Leaving Academia? Here Are Some Career Options as a PhD

Salah Uddin Mahdi

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Why Leave a Career in Academia as a PhD?
  • Why having a clear career goal is important?
  • Career Opportunities as PhD Graduate Outside Academia
  • Working in Private Corporations
  • Trying Out a Career in Industry
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Career Options Based on Your Discipline
  • PhD in Biological and Medical Sciences
  • PhD in Chemical Sciences
  • PhD in Maths and Computing
  • PhDs in Engineering
  • PhD in Social Science
  • PhD in the Arts and Humanities
  • PhD in Business Studies
  • Final Thoughts


As a PhD, the academic world can be all-encompassing; your life is filled with reading, researching, and writing, all in pursuit of the peak of academic prestige: being published in a peer-reviewed journal. But what happens when you realize that academia isn’t what you thought it would be or that you’re no longer passionate about working in the ivory tower?

It’s understandable to have doubts; it can be a tough and scary decision to leave academia behind. But don’t fret! Leaving academia doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In fact, it can many times lead to bigger and better things. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the various career opportunities available to those who have a PhD and are ready to take the next step in their professional journey.

Why Leave a Career in Academia as a PhD?

Leaving academia is a decision that many PhD graduates contemplate, and there are several reasons why this path may be appealing. The academic job market can be highly competitive, with a limited number of tenure-track positions available. The pressure to publish extensively and secure research funding can be overwhelming. Moreover, the pursuit of an academic career often comes with geographical constraints, as you may need to relocate for specific job opportunities. Additionally, some PhD graduates may find that their interests and skills align better with careers beyond academia. These factors, among others, can make leaving academia an attractive option for many.

First, it’s important to understand why someone might choose to leave academia as a PhD Often, it could be because of factors such as the lack of tenure-track jobs, a competitive academic environment, or even mental health struggles. Completing a PhD dissertation is a significant milestone in achieving academic excellence. Regardless of the reason, you should always follow your heart when making the decision to leave academia.

Why having a clear career goal is important?

Before we dive into the various career opportunities for PhD holders, let’s address the importance of having a clear career goal. It is essential that upon leaving the familiarity of academia, you have a well-researched plan about what you want to do next. Leaving without a clear goal can make the transition much more difficult than necessary. Take time to investigate career opportunities and seek advice from other PhD holders who have made the switch to a non-academic job.

Career Opportunities as PhD Graduate outside Academia

  • Working in Private Corporations

Private corporations such as consulting agencies, research firms, and publishing houses value individuals with advanced research and analysis skills. Your PhD experience has honed your ability to delve into complex material and devise innovative solutions—skills that are highly prized by these corporations.

However, you might face the challenge of explaining to non-academics how your PhD is relevant to their business, so make sure to identify a few key skills, such as project management experience, knowledge of data analytics, or research skills, that these businesses could find helpful.

  • Trying Out a Career in Industry

The transition from academia to industry is becoming common in recent years. Companies from tech giants to data analysis firms are open to hiring PhD graduates because of their advanced research skills and analytical abilities. For example, many PhD holders are found working as data analysts to help make meaning and decisions based on large data sets.

  • Entrepreneurship

Embarking on your entrepreneurial journey requires courage, and your advanced analytical and research skills give you a distinct advantage over other entrepreneurs. While starting your own business involves taking a leap of faith, it can lead to incredible rewards and personal fulfillment.

Career Options Based on Your Discipline

PhD jobs outside of academia vary depending on the field of study. Below you will find a list of prominent fields of study for PhD holders and some career options available outside academia.

PhD in Biological and Medical Sciences: If you have pursued PhD in a biological or related discipline, then you can try out your career in:

Careers in pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology firms, medical writing, science communication, and regulatory affairs are common options for graduates in these fields.

PhD in Chemical Sciences: If you have pursued PhD in chemical sciences, then you can try out your career as a chemical engineer, process engineer, and materials scientist. Moreover, research and development roles in industries such as cosmetics, food, and energy can also be pursued by Ph.D. graduates in chemical sciences.

PhD in Math and Computing: If you have pursued PhD in Maths, computing, or a related discipline, then opportunities in data science, artificial intelligence, software development, consulting, finance, and cryptography are available for PhD graduates with a strong background in mathematics and computing.

PhD in Engineering: Holders of PhD in Engineering or related subject areas have the following career options research and development, project management, consulting, and technical leadership roles in industries such as aerospace, automotive, construction, and telecommunications.

PhD in Social Science: Graduates in social sciences can find rewarding careers in market research, policy analysis, consulting, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and think tanks, where their research and analytical skills are highly valued.

PhD in the Arts and Humanities: PhD holders in the arts and humanities can pursue careers in publishing, journalism, cultural institutions, museums, public relations, and consulting, leveraging their critical thinking and communication abilities. Moreover, you can also try out your career in the writing and education sector. For example, you can work for a company offering Dissertation Writing Service like Phddissertation.co.uk. These jobs offer good money and are widely liked by students.

PhD in Business Studies: Graduates with a PhD in business studies can explore careers in corporate training, management consulting, market research, and strategic planning, where their expertise in organizational behavior and management theories can be applied.

Final Thoughts

Leaving academia as a PhD graduate opens up a world of possibilities and diverse career paths. It’s essential to approach this transition with a clear career goal in mind so you can explore different opportunities. Embrace your unique skills and expertise as you navigate the professional landscape.

Now that you’ve completed your PhD, you have valuable skills that many industries are looking for. It’s time to leave the familiar academic world behind and embrace exciting new challenges and opportunities. Get ready to explore new possibilities and start your thrilling new adventure today!

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