I have a PHD, so with just a BS I'd be stuck doing sort of basic stuff for the researcher. I should add that this person is not at all sure about what she told me either, so I'm wondering if others find this to be an accurate assessment. Do I have more chances for advancement with only a BS in industry? Do I have chances at all for doing something more than benchwork for someone else working for the University?

Clearly I also have the option of going for my Masters or PHD, but I'm moostly wondering about my choices if I choose not to go that path.

Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:00 pm

Re: Industry vs acadamia with just a bachelors (genetics)

Postby A.A.T. » Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:27 pm


To answer your questions:

Do I have chances at all for doing something more than benchwork for someone else working for the University?

Yes, but only if you define "something more than benchwork" as "something else than benchwork". Perhaps you could work in tech transfer, or administration, or be a lab manager. But with a BS, if you stay in the lab your title will always be a tech, with the corresponding salary and level of respect, even if you find a PI who is willing to let you do some independent research on your own.

Do I have more chances for advancement with only a BS in industry?

Yes or no, depending on the company. Some are very big sticklers for degrees while others only care about your experiences and accomplishments.

Given that you are saying things like, "I guess I just like the idea of doing research to learn something new" and "working in industry might be a better choice in the long run as... there are more opportunities for advancement," it seems to me that you are someone who not only wants to do research but also has the ambition to ascend to a technical leadership role. If this is the case, then you will most probably need a PhD eventually, even if not immediately. Of course there are the usual caveats about the difficulty of the job market for life scientists, so I would add that A) you be absolutely certain that this is what you want to do and B) a few years in a BS level industry job might actually be a good thing-- even if the company won't promote you without a graduate degree, you can go back to grad school, get your degree, and then let your industry experience stand you out from the other job applicants.

Anyway that's my two cents, if anyone has any alternative perspective feel free to share.
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:44 pm

Re: Industry vs acadamia with just a bachelors (genetics)

Postby Caroline Ritchie » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:03 am


If you are not sure whether you would prefer working in an academic lab or an industry lab, I recommend aiming for a position in industry. Even if you decide after a year or two that industry is not for you, the industry experience is incredibly valuable. The opportunity will expose you to many different career options and will open many doors for you in the future. You will also get a sense whether, at that particular company, there are opportunities to move up (or to transition to a different type of role with more advancement potential) without an advanced degree. Do not embark on a PhD program unless you are absolutely certain it is something you want to do and something you need for a fulfilling career. It's a 5+ year full-time commitment. You may find that a BS is enough. Alternatively, you may find that an MS or MBA can help you advance in an industry setting, and some MS/MBA programs can be completed part-time and/or online.

Best of luck!
Caroline M. Ritchie, PhD
Caroline Ritchie
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:07 am
Location: Boston

Re: Industry vs acadamia with just a bachelors (genetics)

Postby Ana » Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:04 pm


Like AAT and Caroline have said, I also think that based on what you wrote a few years in a BS level industry job might be a good thing. It will help you get exposed to the different roles and judge if you would then want to start a PhD program.

Doing research in academia with just a BS means being a technician in a lab, and that is very flat. Inn industry technicians have their own career ladder and growing responsibilities which you might find more interesting.

What this person told you makes much sense from my experience - and I've done both academia and industry.

User avatar
Posts: 655
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Industry vs acadamia with just a bachelors (genetics)

Postby I.K.K. » Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:00 pm


It would be useful to know what branch of genetics you're most interested in e.g. plant genetics, human genetic disease etc.

Molecular Diagnostics is a great place right now for someone at Bachelor's level to cut their teeth in industry and learn a lot about the clinical application of genetics before deciding on a career path. Industry just isn't about product development !

Many people that come through my company with a BS go on to higher education. It's a difficult industry to advance in if you don't have an M.S or Ph.D. However, it can provide very valuable experience and help you decide if industry is right for you, or not.
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:33 pm

Industry is better

Postby Forachio » Sat Feb 04, 2017 11:08 am

As I have worked both in academia and industry, I would say that in general the work ambiance in industry is healthier and work ethic is certainly higher. Of course this depend very much on personal experience and luck, on the place and country, but with all due respect academia is getting more and more corrupt, and scientists are more and more spoiled by uncontrolled spending of public money, as a consequence, they stick to corresponding behaviour, with quite peculiar features.
[Here was an example characterized by moderators as a «gripe link», academia fears of spreading gen like that, whereas industry does not care, on the other hand companies usually care about their reputation long before the situation described in this case is happening. You can google on your own "scientific misconduct" or "scientific fraud" and see a lot of examples]

For industry it's not really common, as a sense of responsibility of the tops is obviously higher, though for academia the cases like this are certainly much more frequent.

Besides, you should think about your chances to get a permanent position. In academia they are minimal.
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:08 pm

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 16 guests