Career opportunities outside higher education
For the majority of researchers, higher education institutions are the most obvious employer, but researchers worki in many other sectors too.
Career destinations of researchers
One way to appreciate the range of opportunities in various sectors is to look at the past career destinations of researchers. Unfortunately, there is little data available on the complete UK research community. However, universities are obliged to collect data on the destination of their student populations.
Since 2004, Vitae (formerly the UK GRAD programme) has analysed the destinations of doctoragraduates on a national level with their publication 'What Do PhDs Do?' which offers an interesting perspective on the employment opportunities open to researchers.
It is worth noting that the destination data used for 'What Do PhDs Do?' is collected on doctoral graduates who have graduated in the preceding year, therefore only noting the initial destination, which may be a temporary career step.
The following graph illustrates the proportion of UK doctoral graduates from 2003-2005 that entered each major employment sector.
|Year of graduation||2003||2004||2005|
|Finance, business and It||9.1%||9.3%||9.0%|
|Health and social work||15.5%||16.1%||17.0%|
Employment sectors entered by UK-domiciled doctoral graduates (2003-2005), based on Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC)]
It is clear from the data that trends of sector employment are fairly consistent over time. Not unexpectedly, education is the main employer, but other sectors such as 'health and social work' and 'manufacturing' also employ substantial numbers of researchers.
To explore doctoral destinations further, we will examine each of these sectors and illustrate occupations within them, in both research and non-research careers.
- Education (not including higher education)
- Finance, business and IT
- Health and social work
- Public administration
Salaries vary a lot between and within these sectors. Have a look at the Prospects website for an indication.
Finally, we look at what employers look for in potential recruits to positions outside higher education.
Information within your institution
It is worth finding out the destinations of doctoral graduates and other researchers from your institution. All UK higher education institutions have data compiled for the national survey: your institution's careers service will be able to assist you with this.
Finding out where former members of your department or faculty are working can be equally valuable, so talk to colleagues, your supervisor or manager for leads.
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