Places to Look for Jobs as a PhD Graduate

After years of hard work on your research, your PhD or doctorate has finally paid off, making you an expert in your field and ready to take on an exciting new opportunity. But where do you start? What kind of job do you want? What are the best places to look for jobs as a PhD graduate?

Whether you have a specific job already in mind or are canvassing all of the possibilities, the single most important thing to remember is that you have something unique to offer and there are employers out there who value your particular skills.

Most graduates who are considering a search beyond the academic world are ready to make a permanent move into a job that uses their expertise and education in the best way. Many have a strong desire for a research career, and it is precisely these sorts of people whom the industry is interested in recruiting. Coming from a research background, they are not afraid of tackling complex, open-ended problems, and they are quite comfortable developing and testing new ideas.Top 10 Places to Look for Jobs as a PhD Graduate

With the PhD still considered overqualification for many jobs in the industry, at least at the time of hiring, it is not surprising that few companies have formal recruitment programs for recent graduates with a PhD in a technical field. The good news is that today’s PhD can use an ever-increasing variety of resources to identify potential employers who might benefit from his research background. Hence the reason for this post places to look for jobs as a PhD graduate. Let’s get started!

Top 10 Places to Look for Jobs After PhD

Most PhD graduates go on to work in academia as university researchers and professors but we would love to know, where can a PhD work aside the academics? The key thing for job-seeking PhD graduates to remember is that there are more opportunities than just in academia.

Check Out: Highest Paying PhD Degrees With Estimated Pay

Government, commercial enterprises and industry present excellent alternative options. If you’ve decided that academia is not for you, where do you start looking? We have compiled a list of useful career opportunities both in academia and beyond for new PhD graduates, where they can look for jobs.

#1. Academic Institutions

We have added academics as one of the places to look for jobs as a PhD graduate because it is a common place for doctorate degree holders. Academic institutions employ the largest number of PhDs. Positions at universities include research assistant, research fellow, lecturer, and professor. Periodically, these positions may be advertised online, but sometimes it is best to make a speculative application.

High-level jobs, such as lecturer and professor, usually require several years of experience in the field on top of your PhD and may require a consistently good publication record. This means that if you are passionate about staying in academia and feel that you can achieve a high-level position, it is best to continually strengthen your CV and keep an eye on job opportunities in a university setting. Well, if you are not an academic freak, then there are other high-paying non-academic jobs for you.

See Also: Best 9 Alternative Career Paths For PhD Graduates

Nevertheless, aside from working in the academic environment in the positions mentioned above, where can a PhD work? Let us find out other places you work as a PhD graduate.

#2. Research Organizations

Research organizations employ PhD graduates from a wide variety of disciplines in both research and non-research capacities. Scientific, medical, and engineering graduates are usually best suited to research roles, although some positions are available for social scientists in areas such as education and health. Non-research (research support) roles are often also open to graduates from other disciplines.

Explore the vast array of organizations carrying out research in all subject areas. These include government departments, charities, and commercial companies. In the NHS, clinical academics split their time between research and clinical work. It is important to make a thorough job search, identifying organizations that you hadn’t previously considered and researching what they do and potential job opportunities.

#3. Consultancy

Consultancy is one of the sectors which hire PhDs regularly for research and advisory type of work in the consultancies or sometimes for academic research. Consulting firms provide professional advice in management, strategy, finance, marketing, and information technology, among other areas. These firms vary in size from sole proprietorships to large corporations.

PhDs are usually employed in these areas to provide a high level of expertise in the field and to publish research in reports or academic journals. Your expertise in a specific area can be indispensable to the consultancy firms and you can kickstart your career from there after your doctorate.

#4. Journalism/Publishing

PhD graduates are inquisitive and knowledgeable people who are continuously on the lookout for new knowledge and analyses. As a graduate with such rigour, journalism may be a viable career option. Journalism, whether it be print or online journalism, is all about critically analysing and understanding current issues and events.

Print journalism involves writing articles based on opinions and facts about current events, issues, and personalities, while online journalism involves writing to a target audience by considering how this information will affect a said group of people. PhD Graduates can also become involved in freelance journalism which allows for a greater deal of flexibility.

It involves selling articles to newspapers and magazines but maintaining the intellectual freedom of working from home. High ranking editorial positions usually require at least 5-10 years of varied journalism experience and this may not be an option for the more mature graduate. However, it is these very positions that are an alternative entry point for graduates as they can use their extensive knowledge on specific topics to become specialist correspondents.

For example, a PhD graduate in genetics may become a medical correspondent. Finally, journalism is a career that can be entered and exited at any time. Many journalists were once academics and a PhD would provide the necessary experience and knowledge to succeed in such a transition.

See Also: PhD Careers: Popular Misconceptions about Postgraduate Study

#5. Government Agencies

Government research labs hire PhD graduates and have some programs for postdocs and those considering a research career. These labs are a good place to start for those eager to offset the high cost of their education. The US federal government, known for being the largest employer in the United States, boasts an astounding workforce of around 2 million employees. Remarkably, this expansive government is projected to continue its growth trajectory, thereby creating opportunities for individuals with PhDs.

High-level technical and scientific positions are scattered across numerous agencies, however specific clusters of research activity exist in the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

High-level technical and scientific positions are almost always permanent, full-time positions with pay scales equivalent to or higher than that of academic or industrial postdoctoral salaries. So, still do not know places to look for jobs as a PhD graduate? Start looking for government agencies.

#6. Industries and Private Companies

Industries and private companies tend to hire PhD personnel in professional or managerial roles. However, the market is increasingly flexible with a growing trend in job titles and job functions. The range of job titles and functions for science and engineering PhDs in industry is quite diverse and varies widely from one company to another. The dominant job function for PhDs is R&D, although engineers in the US may also find jobs in sales and marketing.

For PhDs seeking employment in industries, it is generally to their advantage to be flexible and open-minded about the kinds of work they are willing to consider. If you are interested in working for a large company, it is often a good idea to look into working as an intern or a co-op participant. Industry research jobs are available in a very wide range of disciplines and products.

#7. Non-Profit/Non-Governmental Organization

Many Non-Profit Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NPOs & NGOs) focus on policy and research, meaning the skills and methods of applying for a paid PhD position with a research proposal or approaching research groups directly are also applicable here. As always, you should be proactive and can do this by looking for organizations that interest you and approaching them directly.

A job in an NGO could also be a great way of putting your ideals and beliefs into practice and creating a positive impact on the world. Many PhD graduates have felt disillusioned with their academic experience or feel that they have wasted years of their lives, and assessing social and economic policy may be of great interest to them. However, it is worth remembering that these jobs may not always pay well or offer significant job security.

You should also not overlook consulting jobs with firms that have contracts with NGOs or government agencies. There is a growing market for policy research and the outsourcing of consultants is now common in these sectors. These jobs could be varied but may often involve short-term projects. This can be seen as positive as it will allow you to try the job out and develop a diverse skill set, however, some may prefer a more stable and long-term employment.

#8. Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is one of the most challenging career paths for a PhD graduate, and it does not guarantee an immediate job, a regular paycheck, or utilization of the PhD, but it is a viable option that will allow you to maximize your potential. It is a relatively unconventional path and it could be viewed as a risky option, particularly if you have family and financial commitments.

Entrepreneurship can come in many different forms and is typically carried out in small or new businesses through innovation and the application of knowledge. This may involve setting up your own business in areas such as consulting or applying for small business innovation research grants, particularly in the sciences. If you have a great idea and are willing to take the risk, today there is more help than ever that can increase the odds of success.

#9. Law

Legal research is gaining momentum as having a PhD will enable students to undertake more in-depth and specific research, which is nowadays required by law firms, government, and third-sector organizations. Undertaking legal research may involve creating research projects, analyzing legislation, and tracking how laws have been developed over time in specific areas.

Having a law degree or a PhD in law is not a prerequisite for securing employment in law firms or legal agencies or even as court staff (eg. Court clerk). With a doctoral degree in linguistics, computer science or engineering, you have the opportunity to seek employment as a patent expert or even legal secretary in law firms globally.

In the field of law, there are many opportunities for those with a PhD as this is a field that is increasingly requiring a higher level of qualification. Those with a PhD in law will be required and skilled enough to undertake teaching law in an academic institution, which is an option that the vast majority of students pursue.

#10. Manufacturing

For PhD graduates looking to use their technical and research skills to solve practical problems, the manufacturing sector is an excellent choice. It offers the opportunity to develop new processes and products and conduct applied research in an industrial environment. Manufacturing jobs are available through direct application to companies, both large and small. Many positions may not be openly advertised, so it is worth speculatively approaching companies of interest.

Manufacturing companies may also be seeking collaborative R&D partners from academia. A proactive graduate may be able to initiate a project which is part company funded, perhaps leading towards a PhD sponsored by the firm.


For fresh PhD graduates looking for jobs to at least pay for their basic needs, these ten places to look for jobs as a PhD graduate are where a doctorate graduate can work comfortably. Given the considerable reduction of funding in the higher education sector, it might not be the best time to look for a job in a university. Instead, it would be worth looking into the public sector because although unemployment rates are high, it has not been as affected by the recession as other sectors.


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