What to do with a PhD?


Can anyone tell me what kinds of jobs a PhD would lead to?


PhD in what?

1) university
2) consultant in business
3) employee in business, e.research director in some new technology start up
4) in public sector
just some examples


A PhD enables you to get a job where you are paid to think. This does not mean you will earn more, in fact you may earn less; however it increases chances of getting more interesting work, and being respected more for what you do.

If you want big money, there's no need to go beyond MSc or MBA level.


I do wonder this myself. I'm worried about never being able to afford a home or have a decent quality of life, but at the same time I'd like to be respected for what I do.


A PhD is certainly no guarantee of a job I suppose, and I can imagine it may put a fair amount of employers off?

I know if I commit to one I'm going to be in my early 30s when I finish and that kind of scares me...


Maccy Ds


Hi guys,

I got a job before finishing my PhD as a lectuer. My mate Andy went on and did a research fellowship before leaving academia. He now pays almost as much in tax a year as I get salary!



Hi... Saxonwhittle - it's not so bad being in your 30s, trust me ;o) ... though I know where you're coming from - I started my PhD at 30 - am now approaching 35 and submitting soon (4 years) - it's not fun being 35 in debt wanting to do a post-doc and have kids... hmmm.
Jobs - in my field of biology people have got either (i) post-docs progressing finally one day if you're lucky into a permanent lectureship; (ii) teaching fellowships in a university; (iii) working for government bodies in policy making/research; (iv) working for environmental consultancies; (v) become a teacher; (vi) working for charities; (vii) working for the biotech industry; (viii) contract work (i.e. self-employed/set up own business). I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones I have friends doing.


A PhD in the material sciences (and to some extent the natural sciences) is the best ticket into employment in sectors such as industry, engineering and academia (post docs, research, teaching etc.).

Unfortunately, a PhD in one of the humanities subjects is really only of use if you want to specifically pursue a career in higher education. A humanities PhD has little currency when it comes to getting a job outside of academia; and could even be seen as something of a disadvantage to most non-academic employers, who tend to place experience over intellect etc.

If you do have a humanities PhD, and have abandoned academia (as most PhD graduates are forced to do because of the intense competition for limited academic positions) preferring to get a regular nine to five job as a shipping clerk or something, then never disclose that you have a PhD to your prospective employer as it will most likely scare him or her off.


I disagree Orian. It is true that a PhD in Humanities has less chances to get recognised outside academia. This said, I think that it also matter of how you brand your skills with the prospective employer/s. If you are smart enough you will be able to acquire a number of 'transferable' skills through the PhD experience that can be very attractive, but it's up to you to advertise this in the right manner. The PhD itself has no value if you don't fill it with something other then researching archives and libraries and being able to write a piece of sustained and original research. Because it is much more than that, and you build it up by doing training courses, teaching, organising and project managing research, presenting at conferences, publishing, etc. I wouldn't want to hide all the above at all, but advertise it widely and loud!


i'm about to turn 33 saxonwhittle - don't know whether to be offended by your comment or patronising about it..?!

i have my moments of wondering 'when did that happen?', but it's really not that scary. if 50s are the new 30s then i'm practically a teenager.


Just had to add a note about the usefulness of a PhD, especially in the context of age...as a senior of 40, having been working as a professional for 18 years with both an undergraduate and Masters,in the health field, I can say the difference of a PhD for me (in the U.S.) is the ability to compete for grants as a P.I., the potential to increase my salary by about 40% (I hit my salary ceiling 5 years ago for my field), and being able to work independently on my research interests within the larger scope of the department. It really depends on your goals; if research is your thing, or academics, its needed to go to the next step; if you're going into industry, you can manage an awful lot with a Master's and creativity/experience.


As for the age context...we're all going to hit 40, 50, 60 years at some point, may as well hit it doing the profession or reaching the goals we want. My mentor/boss got her PhD at age 40 with 2 kids about the age of mine, and now 13 years later she just got a multi-million dollar grant and is a well respected, nationally reknown researcher, so I wouldn't worry about age as long as you are advancing to your goals; and there's a lot to be said for the benefit of experience before getting into this phase of your career.Oh, did that come across grumpy,us oldies get that way in the morning