I got a BA Chem in '76, grad school 4 yrs with maxed out GTA duties while fellow colleagues had a full GRA, no degree, what a load of crap. After a brutal series of min. wage jobs I joined the military before I was 30 and too old. After that more min. wage jobs then somehow I got picked up with the DOD as a civilian chemist. The "elders" seemed to relax then as tasks got done and they consumed more coffee. Then formal QC came along and instead of a dedicated task force to manage it, well it was as they do so well to cut corners and do roundabout and backdoor schemes to not really commit resources that were mandated, they made it a "collateral duty" on top of the full daily work load, thinking that it would be "adequate". Then came the audits. Now you had documented fools. What a sham it looked like. 20 yrs later they still believe the collateral duty approach is correct, self-policing if you will (refer to Boeing for example). ha-ha. As far as a career as a degreed chemist goes, being a plumber pays nearly twice as much, maybe not as steady though. Certainly not for those who wish to pay off student loans in early adulthood or buy a home or start a family, those would be poor decisions. You may get about $40/hr near retirement while your dentist gets $400/hr. with a horse farm to care for too. Think about that.