Jobs after the PhD - research assistant?


Hi everyone.
Typically, research assistants are graduates who may well go on to do a PhD. I have undergraduate, masters and PhD degrees. I've seen a job as a research assistant in my field and am thinking of applying to it. Does anyone think it's weird for someone like me to apply for a research assistant job aimed at people without PhDs?

Having been a PhD student I obviously have quite a bit of research experience. Quite unusually, though, I lack experience with some of the most commonly used research methods in my field. Even though I have a PhD, I don't meet the requirements for many research associate/post doc positions in my field because of my blatant lack of experience with such methods. I've been on training courses for these methods at other universities, but never got to actually implement them in my research because the equipment and expertise simply weren't available at my university.

So maybe a research assistant job is the way to go to get experience with the important skills I didn't get to use as a PhD student? Then maybe eventually I could move on to a post doc? What does anyone else think?


Hi Journey,

I'm in my last two months of a PhD and have taken on a new job as a research officer (akin to an RA). I've seen numerous RA/RO jobs actually requiring a Phd (mine didn't though).
I personally didn't have a problem taking the job, as the experience and security was better than no job at all! So I think it's a great way to hone and develop your research skills post PhD. While perhaps not idea, it certainly won't be a waste of time (or weird!)

Good luck



======= Date Modified 30 Nov 2012 10:41:40 =======
Depends on the university or advertising organisation

For part of my final extension year of my PhD, I worked as a Research Assistant/Associate at a top 5 uni.

However, recently, I was rejected from several research assistant posts (grade 6b posts) at UCL because of my PhD (following from feedback from people advertising for posts). Other research assistant posts however, place PhD as a desirable or essential criteria, so it all depends!

Over the last month, I've had job interviews for both Research Assistant and Research Associate posts. Unsuccessful for both posts, but good interview experience I guess!

I'm applying for a Research Assistant post at the moment which specifies a PhD as desirable. Fingers crossed as this position is similar to my PhD thesis topic! (up)


Thanks for your replies. Guess it's not that strange then! Just as long I make it clear to the selection panel that I am aware I am applying to a research assistant job and am very willing to do it! I was also a research assistant in the last couple of months of my PhD for something completely unrelated to my PhD and something a monkey could do! This job I've seen looks a lot better and think it will provide useful research experience, so think I'll go for it!


dude, i think u could get the experience u need by being a research consultant. the remuneration of being an RA does not do u justice. still, if u don't mind the sacrifice, go for it. :)

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

A lot of ResearchAssistant and especially Research Assistant posts contain the phrase "the successful candidate will hold a PhD (or expect to be awarded a PhD) or equivalent experience."

Translated, many such posts will be awarded to people in their fourth year who've overran during write-up, providing them with a source of income while they finish. The department benefits as they hold onto the PhD candidate with the set of skills that candidate has for another couple of years stretching to beyond the completion of the PhD. They also keep hold of the candidate on the cheap as the candidate's main concern will be maintaining any source of imcome whilst they complete. That candidate will also have to accept a lower wage as they do not yet have a PhD when they start the Research Assistant or Research Associate post.

I fell into this bracket and with the alternative being either unemployment benefot or no income at all, I was willing to take a low income Research Assistant post that eventually developed into my first post-doc.

I'm pretty sure Newcastle Uni. do this, with people coming through still writing up or awaiting viva given preference over external candidate unless there is no such person coming through. Only then does an external candidate normally get a decent chance.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)