PhD or Job


Hi, I am trying to decide between a PhD and a Job so would appreciate your thoughts. The PhD is going to be on labour governance (my master thesis topic) and fully funded. My reason for doing a PhD is to build an academic career for me. I am however 40 years old now. The job on the other hand is at a senior level, pays very well, and on environmental and social governance in the renewable energy sector in Africa. It has a lot of potential to growth and this is a job that I can go far with. This job also feels right (touch wood). And it is very interesting. So, I do not want to give up on the job. However I am worried that if I give up on the PhD that I will regret it later. But I am quite cautious of selecting the PhD option because I heard that it is very difficult to survive and get a proper job, a tenure track position in the academia. And me being 40 can be another hindrance. So, I am wondering if it is wise to give up a well paid, senior level and international job to select a PhD that will only eventually give me entry level contract jobs (if I am lucky) at the university or no job at all after the 3 - 4 years. I know there is a bit of a speculation here, but considering what I have read about this so far, it seems unlikely that I will have a lot of room for success in the job hunting in academia. Any thoughts on this would be highly appreciated. Thanks a lot. Ananda.


It really depends on how much you want a PhD. It sounds like that job offer would be a great opportunity. And you're correct, the chance of getting an academic job is almost non-existent and will probably pay far less as well.


It sounds like a very good job offer. I would only do the PhD if you feel driven to do it for other reasons (e.g. it is a lifetime ambition) - academic career prospects are not reliable enough for that to be the sole reason for doing a PhD.


Any reason you cannot do both? Take the job and do a part time PhD? Only you know what you truly want to accomplish in your life.

I am in a similar situation, I have a very good job but have an itch to do a Doctorate. The question for me is - if I put 4 years additonal hard work into my job (above what I do now) that is the equivalent time spent doing a Doctorate where would I be in say 10 years time?


In my opinion you should absolutely not in a million years pass up the job. Browse this forum - see how many PhD grads don't get jobs in academics. Take the job and enjoy your life.


Same goes for AOE - just stay in your job. Keep the PhDs and searching for academic jobs for people with nothing better to do! (Only partly sarcastic?)

Avatar for Eds

I daresay AOE can live without such advice.


Quote From Eds:
I daresay AOE can live without such advice.


I could not afford to quit my job and go full time research. A wife and two kids have made sure of that! If I ever did do a Doctorate I think it would be a DBA over a PhD purely as I do not wish to go into academia.. and then I wonder if a DBA would help me in my career?!?

Of course it's not all about career.. career.. career. So would a DBA make a difference to anyone? Would I be doing it for vanity reasons.. would I just annoy people by saying "err it's doctor AOE to you".

Ignore me... I am just blabbering on..


You say the job "feels right". And good prospects not as likely/easily attainable if you take the PhD route. It sounds like both your logic and instinct are saying take the job. In my humble opinion, only if you absolutely beyond anything want to do the PhD should you do it.


Yes he can live without my advice - but he would be wrong. AOE you can call yourself whatever you want - Elton John if you like. Maybe do your PhD or DBA when you've retired.

Avatar for Pjlu

Hi Ananda, I agree with the majority of the posters on this thread. I would stay with the job. The vague sort of regret you might have not doing the PhD now, will not match the misery of doing one and finding you are unemployed, looking for post doctorates in many obscure corners of the world, competing with ambitious young PhD candidates for any form of part-time or adjunct work and possibly having to live somewhere you really don't want to live-to support the PhD pathway-a scholar's pathway that really only offers a scholar's reward.

In your current work, you have a wonderful opportunity to make a real and tangible difference and to be paid for, what an opportunity.

My own position, I only started my part-time PhD, after children had grown and left home, I had a mortgage for a house and I had left a long term partner. I still have a great job but it is tough trying to balance both career and doctorate and I am not sure that when I finish this PhD in around 6 to 8 months and (hopefully) submit, that it will make much of a difference to my life at all. It certainly won't have made the difference I thought it would so many years ago, when I first hatched a plan for a PhD.

I know many candidates, young, very very bright and very hardworking, who are enrolled in doctoral programs in far more competitive universities and programs than I am, who are struggling to find work in academia and need to make some difficult choices. I also know a fair few academics, including my own supervisor, who are becoming tired of the never ending march on the publish or perish pathway.

Very kind regards



So here is my 2c worth as a 39 yo candidate looking to finish in 2.5 years (UK).

I tend not to think along practical lines, I go with passion (if I can afford to) despite the inconveniences.

Your Job: You sound genuinely interested in where it could lead, and the possibilities, and most importantly you sound enthusiastic, so it is a good option, however I do not know about your constraints but there is a bit of logic built into that decision I assume. Would you want to put the next 20 years into that job and feel as if you professional life has been one well lived?

Academia: First of all, statistics (7-10% PhD candidates getting full time jobs after graduation) is for 'other' people, or average people. I know I sound like a shit, but that has been my observation. It just lets you know what NOT to do. Sure there are no guarantees but most PhD candidates just do enough. Like its some achievement to finish in 3 years? Really? That is the minimum! You should have at least 2 papers AND a host of other value added on top of that. I am also the department's computing officer so I chat with all staff, old and new. Those without publications get temporary teaching posts, those with publications get full time research offers, often before they have even submitted. I have seen this happen more times that I can count. So if you are willing to put in an unreasonable amount of effort into your career, it will work out. Ignore statistics.

Secondly, why are you continuing your Master's research into a PhD? Is it worth studying? Its it because you have all your industry contacts and will be easy to get data? I encourage you to still rigorously interrogate the viability of your PhD, outside of it being a carry over from your Masters studies, as that is not justification enough for a relevant, current, interesting, sexy PhD (Yes I said sexy because marketing your research is a reality)


Lastly, do you want to be an academic or an industry / pseudo-academic (consultant) guy? What is your end game or dream? Once you know that with crystal clarity, then working backwards to figure out the path is the easy part.

Good luck though.


Quote From Fled:
Those without publications get temporary teaching posts, those with publications get full time research offers, often before they have even submitted.

Yep, exactly what happened to the last 5 or people that left my lab!


Hi All, Thank you so very much for your replies. I am very grateful to you all and appreciate that you took time to share your thoughts with someone in need of them, especially when you may have had better things to do! I felt better just reading your posts. Thanks again and take care, Ananda.