PhD or job?? Help


I've recently started a PhD in a relatively obscure research area. I did the same research for my final year dissertation and enjoyed the area so much that i applied for the PhD. the problem is now i'm in a total dilemma because i have been offered a job in the NHS and i really don't know what to do.

Without going into so much detail here a few key points: I have a young child and phd offers flexibility and i sort of think it may open some new exciting doors when i finish. However, I don't particularly see myself in academia plus i understand it is hard to get into research and lecture posts. If i take the job it will still be there in 3 years, with (hopefully) a chance of progression i.e. better money. Whereas i might do the phd and still apply for the same jobs i could do now!

Should i stay with the Phd and see what doors it opens for me in 3 years? or should i take the job and work my way up the career ladder that way. For NHS it is usually experience that is taken into account so after 3 years of a phd i would not be in a better position to get into the hospital. (if i still wanted to do that in 3 years) also with all the cut backs NHS and possibly other jobs will maybe be more difficult to come by in 3 years time.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated


As someone who did a PhD and now works private sector, I would say ... go for the job. As you point out experience is everything. If I had my way again, I'd never do the PhD and would have worked my way up.


thanks Dan, the PhD did not help you to get into your current job then?


Have sent you a PM (just in case you don't get a message letting you know!)

Avatar for sneaks

I would say, unless the PhD directly trains you in something specific needed for the job, then don't do it.


I would go for the job. I am about to finish my PhD and looking for a job in industry. The PhD does not give any help. Experience definitely counts.


Wait and see if doors are open in three years' time? There's a door open now! Many people in this forum have complained that they did a PhD and found no doors open to them after all of that hard work. And your post suggests that you believe the job is more beneficial to your career prospects. Never have I more confidently advised someone that I know so little about: Take the job! If you want, you can do a PhD at a later time, but this job is the real opportunity here.

I wish I could think that I would be satisfied in any job outside academia. The chances of me landing the career I want are minuscule, but I have to try because it's ALL I want.

Congratulations on the offer, and good luck with whatever you decide (up)


well i guess i'm afraid i will regret not doing the phd, i know this is no reason to do one, but not many people do get the opportunity! i guess i feel i would really enjoy the reasearch etc but i am doubtfull about the career opportunities at the end of it!!

i don't know anyone who has done a phd, apart from the ones in my uni, who i can't really ask, plus they are the ones who are employed so they will likely only say positive things. so I'd like to hear from people if they feel theirs has been worthwhile or not!

at the minute i'm still 50/50!

thanks everyone for your advice


Take the job. If you don't want to be considered for academia and research, it really isn't worth the effort (unless you're doing it for reasons such as self-fulfilment). I did what you're thinking of doing. I was offered a job in the NHS but thought I'd do a PhD instead. Now, I've effectively ruled myself out of a NHS post and a stable job, have very little money and am struggling a bit. The way I see it, it's probably better to do it the other way around. Accept the job, do it for a while and, if it's not for you, try and get a funded PhD instead. I know that if I had your current choice again, I'd go for the job.
Suppose you start the PhD and you regret the decision to turn down the job? Good luck with whatever you decide.


still haven't decided :-( only have to tomorrow really. all the logicalness in my body says take the job, but i still feel like its not right for me. i feel by not doing the phd i will be missing out. but on what i don't know? maybe nothing? I feel like i want to use my brain and create or invent something new and be my own manager and be involved in the whole research area.....but maybe i'm just being daft. my supervisor says if i don't do it now it will be impossible to get in in years to come too

Avatar for sneaks

I think you should do what makes you happy :-) just be aware that PhDs are NOT valued in the world of work, unless they are required in that profession. In my experience anyway. The reality is, it keeps you from gaining experience (and earning and therefore saving money) for three years.


Completely agree with what Sneaks says. Really hope you make whatever you feel is the best decision for you and try and not have too many "what if" conversations with yourself afterwards.

Plus don't forget there are still opportunities, the supervisor has probably said that because it means he would have to go out and get someone else - and don't forget the option of part time PhDs or even doing something like an MRes or MPhil if you didn't want to do a full PhD.

All the best whatever you decide :-)


I started my PhD with no thoughts for an academic career. I wanted a job in industry but the kind of job that needed (or would be greatly helped) by a PhD. I'm lucky that things went to plan.

You don't know where your PhD is going to take you - conferences and presenting are great for networking. I know these things helped me so that I had three job offers before I had even submitted my thesis.

You could take this job now and forget this PhD. I'm not sure how hard you had to work to even get the PhD position but if you jack it in, are you sure you wont be thinking "what if" in a couple of years time? The PhD experience is unique, not always in a good way.

Basically what I'm trying to say, after the PhD is over, you may not even be interested in the type of job you are being offered now, maybe something better comes along. It really is a gamble.


"Basically what I'm trying to say, after the PhD is over, you may not even be interested in the type of job you are being offered now, maybe something better comes along. It really is a gamble."

yes this is exactly what i'm thinking. i'm not sure if i'm even in love with the idea of doing that type of job now! but it has security etc

at least you knew that a phd would help your career in industry, i really don't know what area i'd like to go into afterwards or if a phd would be a benefit. thats why i'm thinkin to myself it is daft to do one, not being totally sure where it will take me


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I would take the job, absolutely. I recently finished a PhD and have found that the title Dr in no way substitutes for work experience. And actually the joy of signing "dr" was virtually non-existent and transient. The world did not change.

I have a temporary lectureship which obv. has a doctorate as a pre-requisite. But once that is over in the spring, I am out on a limb with a PhD that is not valued in the workplace.

Take the job. Then if after having a salary and work experience you feel like the PhD in 2 years time, do it. I often look at the PhD and the papers I wrote, and yes there was a degree of fufilment beyond a £, but with realism I am 27 now with very little chance of getting a stable job. The PhD could have waited and I should have spent my early 20s getting work experience, not 2 graduate degrees.

I can't imagine not having the degrees now - but if I coud choose again, I would choose the job.