Six career paths for PhD graduates

Els - AcademicTransfer
18 Nov ’21

Every PhD student will ask themselves at one point: what shall I do after my PhD?

It’s worthwhile to start exploring your career options at an early stage (Why? You read it in this blog). But what are your options? And which career paths can you choose?

Several sectors are yearning for young researchers with a PhD degree. Today I would like to broaden your horizon and show you six research-focused career paths for PhD graduates in the Netherlands:

1. Postdoc - Academia

The most familiar option after your PhD is the postdoc position. This is a temporary position (1-4 years) at a research university, university medical center or research institute.

As a postdoctoral researcher you often continue researching in the same or related field as during your PhD. You expand your research experience, by working at another university, in another lab, abroad, or by using a different research method. You try something ‘new’. You will have a greater degree of independence and more responsibility than during your PhD. More postdoc fact & figures, expert advice and personal stories.

2. Researcher/consultant - Industry

As a PhD graduate you can also start working as a researcher or scientific consultant in industry. Industry companies often have a Research & Development department where they think about process and product innovation, develop new products and find solutions to practical problems. The most research is done in electronics, pharma, high tech, telecommunications, finance and insurance. More industry facts & figures, and personal stories.

3. PhD graduate lecturer - University of Applied Sciences

Another path you can choose is working at a university of applied sciences: de hogeschool. At a hogeschool research is more practice-based, that results in relevant evidence and best practices that help companies innovate and that are useful to society.

Research is done in a lectoraat, which is led by a Lector. Most of the time you start with teaching as a lecturer, and later on you can expand your research tasks and grow to researcher positions. More university of applied sciences facts & figures, expert advice and personal stories.

4. Researcher/consultant - Not-for-profit

There are several not-for-profit independent research organizations in the Netherlands, which are not part of any government, university or company and where you can start working as a researcher or scientific consultant. You can think of organizations like TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research), Sanquin (Blood bank), ECBO (Expertise Centre for Vocational Education) and HollandPTC (proton therapy center).

Job titles vary a lot in this sector, examples are: scientist, researcher, project manager, modeller, engineer, coordinator, consultant. Consider different titles when you are searching for a job. More not-for-profit facts & figures, expert advice and personal stories.

5. Researcher/consultant - Government

You can also think about a career at a governmental institution. The research they perform aims at supporting policy decisions, advising Ministries and understanding societal behaviour. Researchers, analysts and policy advisors are demanded in several disciplines, like: IT, finance, law, policy, public health, behavioural and social sciences.

Think of organizations like the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment), Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (Netherlands Institute for Social Research) or Centraal bureau voor de Statistiek (Statistics Netherlands). More government facts & figures, expert advice and personal stories.

6. Startup entrepreneur

The final option I would like to inform you about today is the entrepreneurial one. Are you working on a very innovative idea or product during your PhD and want to market it? Then think of starting your own business.

The Netherlands is one of the top 5 innovation leaders in Europe and therefore has a great startup ecosystem. You have many resources that support you with setting up your business. Your university or a university-affiliated incubator can help you with marketing the product, and they offer services like office space and financing. More entrepreneur facts & figures, expert advice and personal stories.

Please keep in mind that there are infinite career options for PhD graduates and many more than I described above. Everyone has its own career journey.

Discover your future career path

Did you know that approximately 70% of PhDs and 80% of postdocs in the Netherlands pursue non-academic career paths? Discover your options with our Career Navigator! Read personal stories from other researchers and learn from their career steps and experiences.

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