Finding industry jobs after PhD is a worthwhile ambition for those who have earned doctorate degrees. As more students are learning , it can be helpful to see how many options are still available to you outside of the university walls. It may seem daunting to move away from academia after being accustomed to it for so long. However, this can be exactly the change you need to kickstart an exciting career.
This article delves into why PhD graduates would want to pursue a career in industry-related areas instead of academic settings. We also list some viable job options for those coming out of STEM programs or other disciplines, and touch upon how can provide helpful advice that will be appropriate to your situation, especially if you are not yet accepted into a doctoral program.
Figuring out is rarely easy, but expanding your horizons and considering new options may be a life-changing decision. At first, you may feel fear about leaving academia, but. More and more doctoral graduates are making the change to industry positions rather than remaining in academic settings, especially if they come from STEM fields.
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It may not be what you initially pictured when writing your , but industry jobs can provide you with a worthwhile career. Similar job hunting skills will benefit you no matter where you choose to look for employment. There is not one singular way to do this and it also depends on your chosen discipline. The important thing to remember is that there is a whole world out there for you to explore when it comes to your professional future. Here’re some of the reasons you should consider industry jobs after PhD:
You will often be told to be very sure of your decision when wondering . This line of thinking usually comes from the fact that graduate degrees are a boatload of work and effort without a guaranteed payoff at the end of it.
One of the biggest reasons why many PhD holders are now working in industry is because the job market is very competitive. The academic job market is generally competitive, but is now even more so due to less full-time, tenure-track positions available for the amount of PhDs to fill them. These applicants may not have found a viable postdoc position or had enough teaching experience to secure a job in academia. Whatever the case, working in an industry sector is much broader and PhDs can use their training in a variety of ways that differ from academia.
Knowing is mainly about how to improve your research and teaching capabilities through experience, but these positions are not necessarily known for their income potential. If a graduate does not wish to continue in these areas or settle for a lower pay, industry jobs tend to be more appealing.
While you are losing a lot of independence and intellectual freedom when leaving academia, the step to transition to industry usually leads to a higher salary. Industry positions tend to be business-driven with a focus on commercial profit, while academic jobs typically rely on tuition fees and other revenue streams. This is the primary reasoning as to why private sector work might lead to more money. Depending on the discipline, such as for , compensation in industry jobs is generally higher than in academic circles and seems like a more worthwhile option for students who have now spent multiple years of their life in school. When you factor in student debt or feeling undercompensated for your efforts, it can be more fulfilling for PhD graduates to move into industry spaces.
A difference between academia and industry is the type of culture and workplace demands you will find for each type of employer. As stated previously, academia is very much based within the research you will be putting out. You might already know , but the plight to get published will continue into your academic career. Your main focus in an academic setting will be determining where your research is going to go and how to fill in current gaps in scholarship.
Working for a company means that the work you are doing is usually more driven by the results. You will often have to hit performance indicators that indicate your contributions to the enterprise as a whole, rather your individual output. Industry workplaces also have more of a variety of tasks that you may have to complete and have more opportunity for growth. That being said, an industry job may seem more stable or interesting to graduate students.
Now that you’re more aware about why those who have earned a doctorate can move away from academic careers, what are some of the industry jobs that be of interest to you? There is truly no list that will be 100% complete, as the amount of opportunities are endless. Nevertheless, here are some great examples of industry jobs one can have after completing a PhD:
For STEM graduates, this will be a very obvious option right off the bat. Just because you are no longer in the academic job market, does not mean you cannot participate in research at any level. If you acquired a background in research while completing your PhD, there are positions that will accommodate this. A wide variety of industries are all about what is new and value innovation, and their research and development departments will reflect these principles.
Another positive about industry research positions as a scientist is that you do not necessarily need to worry about how to get a tenure-track position. In academia, you have the added pressure of trying to achieve tenure and meeting research expectations while teaching and participating in university events. This is not the case for industry. Industry research science positions can be as fulfilling and have as much of a positive impact as academic positions. The same can be said for engineering-related positions of a similar nature. In other words, there are research careers available to you outside of academia.
- Clinical Laboratory Scientist
- Chief Materials Scientist
- Genomic Research Scientist
- Immunogenicity Scientist
2. Data Analyst
As a PhD, you are perhaps able to analyze data better than most other candidates. Many organizations want to use the information they collect to make better decisions about the future, whether it is related to customers, statistics, or otherwise. As a data analyst, you will use your data to solve problems and be an essential part of your company. This job requires analytical, numerical, and technical skills to successfully perform. Ideally, this position will combine your affinity for data collection with conventional business knowledge.
- Strategic Initiatives Analyst
- Supply Chain Master Data & Solutions Analyst
- Planning Analyst
3. Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Advanced scientific knowledge is beneficial for many fields, especially for matters related to health care. Working in regulatory affairs means that you are responsible for obtaining and maintaining government approval for drugs, nutritional products, medical devices, and more. This is a position that combines research with a legal touch, as you will be filling out paperwork and ensuring that whatever product you are working with follows regulatory guidelines. If you are detail-oriented and good at dealing with deadlines, this option might be of interest to you.
- Regulatory Affairs Manager
- Senior Quality and Regulatory Affairs Specialist
- Director of Regulatory Affairs
4. Pharmaceutical Roles
In a similar vein, STEM PhDs in particular can find work in the pharmaceuticals industry. While you not be as familiar with the medical field specifically or have not been to any of the or Canada, this does not mean that your skills cannot benefit a pharmacology company. For instance, a medical science liaison meets with doctors and other practitioners to create strategies that enhance health outcomes. They also may be responsible for producing medical equipment, assessing clinical samples, and enable drug distribution, among other tasks. While some MSLs can have a medical degree or be a Doctor of Pharmacy, any PhD related to research science can be relevant to a position of this sort.
- Medical Science Liaison
- Pharmaceutical Data Scientist
- Clinical Information Science Associate Director
Consultants are professionals that can provide advice to companies or clients in need of hitting specific targets or achieving certain goals. Consulting roles can be related to almost any professional field. Some of the most common consulting firms are related management consulting, financial consulting, human resources consulting, and academic consulting. Since you have a PhD and are likely well-versed in how higher education admissions work, becoming a could be beneficial to your career. Consulting firms usually employ a team of experts that are usually hired on a contract basis to a particular client. In the case of academic consulting, your clients will likely be prospective students looking to get into competitive graduate school programs. Since you have already gone through the process yourself, your input on a and interview prep could be much appreciated.
- Academic Consultant
- Associate Workflow Consultant
- Change Management Consultant
- Organizational Measurement & Evaluation Consultant
6. Professional Writer
Regardless of discipline, your academic training has probably left you with superior writing skills, which can be essential to industry as well. Writing skills are always necessary for companies around the world. are available in various capacities and are adjacent to many other fields, such as communications and marketing. As digital content becomes more prevalent, well-written newsletters, social media posts, blogs, product descriptions, press releases, and more could be used to build a brand’s presence online. Writing jobs could also be more specified, such as becoming a medical writer or business writers. Therefore, there is a wide range of opportunity for PhDs who can write effectively.
- Medical Writer
- Grant Writer
- Technical Writer
Moving on from content writer jobs, these skills are also incredibly useful in marketing environments. PhDs could potentially have the ability to share creative ideas to promote company products or services. For example, one way to do this is to establish some of the and how they will benefit your organization. Marketing roles, like other types of positions, could also be somewhat related to academia, as colleges and universities need their own marketing too. As someone who has been a student through multiple stages, you can garner enough expertise to assist with implementing . Pretty much every business needs marketing measures, and you can definitely participate in those using the training from your doctorate degree.
- Marketing Communications Coordinator
- Marketing Science Supervisor
- Digital Marketing Manager
8. UX Designer
A user experience designer is a relatively new type of job that is broad and, once again, can apply to multiple professional fields. The exact specificities of this role can depend on the company, but its main objective is to make a product useful and easily accessible to multiple parties. The most common type of UX design is for company websites or apps. This job can be performed through testing of various kinds, creating prototypes, making ideal customer personas through conducting user research, and more. Keeping the end user in mind is key to success in this field. In this role, you are essentially collecting data and using it to improve the product at hand.
- Senior Product Designer
- Website UX Designer
- UX Researcher
If you are a business-savvy PhD, starting your own enterprise may be the path for you. Make sure your business is related to a field you are passionate about and that is feasible to begin on your own or with a small number of colleagues. Over your studies, you can develop the necessary skills to succeed in business, such as data collection, identifying trends, and solving problems to move forward successfully. Once you identify what the relevant market needs and how your business will operate, you can learn more about the best to assist with creating an organization that will last. While networking is also crucial to finding academic jobs, these skills can also evidently be applied to entrepreneurship. Connecting with others is sure to be an advantage whether you work in academia or industry.
- Startup Entrepreneur
- Small Business Entrepreneur
- Large Company Entrepreneur
9. Product Manager
Another role that is related to business is a product manager. As it is a newer field similar to UX Design, it is probably another avenue where your PhD can be useful that you may not immediately think of. In this job, you would be identifying how a product or service will be successful and how this fits into the larger business objectives of the company. It requires a lot of teamwork and not having control of every decision. The power of being able to influence without necessarily having the most authority is crucial to success in this position, as well as asking the right questions and empowering the team around you. This kind of role will be especially useful for STEM PhDs, who can work in electronics, aeronautics, IT and biotechnology, among other fields.
- Assistant Product Manager
- Senior Product Manager, International Payments
- Product Manager, Digital Enrollment
10. Sales Positions
Salespeople often have qualities that you will embody as a PhD, such as analytical and problem solving skills. Any job in sales requires some form of persuasion, which may have been necessary for you when you were writing essays or learning . You may also have the necessary experience for it, depending on what you studied and what you will be selling. For STEM graduates, working in technical sales will make the most sense. In this kind of role, you will be selling software, hardware, or IT services. These roles are not limited to STEM, however, as there are sales roles that exist in many fields. You can also work in a fundraising department oversee major gifts to your company, for example. A doctorate degree can be seen as more credible and add to your overall sell capabilities while confirming your knowledge about the product at hand. Positions within sales can also have a lot of variety, such as or ones that necessitate travel.
- Sales Representative
- Senior Technical Sales
- Cyber Security Sales Specialist
While many of the jobs listed above can appeal to STEM or business disciplines, a PhD in the arts or the humanities can lend themselves to jobs in a broad number of fields, including the publishing industry. Whether these publications are academic or not is up to the job itself, but your primary responsibilities would be to approve project acquisitions, manage budgets, oversee departments, and more. If you’re passionate about books or other forms of publication, and want to transition to an industry setting, the publishing industry may appeal to you.
- Literary Agent
- Publishing Manager
- Publishing Production Coordinator
While it can seem pretty daunting to make the jump from academia to industry, there are tons of PhD graduates doing the same. Working outside of the university might not be the first thing you think of when you initially answered in your grad school interview, but plans can change over time. The skills and experience you have garnered over the years can translate rather well to a variety of industries, so be careful not to limit yourself or sell yourself short. Completing a doctorate degree is a massive achievement and you should be very proud of yourself. However, this does not mean you will have a job fall in your hands. You must still search and put the necessary effort into planning out your future. If you are not yet enrolled in a PhD or other graduate program, using a to create a plan can make a world of difference. At the end of the day, the first step is knowing what your options are so you can prepare as best as possible. What you decide to do with that information is up to you.
1. How difficult is it to transition from academia to industry?
Finding a job in an industry setting is not any more or less difficult than finding a job in academia. What’s important is adjusting your skillset, mentality, and perhaps your approach to finding a job. Industry jobs have a slightly different process for assessing who the best candidates are, so you must appeal to that.
2. What are the differences between academic jobs and industry jobs?
The main differences are the exact types of roles and responsibilities you will have, salary expectations, the larger goals of your position, work structure, and management style.
3. What are some tips for looking for industry jobs after a PhD?
Try and find what types of jobs your discipline and background will excel in. If certain skills that you do not have are requested again and again, work towards gaining those skills to become more appealing to those hiring.
4. Does being published help with searching for industry jobs?
Industry jobs do tend to focus less on your academic qualifications, such as the amount of times you have been published. However, this does not mean that you can’t have a available for any positions that may relevant or to prove your skills in that area.
5. How should I network for finding industry jobs?
Using your network effectively is important when searching for any job opportunities. If you know anyone who has made the change from academia to industry after earning a PhD or has hiring experience in this domain, their advice will probably serve you well.
6. Can I still find a postdoc even though I want to transition to industry?
There are postdoc positions that relate to industry-related jobs, rather than academic ones. These can give you beneficial experience that will aid you in finding a more permanent role down the road. Review the to get a sense of how to secure that spot.
7. Is preparing for a job interview different for industry positions?
Yes, slightly. The questions you receive may be a little different or focus on skills and attributes related to that particular position instead of mainly your academic accomplishments.
8. Who can help with finding industry jobs after completing a PhD?
There are recruiters who will be able to assist candidates just like you. If you are currently enrolled in a PhD program, you could also ask academic advisors or trusted faculty members for their input. If you have not yet applied to a PhD program, can strategize with you to maximize your chances of acquiring a great education and career. These trained experts can help with application documents such as a . They could also be useful for interview preparation and providing tips that will be valuable at any stage of your education or professional career.