Whether you're interested in an academic career or working in other sectors, Careers and Placements can provide advice, information and guidance.
Find out what researchers do, and how much they earn after completing their PhD, in this summary report of 2018/19 destination data from Vitae (log in/register with your University email address for free access).
An academic career
Many research students start a PhD with the aim of entering an academic career, but competition for opportunities is intense and gaining permanent contracts can be difficult. Make sure that you understand the realities of an academic career and make a realistic assessment of your motivation and commitment. Talk to your supervisor, academic and research staff, and use the following resources:
- Academic, research and teaching careers
- Pursuing an academic career (Vitae)
- Jobs.ac.uk have advice on building academic and research careers and have produced a series of e-books on topics such as ‘The essential guide to moving up the academic career ladder’
- The University of Edinburgh's guide to fellowship applications on their career development resources page, and list of fellowship opportunities for early career researchers (internal use only - University of York email required).
Careers in other sectors
More than half of UK PhD graduates enter non-academic careers so pursuing a career outside academia shouldn’t be seen as an alternative or less prestigious option; for many, it is an active choice.
As a research graduate you develop a range of skills that are highly valued by employers in a wide variety of sectors. Even if a job doesn’t require a PhD, employers often say that researchers add value to the role and progress quickly. Some PhD graduates choose to develop a career in higher education administration, management or support roles, often called academic adjacent or alt-ac jobs:
- Academic Adjacent careers
- Beyond the Professoriate
- Explore non-lab based options for scientific researchers
- What do Research Staff do Next? An insight into the careers of research staff who move into occupations beyond academic research (sign-up required)
- Jobs.ac.uk have advice on working in industry and professional roles and have produced an e-book on ‘PhD Employability: Career pathways and recruiter insights.
Outside higher education your skills and experiences can be transferred to a range of career options. Find out how you can relate your research skills to the skills typically required by employers:
- Employability lens (Vitae)
- Discover the 20+ transferable skills that make PhDs totally employable (JobsOnToast.com)
Which career might suit you?
If you are finding it difficult to think of types of work that might suit you, or you aren't sure of what your options are, here are some resources to help you to generate ideas. Start with our tools for Exploring your options to help you to start reflecting on your skills, strengths, personality, motivations and values. When you research jobs, think about the typical tasks and work environment and whether these would suit your work preferences and skills.
Find some inspiration about where a PhD might take you:
- After your doctorate (Vitae)
- Researcher career stories (Vitae)
- 101 jobs that change the world (UKRI)
- University of Sheffield’s Think Ahead blog
- Non-academic Careers for PhD Holders (FindAPhd.com)
- Postgradual: the PhD careers blog
- Birmingham University’s PGR Career Explorer resource
- The Versatile PhD (registration required)
- Working in Research - explore a range of research related careers in a variety of sectors
- Career profiles (Research Careers)
- University of York HR case study videos
and the following podcasts:
If you're finding it difficult to identify careers that might suit you, try these tools to generate ideas as a starting point:
Explore job sectors and meet employers
Attend recruitment fairs and employer presentations and webinars to meet employers, find out more about their opportunities and discuss your skills and experiences with them.
Attend recruitment fairs Careers and Placements organise recruitment fairs in autumn (which include a range of sectors including law, public sector, technology, engineering, business and finance). Whilst many of their opportunities will not specifically require a PhD, you are still eligible to apply. Some employers sponsor you to obtain relevant professional qualifications, such as in law, accountancy, and patent attorney.
Each year we run some events which are designed to offer an insight into specific sectors and types of work. In the past these have included sectors such as Environment, Research, Arts and Heritage, Not for Profit and Policy. Many of the speakers who attend are York alumni and some have a research degree.
Webinars and skills workshops offer a more in-depth opportunity to find out about jobs and network with employers. Employers targeting York students have included law firms, professional services firms (consultancy, tax, accountancy), technology companies, Civil Service, McKinsey, NHS, Morgan Stanley and Accenture. Some employers will arrange presentations in academic departments – look out for information from your department.
Alumni events run by your academic department offer a chance to hear from alumni and talk informally with them.
Other career events and conferences run by your department, research councils, professional bodies and learned societies – these can offer great networking opportunities. Make sure you are a member of relevant professional bodies to gain access to external conferences and networking events.
Events organised by Careers and Placements and other external careerse events are advertised on Handshake.
The University offers support to students and recent graduates to develop their business ideas and build skills and confidence to start them. Support includes skills training, individual advice and funding to apply for. Enterprise at York has more information - note, not all schemes are appropriate for postgraduates.
Get advice from Careers and Placements
Careers and Placements offer careers advice appointments specifically for postgraduate research students These can be use for careers advice and application/interview support. Find out about these and the other appointments available to you. Appointments can be booked online via Handshake.