Not every student undertaking a postgraduate research degree will want to pursue a career in academia; for some, this will be apparent from the very start, while for others it may be a dawning realisation as they progress through the degree. In any case, many things can change in the course of the three plus years it takes to complete a research degree. Overall, it’s important to maintain a sense of self-awareness throughout the course of your PhD; assessing and reassessing your personal and professional aspirations and motivations will help you to make the right career choice for you.
Research degrees are highly regarded by employers working in a wide range of sectors; specialised industries are particularly aware of the unique skillset that a doctoral graduate can bring to their organisation. Some positions may not require you to hold a PhD or other research degree; but the skills you have attained throughout the duration of your research degree – such as presentation, public speaking, teaching, time management and organisational skills – will work to your advantage.
Within the non-academic route, there are two options for research students: to continue to work in a research capacity outside the higher education sector or to pursue a non-research career. Click here for a discussion of the types of opportunities available in research careers and careers outside of research.
PhD graduates pursue successful careers in a range of areas outside of academia. Popular destinations which directly relate to the research, communication, project management and analytical skills developed through the PhD include:
You may wish to consider:
- A research career outside academia;
- Pursuing a career related to your discipline;
- Applying the transferable skills developed during the PhD to the same broad range of careers open to all graduates;
- Self-employment, entrepreneurship or freelance careers;
- Developing a ‘portfolio career’ by combining several of these aspects.
Look out for monthly PGR Careers Options emails providing more detail on relevant opportunities.
- A detailed breakdown of research graduate employment trends can be found here.
- To view the career profiles of PhD graduates who have gone on to work in a wide range of areas see https://www.vitae.ac.uk/researcher-careers/researcher-career-stories.
- Further information on career options outside of academia is available here.