Magoosh GRE

Top PhD Graduate Jobs in the UK

| May 30, 2013

Traditionally, a PhD was a licence to teach in a university as faculty member. However, this does not mean that being a lecturer is the only path for those studying for a doctorate. Nowadays, a PhD has broader career connotations outside the academe. In fact, many of those with doctorates chose not to have academic teaching posts.[1]

The traditional view that PhD holders should enter academia is due to the fact that faculty members must be an authority figure. They must have full command and knowledge of the subject. Since a PhD is the highest degree that can be awarded, it gives credibility to the recipient in terms of possessing expertise in the subject and proves that the person is worthy of being a faculty member. It implies that the doctorate holder is in command of the field of study and can make a valuable contribution to his/her field. [2]

PhD graduate jobs in the UKThe work of an academic usually involves research, teaching, administrative and leadership responsibilities. The time spent on these roles depends on the type of institution and the nature of the job. These roles will change during various stages of an academic’s career, especially when taking on a more leadership role.[3]

Despite the common belief that doctorate holders should take on a teaching post, in recent years, there have been a growing number of PhD graduates who are pursuing careers outside academia. More and more, doctoral graduates are likely to end up in non-academic careers.[4] PhD graduates are also attractive to employers because they have many transferable skills such as self-motivation, creative thinking, problem solving ability, time management skills, and teamwork.[5]

According to Dr. Charlie Ball, co-author of the book ‘What do PhDs do?’ and a labour market analyst with the Higher Education Careers Service Unit:

‘Although research and academia are still prominent careers for PhD students, they are not as dominant as may have been believed. Nowadays, PhD graduates can move into a wide range of occupations and career sectors. More than 50 percent of them move out of the higher education sector immediately after graduating.’[6]

One main reason why a growing number of PhD students do not engage in academic careers is the extreme difficulty in obtaining a permanent university position in the UK. The academic job market is highly competitive. For many PhD graduates, they chose to a career outside the academe because these offer higher salaries and provide more job security. Moreover, non-academic careers can be just as challenging and rewarding. There is also more potential for career progression.[7]

In the UK, doctorate holders can go to to search for academic and non-academic jobs. You need to think about which companies you want to approach. There is high demand for the transferable skills that PhDs bring. You can check out non-academic post-graduate focused companies on If you are thinking of moving within Europe for a research post, you can access Euraxess promotes and supports researchers in Europe.

[1] Estelle M. Philips & Derek S. Pugh, How to get a PhD: A handbook for students and their supervisors. (Berkshire: Open University Press, 2010), 1-20

[2] Ibid.

[3] Sharples, J. (2012). Your PhD…what next? Available: Last accessed 13th Mar 2013.

[4] Lynch, S. (2007). Why PhD graduates are opting for a life in the fast lane. Available: Last accessed 13th Mar 2013.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

Category: Phd Writing