Around 75% of Early Career Researchers aspire to an academic career. But, as we all know, it’s much tougher than it used to be, and many people will have to pursue different paths. If you’re going to compete in a crowded marketplace, make sure it’s really what you want to.

These 10 questions from Jobs on Toast can help you think through the implications of staying in academia:

  1. What does success in my academic job search look like? What will achieving this goal give me?
  2. Do I know and accept the current odds of getting an academic job in my field of application?
  3. Am I prepared to take jobs that pay me less than I am worth for a number of years, in order to stay in the game?
  4. Am I prepared to work in a number of temporary posts in different locations, until I find something permanent?
  5. Do I fully appreciate the demands of a permanent academic post and the expected work-life balance?
  6. Have I fully considered the range of career options open to me, and concluded that the academic route is still definitely my preferred choice over all the alternatives?
  7. How does this decision impact upon my child(ren), or on my plans to start a family, or on my desire to have another child?
  8. What does my partner feel about my search?
  9. What do my parents or guardians feel about my search?
  10. What other options does pursuing an academic career search narrow down for me?

Staying in Academia

If you decide to stay in academia, you’ll be committing to building and maintaining a strong research profile. This guide from Dr Sara Shinton helps you devise an effective strategy.

To find out more about what it takes to become a top academic, visit this excellent resource from the University of Manchester.

And there are lots of resources available from Vitae on pursuing an academic career.

In this video, Paddy Hadoke talks about becoming a senior academic fellow and developing his own research team:

Leaving Academia

Of those people who move beyond academia, 75% are satisfied with their decision. And many report that they’re still able to carry out research. Here are some of the top reasons for leaving academia behind:

  • Better long-term employment prospects
  • More job security
  • Aversion to short/fixed-term contracts
  • Better work/life balance

From What Do Research Staff Do Next? (Vitae)

Once you’ve made your decisions, there are a couple of challenges to face:

1. What do you do instead?

To consider your options, go to the What do you Want? page and work through the exercises. You’ll also find links to guides on becoming an employee outside academia, a consultant, a freelancer, or an entrepreneur.

2. What are your transferable skills?

You might think that you’re only qualified to be an academic researcher, but the What Have You Got? page will help you think about your broader skills.