Engineers and Doctors in India are lousy professions

I was asked to help my sister who is preparing for competitive exams on what profession should she choose. While ideally you should be doing something that you enjoy so that you can gain specific knowledge, which can't be replaced; the crude reality is that most people in India are clueless and seek to join a field where they have good chance to make ₹₹₹. Somehow this translates into engineering and medical fields being highly prized. I am going to make a contra case on why you should re-consider joining these fields(unless you are genuinely interested in them).

I am going to talk about four key things:

  • Commodity professions
  • Supply and Demand
  • Time value of money
  • Changing trends

And then I am going to talk about what is happening in the job market and why.

Commodity professions

Anything where you can be easily replaced will make you very susceptible to laws of supply and demand. The education system pumps out so many doctors and engineers. The only way to escape this is specialisation. Specialisation entails domain specific knowledge or knowledge in a bunch of fields that makes sure you can't easily be replaced and you aren't getting this with your bachelors degree for sure.

Supply and Demand

The major issue is that consensus has ensured that there are too many people trying to get into the same colleges and too many people trying to get jobs. You have to be extremely good/specialised to succeed as you are competing with the best people in the society.

So many jobs like architect, accounting, finance, law, plumbing, electrician etc. are just discarded when there is potential to make much more money much more easily in them.

Time value of money

I have heard about cases of people spending ₹30-50 lakhs on graduate degrees. That may be insane, but even more is the fact that most people take 6-7 years to get into the job market. There's a huge cost to being late and spending so much money on education.

Automation has already replaced a lot of engineers and the same will happen in medical field.

Read this:

More difficult to automate away jobs in other fields. The other incentive is that automation is developed for non-Indian markets for these fields as salaries in non-Indian markets is higher and can just be imported in.

So what's happening in the job market

  • Best job in my engineering college(tier 3 state college) - 5.5 LPA, good candidates got 2-3 LPA. Most are making 10-15K/month. With experience most can hope to reach 10 LPA in 3-5 years.
  • Employment in best medical college in my state - 60-80k with/without PG. It's worse in private jobs.

I am talking about the average here. Those who are genuinely interested in these fields and have good domain specific knowledge will make more. Also engineering here refers to IT related jobs. There are very few jobs in other fields.

Does it make sense to spend so much time/money/energy when the results are so bad? Here's how they compare to other jobs.

Want to be an MBA? Why not electrician?
Would you like to be a low-paid MBA or a better-paid electrician? India’s answer is clear, and that’s a problem.

The demand(and hence payout) from vocational and other jobs will only get better as supply-demand mismatch keeps increasing. If you are planning to do an engineering or a medical degree without genuine interest you should reconsider.