Those who've completed a Doctorate are finding more opportunities to work outside of academia than ever before - discover what PhD jobs are available and how to choose a suitable career

What jobs can I do with a PhD?

The most common roles for PhD graduates are:

Although getting an academic job is a natural step for many PhD graduates, a greater number of opportunities exist outside of teaching and education.

For instance, more than a quarter (29%) of PhD graduates work in science and pharmaceuticals. This has perhaps been helped by private sector companies becoming more research-orientated in recent years.

As well as the medical profession, research scientists can also specialise in life sciences, maths and physical sciences.

If you've aspirations to become a clinical or educational psychologist, you'll need to have studied a specific taught Doctorate in either clinical (DClinPsy or ClinPsyD) or educational (DEdPsy) psychology.

How do I get started in academia?

PhD graduates often struggle to secure a permanent academic job immediately. To give yourself the best chance, contact as many other academics as possible in your specialist field.

You may then be presented with the opportunity to become a teaching or research fellow, though this is likely to be on a short-term contract with a view to permanent employment.

You may find opportunities on individual university websites or at Jobs.ac.uk, but read about getting an academic job for more information and advice.

Can I get a non-academic job?

There are many ways to boost your chances of landing non-academic PhD jobs. You should:

It's also worth regularly checking sector-specific websites and publications for job adverts, such as:

How do I sell my PhD to employers?

When applying for non-academic PhD jobs, you must demonstrate how your knowledge and expertise will benefit the employer. Focus on the transferable skills that the PhD has helped to enhance, such as:

  • communication skills - you'll have given many presentations, lectures or seminars
  • creative thinking - PhD students are often asked to think outside the box
  • management ability - as well as managing your own time and workload, you may have managed a small team of research assistants or mentored undergraduate students
  • problem-solving skills - during your PhD, you'll have tackled and solved numerous research problems.

For more guidance, see applying for jobs.

What do other PhD graduates do?

Of the PhD graduates in employment 15 months after graduation in 2017/18, just over a fifth (22%) found work in education - as a higher education teaching professional or a university researcher. The majority therefore chose to pursue non-academic careers.

DestinationPercentage
Working86.9
Studying0.1
Working and studying8.9
Unemployed0.4
Other3.6
PhD graduate destinations
Type of workPercentage
Science29
Education21.8
Legal, social and welfare8.4
Health7.2
Business, HR and finance professionals6.8
Types of work entered in the UK

PhD destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

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