What next for a biochemistry / physiology PhD?
March 1, 2015 5:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm a couple years off finishing a PhD that's been about half biochemistry and half electrophysiology at a top-ranked Australian university. The academic career path is definitely open to me - I've got a decent number of publications, heaps of teaching experience, blah blah blah - but I'm unsure that it's what I want to pursue.

So what are some out of the box options for me when I finish up that I might not have considered? Apart from my lab skills, I'm a great writer (at least in comparison to other scientists) and a pretty good speaker, and I have intermediate skills in analytics - I can write passably in C++ / R / Python, understand statistics and how to apply them, can work in Matlab / SPSS / whatever. My priorities for a career at this point in my life are that it be lucrative and moderately intellectually engaging - travel would be nice, also. I'm willing to look anywhere in the world!
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot to Work & Money (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think you should consider still doing a postdoc. If you're not sure if the academic path is for you, it's the best way to find out. You can still pursue other options (with more experience to boot- a higher starting salary), but once you leave the academic track, it's very difficult to go back. I was in a similar position to you and considered jobs in scientific publishing and teaching. However, I wanted to give academic research a chance, and I ended up loving my postdoc. it's not lucrative (although postdoc salaries in Australia are nearly double those in the US) but it's interesting, enjoyable, and I travel a ton.
posted by emd3737 at 12:35 AM on March 2, 2015

Best answer: Your experience in writing, communication, analytics, and your desire for travel might make you a good fit for some consulting firms. Although I'm in a completely different field, I have seen recruiters looking for PhDs in the biosciences for biotechnology business/investment consulting positions.
posted by wye naught at 7:41 AM on March 3, 2015

Best answer: Well, to better answer your question, here are some alternative careers that my former (lab based) PhD classmates have ended up in:

- consultant
- financial analyst
- patent law (employer paid for law school)
- medical writer for a biotech company
- scientific publishing (journal editor)
- clinical trials officer for a pharma company
- in-house scientific research staff for a biotech company (probably most similar to an academic research career)
- startup software company (creating software for data sharing and analysis)
- applications specialist for a company that makes life science research products

I did a traditional post-doc, but these days I am basically a project manager/technical officer working in international health/vaccine research (still in academia, though- it's not all bench work!).
posted by emd3737 at 8:05 PM on March 3, 2015

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