What is a non-academic career?
For PhDs, the term non-academic encompasses any career that is not university teaching/research . These typically fall into 2 categories: Alternate Academic and Non-Academic.
For those pursuing master’s degrees, non-academic careers, including alternate academic, are the norm.
- Alternate Academic: Higher Education (not faculty/teaching/post-doc/lecturer)
~ Examples of Positions: Adviser (Academic/Career); Program Coordinator; Lab Manager; Development (Fund-raising) Assistant; considered to be Staff Positions
~ Examples of Settings: Writing Center; Career Services; Academic Department; Research Lab; Study Abroad; Teaching Center; Foundation/Development Office
- Non-Academic: Business/Industry; Non-profit Organizations; Government
~ Examples of Positions: Research Associate; Curator; Curriculum Director; Data Manager; R&D Lab Director; Analyst; Consultant
~ Examples of Settings: Government Agencies; Health Care Organizations; Non-Profits (e.g., arts, health, research, education); Consulting Firms; Think Tanks; Biotech Companies; Engineering Companies; Numerous Industries
If you are considering a alternative career path, your first step is to gather information:
- Creating a Resume (not an Academic CV)
- Identifying Skills and Gaining Experience
- Exploring Options: Networking and Resources
- Locating Job Listings
As you go through this process, keep the following in mind:
- There is a degree of serendipity and accident in any career journey–but that seems especially so in alternative PhD careers.
- Your first position out of your PhD may well be below your skill level (w/commensurate pay)–but you must get your foot in the door and gain additional experience.
- Applying for jobs on websites is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for job searching–you cannot depend on only submitting resumes online.
- It is never too early to start–create a resume, start networking, research career options. For a comprehensive list of campus resources and an associated career timeline, see GradLEAF.