Career prospects

Research has shown that 80% of the PhD candidates aspire a career in science after their promotion. However, for only 20% of all doctoral students an appointment at the university is a possibility, another 10% is in research-related positions outside the university. The remaining 70% will end in positions in business, or for the government.

The competition for an appointment at the university after the promotion is huge! Only a few PhD candidates directly get offered an appointment at the university. The most logical step is to apply for a post-doc position. This is a temporary position for 2-4 years, focused on a specific research topic. Besides applying for a post-doc feature it is possible to write a grant application, and thus create your own appointment. For beginning doctorates the most common grants are the Rubicon, to gain experience to another (foreign) institution, and the VENI, where you do a proposal for post-doctoral research. Also for grants, the competition is fierce. For more information check out our vacancy page.

In addition to a career in science, a career outside science an option after the promotion. For example, you can think of policy positions in government and management and consulting positions in business. If you already know you want to continue in business during your promotion, it helps you to orientate during your PhD project, and where possible expand your network. Many companies in the Netherlands do not immediately see the added value of a doctoral degree, above a master’s degree. However, remember that PhD candidates generally have excellent analytical and organizational skills and have learned to present their research. You did successfully complete a complex project!

Dat de meeste promovendi goed terechtkomen blijkt uit het feit dat van de 60 duizend gepromoveerden die Nederland in de periode 2007/2010 rijk was, meer dan 80 procent een baan op wetenschappelijk niveau heeft. Onder niet-gepromoveerde academici is dit iets meer dan de helft. Daarnaast is er onder gepromoveerden een hogere arbeidsparticipatie en werken gepromoveerden vaker voltijds dan niet-gepromoveerden. Voor meer informatie zie: CBS.

Career prospects are not always as good as you would like them to be

Generally, PhD Candidates expect that with four years of experience with doctoral research their career prospects improve compared to the period immediately after their graduation. Especially for doctoral students in the ‘HOOP-areas’ Economics, Law, Behaviour and Society, Language and Culture, this is only the case when PhD candidates gained general skills interesting to potential employers, along with specific knowledge in their field of research. PNN is committed to providing opportunities for PhD candidates to develop this general skills and to create opportunities for PhD candidates to get in touch with potential employers.

For PhD candidates in the areas Agriculture, Nature, Technology, and Health, there is generally more supply of specific, often R&D-related positions, outside of academia (Quick-scan Young Talent in Science). The Dutch government should support the importance of this group of highly qualified young researchers, in part due to their contribution to the growth of the Dutch knowledge economy, and actively ensure the development of transferable skills and career opportunities for PhD graduates.

The FNV has published a brief overview of recent developments in this area as a result of their study "Arbeidsmarktperspectief hoger onderwijs" (Labour market perspective in Higher Education)

Only 20% of the PhD Candidates find a job in science

PhD candidates make up about 35% of the academic staff. Within this group, the universities aren’t able to offer career prospects for 80% (see this article from Statistics Netherlands) . Besides the responsibility of the PhD Candidates, it is also the responsibility of universities to provide the proper information concerning career prospects and also provide courses and the time to develop transferable skills.

Many employers outside academia appreciate PhD Candidates because of their specific knowledge and skills in a specific discipline, while PhD Candidates are foremost a group of highly talented individuals who possess a broad range of versatile skills, or transferable skills.

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Meer weten? Neem contact op met Lotte Weedage voor advies.

Lotte Weedage

Secretary and vice chair