Non-academic Careers

In Germany, a doctorate qualifies graduates for a variety of jobs both within and outside Academia (Nacaps data portal of the German Center for Higher Education Research and Science studies).

The preference for the career path is determined, among other things, by the doctoral subject.

A career outside academia is the rule rather than the exception, and certainly not a "plan B".


Tips for finding suitable job area and employers:


  • Insights into different fields of work and career biographies of doctoral graduates are provided by the following brochures "Perspektiven nach der Promotion. Career paths outside academia: 13 portraits" (German only) and "Employers in conversation" (German only).
  • Ask yourself. Which activities during your doctorate and postdoc period were you best at and where are they needed? Instructing students? Doing research? Programming? Writing? Organizing? Create project plans? Give presentations?
  • Who might be interested in your technical or methodological expertise? Companies? Government agencies?
  • Where do alumni from your field work? Ask them about their experiences.
  • Use your contacts in your field.

Otto von Guericke University offers doctoral students and postgraduates various opportunities to find out about career fields and application strategies or to receive individual advice:


Immediately after the PhD or in the early postdoc phase (i.e., the first year or two years after completing the PhD) are a good time to change career fields. Sometimes a longer postdoc experience in academia is also useful for a leadership position in research and development in industry. However, it is then significant that you have taken on leadership responsibility for projects and people and also worked on relevant new topics. In most cases, the less complicated the transition after a PhD or postdoc, the better. If you stay in science for a longer period of time, you will have to ask yourself whether applying outside is really your first choice or rather a compromise solution.


For some companies, biological age also plays a role. For example, some companies name an age limit of 35 years, above which they would hardly hire people coming from science. Adjusting to a new way of working and company culture is usually harder the older someone is.


Once you know you won't stay in science permanently, then go for the transition. However, each year of working within science should be rewarding for you by learning something that will be of use to you outside, or because you enjoy the current work so much.


Last Modification: 17.01.2024 - Contact Person: Webmaster