Career pathways for Ph.D. scientists
Ph.D. scientists pursue a wide variety of career paths, contributing to science in diverse ways.
In this section
- Navigating career pathways - Explore the many career options for Ph.D. scientists in the 8 broad career pathways in the left menu, including example job titles and resources for getting training and experience
- Consider thinking outside of the pathway - Examples of following your passions to create unique career opportunities that sometimes forge new career paths
- Career profiles of Ph.D. scientists - Read about and watch Ph.D. scientists' personal accounts of their career paths and how they navigated career transitions
Career exploration is an ongoing, work-in-progress process. This article and tool from UCSF offers a practical guide to tackling career exploration.
We have grouped the array of common research and research-related career options for Ph.D. scientists into eight broadly defined pathways:
- Research in academia & government
- Research in industry
- Business & commercial development
- Academic & research administration
- Policy, legal & regulatory affairs
- Public health, medical testing & patient care
- Science education & outreach
- Science communication & publishing
For each pathway we provide: example job titles, additional key search terms, and resources for getting and staying up to speed on the pathway, building your network, and getting pathway-specific training and experience
Job titles with an asterisk (*) are commonly used by employers in different ways and therefore can fall in a number of pathways.
Note that the job titles in these pathways represent common science-related career options for Ph.D. scientists, but not all of the careers listed require a Ph.D.
Letting your interests and passions guide you towards a rewarding career can pay off and occasionally lead to forging new career paths or job titles that don't naturally fit in existing career pathway categories.
Here are a few examples for inspiration, along with the job titles/organizations/fields they've helped to create:
- Science animator, Dr. Janet Iwasa
- Science facilitator and social entrepreneur, Dr. Nina Dudnik, Founder & CEO, Seeding Labs
- Biological designer, Synthetic Aesthetics
- Science comedian, Dr. Tim Lee, Dr. Joe Wong, and more!
- Science storyteller, Dr. Ben Lillie & Dr. Brian Wecht, Co-Founders, Story Collider
- Read career profiles of Ph.D. scientists courtesy of the Career Perspectives blog of the American Society for Cell Biology COMPASS (Committee for Postdocs and Students)
- Watch interviews of Ph.D. scientists describing their current careers and how they navigated their career transitions from Vanderbilt University
- The Industry Exploration Program (IndEx) profiles UMMS alumni who successfully transitioned to industry careers.
- Check out how recent UMMS student alumni used UMMS resources to successfully make varied career transitions from UMassMedNow.
- Students and postdocs: work with us to develop career profiles featuring UMMS alumni!