Move country to improve post-PhD career prospects, study suggests

Research finds that working overseas can boost PhD holders’ salaries 

March 1, 2017
removal men
Source: Getty

With more people opting to take PhDs, how can postgraduate researchers stand out in the job market against increasingly well-qualified competition?

The answer, according to a study conducted at University College London’s Centre for Global Higher Education, may be to move abroad. Giulio Marini, a sociologist based at the centre, focused on the careers of people with PhDs in arts, humanities and social sciences, and found that relocating to a different country was associated with higher pay.

He took data from 2,652 PhD holders across 13 European countries, and collected information about their lives and career paths, and on a range of factors relating to their PhD including subject area, university and measures of “impact”.

These impacts were the beneficial activities that candidates undertook during their PhD, such as publishing papers, giving media interviews, collaborating with non-governmental organisations or serving as a company board member. “[These] can be considered relevant as what you experience can make you more or less ‘employable’,” Dr Marini said. Analysing his data with a basic model controlling for variables such as average income in different countries, he uncovered some expected and some more surprising results.

The study supports previous research suggesting that women’s careers are negatively affected by having children, and that people on permanent contracts working outside academia typically have higher salaries. He also demonstrated that PhDs from business schools are more lucrative than those in social sciences, with arts PhDs trailing behind.

While constantly changing sector can negatively affect your career, Dr Marini reported, seeking your fortune in a different country can have a positive effect, possibly because “inflation of PhDs in some countries can be, at least partially, avoided”. His analysis also suggested that the prestige of the university at which a PhD is completed, measured using the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, while positively linked to salary, is not enormously significant.

“I think prestige is very important,” Dr Marini said. “But it is not a contradiction if it [does not play] a major role when we talk about employment outside academia.”

Most significantly, the study identified the “impact” factors that have the greatest impact on career: these experiences demonstrate being “in touch with the real world”, the study suggested. The PhD experiences that had the greatest impact on future salary were media interviews, project management, and serving as a policy adviser.

“What do you do when you [want] to win the game of life? Consider [moving to] a different country as part of the most qualified global labour force, and learn those three impacts,” Dr Marini advised.

hilary.lamb@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (2)

Where is this study? It's not actually named and I cannot see it on their website.
#1, you can find the presentation on which this article was based including slides and an audio file here: http://www.researchcghe.org/events/2017-02-09-determining-phd-holders-salaries-in-social-sciences-and-humanities-impact-counts/

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

Kenny Dalglish

Agnes Bäker and Amanda Goodall have found that academics who are happiest at work have a head of department who is a distinguished researcher. How can such people be encouraged into management?

A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump