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PhD Career: What are the Career Option?
Achieving a PhD is rewarding as it opens the door to numerous career opportunities. In addition to it being the highest academic degree, it is expected to teach you life lessons and soft skills, and train you to analyze situations and solve problems.
Therefore, what you do in life after earning a PhD pretty much depends on how you want to utilize your experience and knowledge gained so far.
PhD Career: What are Options?
If you choose to carry out research in your field of interest or in the subject area in which you have expertise, then going on to do post-doctoral research is something many PhD graduates opt for.
A post-doctoral experience gives you an opportunity to work under the supervision of an experienced faculty, but with expectedly more independence than you had during PhD, especially because by the end of PhD, you are more able to guide your own research.
Also, a post-PhD experience is considered a plus in many job opportunities that you might want to pursue thereafter. One of them is that of a professor.
These positions in academic institutes or universities are meant for people who want to continue contributing to their field of interest by doing active research, often while guiding future researchers as their students.
An additional opportunity that you get in these positions is that of teaching. But if you are somebody who wants to just pass on the knowledge to younger generations and not participate in core research, then after PhD, you could look for teaching positions in schools, colleges, and other educational institutes.
On the other hand, if your passion lies in research and you are not so much fond of teaching, then you are best suited for research laboratories and government research agencies.
For instance, many companies (such as in pharma, drug development, aerospace, finance, defense or other manufacturing fields) have their R&D wing dedicated towards innovation and for somebody interested in making social impact of their zeal for research, this is a great place to be in.
PhD Career in Science Journalism
While pursuing PhD, you are trained to develop your reading and writing skills. You improve on your ability to comprehend written material as well as create your own written documents.
These are skills that come handy if you want to chart a career in science journalism or science communication.
Scientific research is aimed to improve living standards of the society, but it is more often than not, difficult to get across the implications of research to the general public.
Scientific experiments, their findings and their applications are mostly too complicated for a naïve audience. If you are a researcher who can translate this ‘language’ of science to simpler terms for a non-expert audience, then you might find your satisfaction in this career path.
After all, communicating research is as important as doing it. Such candidates may also fit into the shoes of journal editors in scientific publishing houses.
Another job wherein writing skills are required is in medical writing. Scientific writers in this sector are expected to understand regulatory guidelines in healthcare and offer editing and writing services to healthcare professionals in preparation of documents for patients, clients and regulatory authorities.
In recent times, some PhD graduates are opting to take up the role of a science illustrator wherein they help communicate research findings graphically by preparing visuals.
Such creative people also design teaching tools to methodically convey science by means of visual illustrations which is a proven way to grab attention of a curious audience, especially the younger generation.
PhD Career in Industry
In industry, many roles gain advantage by hiring PhD graduates. For instance, positions such as product manager, market research analyst, business development manager or competitive intelligence analyst requires thorough understanding of the present scenario of a particular product, its demand in the current society, its comparison with similar existing products and ways to improvise the product.
These are traits which a PhD graduate develops during the time spent as a researcher. Capability to analyze, carry out comparative analyses and come up with innovative solutions are something that a PhD might help with.
Apart from the roles stated above, this skillset is a must-have for anyone aiming to take up consultancy jobs either in firms or in government policy-making bodies.
Changes that can be implemented to attain scientific advancement in a particular field can be suggested based on knowledge of technical know-how as well as existing literature.
PhD graduates being well-versed with these are excellent candidates for these jobs. In fact, we come across people from varied fields of PhD experience in these professions.
The reason is that a PhD degree is important not just for the field in which it was earned but also for the skillset it brings along. This is to say, that no matter whether you have a PhD in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, or an Engineering stream, you are trained to work long hours, be multitasking, analyze complex situations, solve difficult problems, and troubleshoot using different approaches.
Therefore, job vacancies which look for these qualities in a candidate might hire PhD holders from any field.
If you have a PhD in streams like Mathematics, Statistics, Engineering, Physics, or Computer Science, you might be eligible for the position of an analyst, such as quantitative analyst or operations research analyst.
Data analysis, statistical modelling, pattern recognition, and data mining are a few skills required in these career options. Candidates with this background fit well into banking, trading and investment sectors.
With the advent of technology, its utility is being realized in various sectors and thus newer professions are being created to meet the current demand.
Examples of these include healthcare information technology specialist and medical science liaison. A strong background of medical research is required in these jobs.
While the former includes clinical database management and medical coding, the latter requires excellent communication skills and confident knowledge in therapeutic areas.
PhD Career in Entrepreneurship
If you are a PhD graduate who would like to apply your knowledge and creativity to propose an original idea and utilize it to market a product or service as a business option, then entrepreneurship is the way to go.
In recent times, many institutes and companies support start- ups where PhD graduates utilize their experience to initiate something novel and innovative.
After all, novelty in research is what PhD teaches you to achieve and being able to apply this attribute for the society is something to look forward to in case you are motivated and determined enough to steer your own ship.
Tons of PhD Career Out There
When it is time to choose a career path, we often marvel at the vast number of opportunities available and then wonder where we fit best. If you have a long term goal you want to achieve, say a role where you see yourself in future, then you are all set.
Once you finish your PhD, you apply in related job vacancies and take it forward from there. One consideration in this case is whether you need a post-PhD experience.
It is important to remember that not all jobs require a post-doctoral experience, instead you could apply directly after PhD. Some others consider it an advantage and offer you better chances at negotiating your salary and job profile.
If on the other hand, you haven’t yet finalized your career path, but have your PhD degree, then you might want to consider the various options available.
Newer avenues are always on the way, so the list here might not be exhaustive at the time you start your job search. It is essential that you stay updated with job roles of the current time.
The key is to understand where your interest lies. A job is something we rely on for money of course, but it is also something that we spend our day with, and therefore, it needs to be something you are passionate about and enjoy doing.
It is not just about flaunting your Dr. title, it is how you justify your PhD degree. You have spent many long years in the process of earning the title, so you better put it to good use both for yourself and for the society.
In fact, many PhD graduates nowadays participate in social works voluntarily, apart from their regular paying jobs. These can include wildlife, water, or forest conservation, teaching in rural areas, helping with small rural development projects with know-hows, and such others.
All you need to keep in mind is that the world is always on the look-out for talented, enthusiastic individuals, and a PhD degree is most often an advantage (unless you want to sign up for jobs where you are considered over-qualified).
You simply need to have an eye for the career options available and a judgement or self-analysis of your capabilities and preferences. To reiterate, PhD is a wholesome package of technical and transferable skills.
In evaluating your career options, you need to take into consideration both these sets and be decisive of how you can best apply the entire armamentarium of talent that you possess.