5 Career Options for Doctoral Graduates

I want to reach out and say congratulations to all those graduating with a Ph.D. this year. Your dissertation was successfully approved. And, after many years of schooling, you have finally reached the highest goal of your academic career. But, just because you have graduated, doesn’t mean it’s over. In fact, it’s a whole new beginning! Now, you have to decide exactly what you want to do with your life. There are numerous options for you to choose.

The world is open to you more than ever before. And, that can be confusing in trying to decide what course or career is right for you now. Fortunately, we have compiled this list of ideas on what you could do now that you are a PostDoc. Remember one thing, however. Just because you are now done with your Ph.D., your hard work is not over. Looking for a position, working part-time as a professor, and applying for work anywhere can all happen to you. Be sure to make the best decisions for your life.


Options after a Ph.D.

  • Academic work as a PostDoc
  • Industrial Researcher
  • Managerial Consulting
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Entrepreneur


Academic work as a PostDoc

With large numbers of undergrads coming each year, universities usually have a large amount of income to spend on research. If you wish to stay at the University you received your Ph.D., or find a new one to work for, it is easier to do the research you want to do with a University’s resources. It is much better using a University’s tools for publishing work, and you may even receive great recognition for your work in the scientific community. However, becoming a full researcher at any University immediately after graduating with your Ph.D. is difficult.

You most likely can be hired as a part-time lab assistant or professor while waiting for a full-time research position to open up. That is why it is important to look at other Universities besides the one of your Ph.D., as other opportunities could be available elsewhere. Also, you will have to work with University bureaucracy, unfortunately, which can prevent you from fully doing the exact research you wish to do. But, if you play your cards right, it will be a rewarding career path. With enough work, you may even be granted tenure, one of the most prestigious accomplishments of any professor.


Industrial Researcher

Another option besides doing research for a University is working in an industry. For example, you could be work for a pharmaceutical company coming up with a drug to decrease the likelihood of a stroke. In fact, pharma companies are very popular for doctoral graduates for the salary and work prowess. Working in Industry can lead to a productive and fantastic career, whichever company you’re working for. You could even start your own research company!

Industrial work is much different from Academic work though. In industry, you are usually working the stereotypical 40 hour work week working an in office and lab, depending on what your position requires. Career advancement is also quite possible in industry, and with it brings increased pay and recognition. It depends on what you’re looking for in research whether you want to work in academia or industry.


Sales and Marketing

You as a scientist can decide to make a shift from working in a lab to working in an office. One such example is going into sales and marketing. When a company is selling products or services for scientists, it is beneficial for them to employ such scientists. Those employees will bring knowledge and experience of what other scientists want to be able to do their research. This makes their insight priceless when trying to sell to other scientists.

The advantage with sales and marketing is that onboarding for a company should not too complex of a procedure. Also, you already have a lot of understanding of customer base, as you are an example of the customer base being sold to. With your insider knowledge of potential customers, you can appeal to them, allowing higher sales of the product or service. This can lead to a successful career.


Management Consulting

Since you graduated with a Ph.D., you have used a wide range of analytical skills to accomplish your goals from your bachelor’s degree to finishing your doctoral thesis. With managerial consulting, you can use the skills you’ve developed. Management consulting requires being able to take big picture ideas and problems, break them down into easy pieces, and create steps to accomplish them.

Look at what you did to complete your thesis! You already have that experience, with your thesis being a massive task you needed to accomplish. And, you were successful in cutting it down and finishing it. That is exactly what consulting can be!  That is what many businesses want on their team to better their team’s management and work ethic. You might not do the exact research you wish to do, but you can have a very successful career being a Management consultant.



If you consider yourself a headstrong and motivated individual, entrepreneurship might be something that interests you. If you have an idea of a product or service you want to create, you can start a small business with it. This is a risky yet rewarding venture. The work, especially in the first few years, can be quite strenuous as you work to get your start-up off the ground. But, success brings profit and personal satisfaction.

Look to labfolder as an example. Our co-founders were PostDoc researchers who decided to go into business together to create our Electronic Lab Notebook. They went away from the research they were doing to create a business they both believed in. If you consider yourself a passionate and hard-working individual, and willing to take risks, then maybe entrepreneurship is what you want in life.


Even after graduating with your Ph.D. you have to remember that your entire life is ahead of you. Getting your doctorate isn’t the end, it’s the start of something entirely new. It opens doors you never thought possible. You must be prepared for what life throws at you now that you are no longer a student. And in the end, I wish you the best of luck in striving for the career you’ve always wanted.


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