Opportunities for postgraduate researchers

Opportunities for postgraduates

As a postgraduate researcher, you may be looking for a career inside or outside academia.

Careers in academia

For careers in academia, a PhD is likely to be a minimum requirement. Institutions will also look at your ability to teach and carry out administrative duties as well as your research potential and publication record.

The level at which you enter an academic career will depend on a number of things such as: your academic discipline; how much experience of teaching and research you already have; the relevance of any previous employment outside academia and the nature of the institutions that you apply to. However, most new doctoral graduates enter academia initially through a temporary post, e.g. as a post-doctoral researcher or temporary lecturer.

Also, of course, if you choose to apply for jobs in other countries you may find that entry requirements, career paths and job titles differ significantly from those that you have found in the United Kingdom.
You will find detailed information on academic career paths, together with an extensive list of vacancy sources (UK and international), on the University of Manchester’s ‘An Academic Career’ website.

Careers outside academia

Employers who are recruiting for posts where research is the main activity may ask for a PhD in a specific field and some major firms of recruitment consultancies have a designated entry point for holders of postgraduate qualifications. However, most doctoral graduates who enter careers in industry, commerce or public services do so by taking jobs for which the stated entry requirement is simply a degree. This may give rise to the feeling that all the effort that you have put into gaining a research degree has been wasted, but although employers’ recruitment campaigns may be targeted mainly at undergraduates, many of them actively welcome applications from those with a higher degree and some (but not all) of them will offer a higher salary and/or faster career progression to more highly qualified entrants.

When applying for jobs outside academia, you will need to put more stress on the transferable skills you have gained and how these are applicable to your chosen occupation. You can find out more about skills in the section 'Developing skills'.