Career paths for doctors

The instruction belongs to the following themes

By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content. You do not have to select a degree programme to see the Open University's instructions.

It is good to think about your post-dissertation career already at the beginning of your postgraduate studies, even if it feels like it is far away in the future. For example, it is recommended that transferable skills studies are completed in fields that interest you and best support your future plans.

Where to after the doctoral dissertation?

Even though the higher education sector continues to be the largest employer of doctoral graduates, there are currently many other opportunities as well. In addition to universities, researchers and specialists are needed, for example, in research institutes and corporate R&D teams. Besides the private sector, doctoral graduates’ expertise is also needed in the public sector, government and municipalities. In many sectors, establishing your own business is a noteworthy alternative.

Since the scope of career options for doctors is extensive, it is recommended that you consider at an early stage what kinds of work in particular interest you. What are your strengths? What kinds of competence have you gained during your doctoral studies? What kinds of duties most appeal to you? It is also important to be aware of all the various options: Do you know alumni who have graduated from your doctoral programme and do you know where they now work? More information about where doctoral graduates in your field are employed is available in the results of the University’s career monitoring (in Finnish only).

You can get advice on career planning from your supervisor and advisory committee. You should also participate in career planning and alumni events organised by your doctoral programme and the doctoral school. You can also get support for planning your career from the University’s Career Services, all the services provided by which are freely available to all doctoral students.

You can use the instructions drawn up by Career Services to map out your personal career path.

Entering academia

After the completion of the doctoral degree, a traditional and natural way to continue research pursuits is as a postdoctoral researcher at a university. It is recommended that postdoctoral researchers consider moving away from their home university, preferably even abroad, to pursue their career, since relocating to another university helps to build new networks and gain a fuller understanding of the opportunities in the field.

The critical task at the postdoctoral stage is securing funding. You can seek funding from various foundations, the Foundations’ Post Doc Pool and the Academy of Finland. The Aurora database maintained by the University of Turku lists current Finnish funding opportunities in various disciplines.

Once doctors acquire more experience as researchers, new opportunities will also emerge for permanent teacher and researcher positions at the University. However, you should be aware that getting a permanent position at the University may take years.

Outside academia

Only some of the individuals with doctoral degrees continue their career as researchers at universities. This is partly due to the scarcity of research positions at universities. On the other hand, a research career at a university may not even be the most interesting or best option for all doctoral graduates.

If you are specifically aiming to be a researcher, it is good to remember that in most cases universities are not the only place where research in your field is conducted. For example, research institutes, the public sector, private companies, associations and foundations provide employment opportunities for many. In addition to a research career, a doctoral degree gives you excellent prerequisites for many other demanding expert duties – by planning your studies with your future career in mind, you can develop your expertise in your desired direction.