What Can You Do With a PhD?

What Can You Do With a PhD?

Higher Ed

Are you thinking of earning a PhD but not sure where to start or what to expect? Before you apply to any PhD program, it’s important to know what a doctoral education involves and what it can lead to. A PhD signifies mastery of one’s chosen discipline. Business, science, technology, language, and history – these are just a few of the many fields you can earn a PhD in.

But to earn a PhD requires countless hours of research and writing before being elevated to doctoral status. And what type of job you want to pursue after you graduate all depends on what you’re trying to achieve in the field. You can embark upon hundreds of career paths, with the most common listed below:

Become a Professor

Teaching is a dominate career path among PhD holders. A PhD often qualifies graduates to teach at the university level. Not all schools require applicants to have a PhD, but many do, especially if you want to teach at a four-year college as opposed to a community college. Teaching at the university level requires a real passion for learning and a desire to share your knowledge with others. If teaching is your passion, you might want to consider working as a graduate or doctoral assistant in order to gain experience in the classroom. Working as a graduate teaching assistant is excellent first step towards becoming a professor while earning your PhD.

Conduct Research

Many people use their PhD experience to conduct research outside of the classroom. For example, if you have a PhD in chemical engineering, you might find employment doing research for the Department of Defense or for a private engineering firm. Researchers are needed to explore key issues in a variety of different areas, so if you’re passionate about a particular subject and want to make a significant impact in your field, working as a researcher might be an option worth considering. Additionally, using a PhD to enter into the private sector is often much more lucrative than the public. Depending on what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish with this degree, there are many different options for how the degree can be applied.

Join the Workforce

Not all PhD holders go on to become professors and researchers. Many opt to enter the workforce as a consultant, policy analyst, program manager, CEO, CFO, the list goes on and on. The corporate, non-profit, and government worlds need PhD holders to assume high-level positions. Opportunities vary according to your discipline, but many exciting and rewarding positions exist in the workforce for PhD holders. No matter what, a doctoral degree will increase your chances of employment and advancement.

Other Job Options for PhD Graduates

If teaching or working in research is not what you have in mind, but you still want to earn a PhD, there are other options to consider. Of course, what job you pursue depends on your area of discipline. Take a look at the list below to discover what other job opportunities are available for PhD holders:

  • Public Speaker
  • Writer/Publisher
  • Training and Development
  • Translation
  • Healthcare
  • Chief Scientist
  • Anthropologist
  • University Dean

The bottom line is that while teaching and conducting research are the dominate activities for PhD holders, you can use your degree to pursue a variety of different jobs. If you know a PhD is in your future but not sure where you see your career going, why not visit your career center at school or set up a meeting to discuss your options with a professor a job counselor. It’s important to have some idea of what you want to do. Earning a PhD takes a lot of time, and money, so before you invest your time and your dollars into a program, consider your employment options and choose one right for you. As a crowning achievement in academia and a significant way to legitimize yourself, a PhD is a great way to rise to the top of your chosen field and become someone regarded in your profession.

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