Career options for researchers

Today's job market offers researchers a huge diversity of career opportunities in various roles and sectors.

Are you unsure what to do next? Do you see yourself as purely a specialist, and are overlooking potentially interesting career opportunities?

It can be hard to know where to start and what opportunities are available, especially if you haven't worked in other employment sectors. Unlike undergraduates, doctoral candidates are not generally targeted by big employers with recruitment campaigns and not all careers services can offer specialist advice to researchers. Perhaps you are unsure whether you'd like to stay in the higher education sector or move away; whether to continue working in research or use your skills in another field. It's likely that most of your colleagues' work experience is limited to academic settings.

To fully explore your career options you will need to investigate:

Don't forget that there are additional career opportunities available to you outside employment. For example, self-employment, working freelance, starting your own business or embarking on further study are ways you can generate your own opportunities. Hear tips from enterprising researchers in the recording from our online hangout How to start a business after your PhD.

More on careers for researchers in higher education. Higher education offers a range of employment opportunities, not just academic research. This includes teaching and lecturing, administration, support roles such as training and development, human resources, public engagement and careers professionals, and work in research-related services or projects such as policy, funding, grant administration, research management and knowledge transfer.

More on careers for researchers outside higher education. These range from research and teaching to business and management. From research positions in commercial companies, public bodies or non-profit organisations to research-related positions such as research policy and administration. Also, roles not directly related to research, but where the knowledge and skills of researchers are advantageous, such as consultancy, publishing, patent law.

Your institution’s careers service may be able to give you tailored information and guidance on your options and local opportunities.