Careers Service Occupations

Research in Academia

Research in Academia

About

Find out about careers in academia including roles available, professional bodies, and careers advice.

Careers advice

The following external websites and downloads provide careers advice about working in the sector:

Careers advice websites

The British Council EU Mobility has information for UK researchers moving to the EU, and PhDs.org Career Guides for Scientists is a US site with advice relevant to UK research scientists.

TARGETpostgrad has articles on what you can do with your PhD in academic jobs, jobs that are outside academia, or research and professional training.

In addition Vitae is a useful website, and it includes information on pursuing an academic career and career management for researchers.

Resources for download

Sector news

The United Kingdom Research Office contains sector news. 

News, funding opportunities and policy information can be found at Research.

Professional bodies

These represent and promote the interests of people working in the sector, providing services such as training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates and development for people already working in the sector.

Follow professional associations on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for useful sources of news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:

Research Councils

Research Councils UK (RCUK) are responsible for investing public money in research to advance knowledge and generate new ideas.

Making contacts

Making contacts is essential for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field are gained through networking and speculative applications. 

We've compiled a few places you could start: 

ResearchGATE

ResearchGATE is professional online network for research.

European University Institute academic careers observatory

European University Institute academic careers observatory provides information on networking and research opportunities.

Graduate Connections

Our online database, Graduate Connections, contains information about graduates who are happy to give you information and advice about the kind of work they do.

Social media 

Social media resources, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, can be useful for making contacts, following employers and finding opportunities.

You can also find out what alumni did after graduation and contact them for advice and inspiration through Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and other sector events give valuable insights and the opportunity to make useful contacts. 

Regular events for this sector are listed on the Vitae events page.  

For more events see our full list of Careers Service events and external events

For more options see our Careers Service Occupations homepage

Roles & Skills

Opportunities within academic research vary to some extent by discipline and institution.

The Guardian highlights the need to understand the specific area you want to work in the article How to break into international development

We've included links to external websites that provide descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies for the range of careers in this sector:

Higher education lecturer

Graduate teaching assistant

Research assistant

Research scientist (life sciences)

Research scientist (maths)

Research scientist (medical)

Research scientist

Social researcher

For additional information on academic roles see University of Manchester: Academic jobs and roles

Skills employers look for 

Skills employers look for include:

  • research ability and subject knowledge
  • leadership and management skills
  • networking and collaboration capability
  • presentation and communication ability
  • resilience, self-motivation and the capacity to work independently
  • time management and ability to meet deadlines

Finding Jobs

Competition for positions in this sector is strong. The majority of entry level positions within Higher Education institutions are as Research Assistants or Graduate Teaching Assistants (where you would also need to be studying for a higher level degree).

A small number of doctoral graduates and research staff go on to have a long term career in academia. However, this is highly variable by country and subject area.

Vacancy sites

North East

There are a number of North East universities that advertise academic research positions:

UK

Europe

Global (including USA)

For more vacancy sources see our Graduate Jobs section.

Finding opportunities

Not all jobs are advertised. You could also approach institutions directly or find work through networking and making contacts in the sector.

Find schools or departments that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact.

Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for, showing your enthusiasm for the school or department and highlighting any relevant skills. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Read Targetjobs website for information about speculative applications.

Use the following resources to research universities and departments for speculative applications: