Non-Academic Career Paths For PhD Holders

PhD Career

A lot of people often associate a PhD degree with a career in Academics. This isn’t often true as there is a lot of career option to explore with a PhD aside from academia.

A PhD holder need not limit their options to their academic research discipline as the skills acquired during a doctoral degree are of great value in diverse jobs and various professional sectors.

Job opportunities post-PhD are unlimited and within the professional industry itself, the type of roles that PhDs are hired into and tend to excel at is incredibly diverse. Take, for example, the sciences; the pharmaceutical, medical technology, diagnostic, and biotech industries hire professionals with doctoral degree into roles ranging from research scientists, regulatory affairs, medical affairs, and clinical research and even to positions like corporate strategy and intelligence.

Do a LinkedIn search of some of the top companies in your field/area of interest, and you will see the diverse roles that doctoral degree holders now occupy at companies.

In the course of your PhD, you would have acquired specific knowledge and specialist experience that would be valued by professional industries outside academia and this could lead to a fulfilling career path.

PhD careers

And when you decide to transition from academic research to other professional sectors, you’d find that the knowledge and transferrable skills you developed during your PhD will be of great help to you in securing employment.

Here we will outline certain PhD careers outside of academia in both STEM and non-STEM discipline.

PhD Career Option Outside of Academia

It is now common to find doctoral degree holders in various fields and professional sectors like the banking sectors, manufacturing, Marketing, the legal profession, pharmaceuticals and even the public sectors. Oftentimes too, you find that many doctoral degree holders proceed to professional careers outside their area of discipline. A PhD degree confers a range of skill set that cuts across various discipline areas, therefore transitioning from academia to a professional sector seems easy.

PhD careers

There are jobs in almost all industries and sectors that beg for employees that can write, speak, and think well. Aside from certain highly skilled support positions like finance or data analysis, practically all PhD holders have the ability to manage projects, people, and customers efficiently.

The skillset acquired from this engagements during a doctoral degree programme includes Writing skills, research and analytical skills and other technical knowledge that are useful in the non-academic world.

After completing a doctoral degree, there are varieties of job option outside academia that you can consider since decorate degree holders are capable of doing so many things after a PhD.

Here are four career paths that PhD holders can consider outside the Academia

1. Become an Entrepreneur

You can start your own company and turn your research outputs into a marketable product. You can also start a company that is not directly related to your PhD research.

2. Adviser to Policy Makers

Your experience and knowledge gained during your PhD research can help policymakers and politician make intelligent and pragmatic choices.

3. Research and Consultancy

You can conduct research work on your subject area by working as a consultant to private companies and the government.

4. Get a professional job

You can get a job in your field of specialization or even in a sector different from your academic subject knowledge.


If you are considering a career outside Academia, You could consider the following:

If you are planning to have a career outside academia after your PhD, there are a lot of things you should do besides research that can help your career.

As a PhD student, you should pay attention to the following:

  • Networking (both at academic-focused events and non-academic-focused events): Be deliberate about networking, and get better at small-talk. During gatherings, learn to talk about what you do to people outside of your field, and expand your horizons regarding different career options that are available.
  • Writing/oral communications: Being a clear and effective writer/communicator will help you in any field. Make the effort to practice and you will get better with time.
  • Learn other skills: Spend time learning other skills that might be beneficial to you in the long run outside academia.
  • Take an evening class or workshop (learn something new and more opportunities for networking.


If you have any queries regarding education abroad or if you need any assistance with processing your admissions, our study abroad counsellors are always willing to guide you.


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