5 Career Paths For PhDs That Aren’t UX Research

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UX (user experience) research is a common career path for PhDs. Understandably, academics would want to apply their academic experience in one of the most direct ways possible, but user experience is not for everyone. Recently, layoffs have become more common in the tech industry, and user experience roles are sometimes one of the first to go because some businesses do not understand or recognize the value of UX.

UX was one of the primary paths I planned after academia, but I eventually found a different path in SEO. I loved the blend of creative and technical elements of SEO, and the curiosity that comes with developing a website (like the one you’re reading from right now).

Here are other options to consider outside of UX Research for both quantitative and qualitative academic backgrounds.

5 Career Paths to Consider That AREN’T UX – With Book Recommendations

Data Scientist

PhDs have several skills that align seamlessly with data science, including critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to conduct rigorous analysis. Oftentimes PhDs will use programming languages like R or Python to run analyses. At Indiana University, I worked with several grad students who were extremely skilled in quantitative analysis, but it wasn’t known as “data science.” It was just a field of work in the social or life sciences.

Moreover, their experience in handling complex data sets, formulating hypotheses, and conducting experiments equip you with a solid foundation for tackling real-world data challenges. Additionally, PhDs often have a deep understanding of specific domains, allowing you to bring valuable domain expertise to data science projects, whether in academia, industry, or research institutions.

Book Recommendations for Aspiring Data Scientists:

Market Researcher

One of the more closely aligned fields with UX is market research. Your training in research methodologies (both quantitative and qualitative) equips you with the tools to conduct thorough market analyses, identify trends, and understand consumer behavior patterns.

Moreover, PhDs often possess strong communication and presentation skills, enabling you to effectively communicate research findings to stakeholders and clients. Their ability to think critically and approach problems systematically allows you to delve deep into market dynamics, uncovering hidden opportunities and informing strategic decision-making processes.

Book Recommendations for Aspiring Market Researchers:

Science Writer / Science Communication Writer

With your PhD (most likely in the life sciences), you possess a deep understanding of scientific concepts and methodologies, allowing you to translate complex ideas into engaging and accessible content for a broad audience. Your experience in conducting research equips you with the skills to critically analyze scientific literature, distill key findings, and communicate them effectively.

Moreover, your ability to think creatively and problem-solve enables you to craft compelling narratives that resonate with readers across various platforms. By leveraging your expertise in science, you can contribute to educating and inspiring others about the wonders of the natural world, bridging the gap between scientific research and public understanding.

Book Recommendations for Aspiring Science Communication Writers:

Project Manager

Your experience in conducting research has honed your abilities in organization, time management, and problem-solving, all of which are essential for successful project management. Moreover, your background likely includes collaboration with diverse teams, communication with stakeholders, and adherence to deadlines, providing you with valuable experience in key aspects of project management.

A key importance of making the transition is understanding business goals and organizational goals. The benefit of project management is that project management skills translate across different industries and into the public and private sectors.

Book Recommendations for Aspiring Project Managers:

Content Strategist

Your background in literary analysis and critical theory equips you with the ability to interpret and synthesize complex information effectively. As a content strategist, you can leverage these skills to develop compelling narratives and messaging strategies that resonate with diverse audiences.

One of the biggest hurdles, however, is that the audience is much different than PhDs are used to. PhDs need to be aware of the brand voice they are using and how the goals of the company or organization will affect content strategy.

Your experience in crafting persuasive arguments and engaging storytelling allows you to create content that captivates readers and drives meaningful connections. Moreover, your understanding of language, tone, and style enables you to tailor content to specific audiences and platforms, maximizing its impact and reach.

Book Recommendations for Aspring Content Strategists:

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