Careers for researchers outside higher education

academic interview questionsThere are a wide range of careers for researchers outside HE from research, teaching, business and management to enterprise. They include research positions in commercial companies, public bodies or non-profit organisations to research-related positions such as research policy work and roles not directly related to research but where the knowledge and skills of researchers are advantageous.

What do researchers do?

The Vitae publications series What do researchers do? provides useful data and analysis on the types of positions researchers work in.  Our collection of researcher career stories provides an opportunity to hear directly from researchers who are now working in a variety of roles and sectors.

What do employers look for?

If you are considering a career outside HE it is useful to understand what employers value from your research career to date - our Employability lens on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework is based on employer surveys and can help you to focus on the key knowledge, behaviours and attributes typically developed by researchers that are most frequently desired by employers.

Working for yourself

If you are considering working for yourself you might be interested in our career stories from 30 doctoral qualified individuals who went on to set-up their own business or enterprise. Each story describes why the individual started their business and sets their decision in the wider context of their career. Also see the video from our online event: how to start a business after your PhD.

Job search

As most researchers actively pursue their next career step, being clear on what you would like to do next and why, is important – both to keep your career going in the right direction and to ensure that you can explain your motivations to a future employer.

Looking at adverts is not the only approach to finding a job. What do researchers do? Doctoral graduate destinations and impact three years on (Vitae 2010) asked questions about how researchers found their current jobs:

  • 33% of respondents found out about their current job through professional, work or educational contacts and networks
  • 16% through personal contacts
  • 24% already worked for the organisation
  • 22% had seen their position advertised in newspapers
  • 20% had seen it on an employers website
  • 10% recruitment agency
  • 5% University careers service
  • 8% through other careers services
  • 6% speculative approach
  • 1% headhunted

(Multi response questions: sum is greater than 100%)