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Non-Academic Careers

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.

  1. 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
  2. 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:

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.

Beyond the Ivory Tower: Career Options for PhDs