Should I stay or should I go?
You are probably considering whether or not to stay with your specialism, remain in academia, or aim for something new. These are all common dilemmas and itís worth weighing up the pros and cons of each option.
- If you have a masters degree, then depending upon the subject area, you can either opt to stay in research or apply for a job. You may consider undertaking a PhD to develop your knowledge in your subject and improve your prospects if you are interested in a research career. If not, you can consider what career options are open to you and you can check out the range of options on our webpages or visit the Careers Service to help with this decision.
- After a PhD, if you want to stay within research and academia, you are most likely to be offered a postdoc position, and as these are usually short-term contracts, this can mean a interesting but rather insecure career path. It is worth noting that the number of permanent opportunities for researchers or academics within higher education is much lower than it used to be. Many people opt to do one or two post-doc positions and then move on to research externally or into a different career. A small percentage are fortunate enough to be offered permanent posts within academia. If you do want to stay, then make sure you have a clear strategy for managing your career, developing your skills and marketing yourself effectively so that you can make the most of opportunities that arise. You may need to be flexible in terms of location if you want to progress your career.
- Working in higher education can offer greater freedom and flexibility in working hours, working environment, the type of research undertaken and there are fewer publishing restrictions, but you may become more specialised and have less opportunity to develop other skills (although times are changing - staff development here at Bristol run a variety of training courses for Research Staff (RS) which range from teaching through to management training). The pay and prospects for promotion and skills development are usually better in commercial research and work is usually more varied, team based and often involves multiple projects and shorter deadlines than in academic research. Your research may be confidential however, therefore you may not be able to publish so freely. In academic research you have great freedom as long as you can find funding, whereas in contrast, applied research is usually conducted where funding is attached to a clear goal.
- Alternatively, you may opt to leave research. You may be able to use your specialist knowledge in a non research role or alternatively, look at making the transition into a new career. The following links are useful: