Postdocs | Career planning after the PhD

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What comes next after the doctorate?

A doctorate opens up a wide range of career opportunities inside and outside of academia. If you decide to pursue an academic career, you will usually take a postdoc position at a department or start your career in a research project. Your focus is now primarily on sharpening your research profile and advancing your scholarly independence.

The postdoc phase is very individual. It is often an excellent opportunity to gain experience abroad or get to know other research institutions in Germany. As a postdoc, you should carefully consider your career options and reflect on your plans with peers and experienced researchers. Of course, the GC Plus team is available for advice as well.

Career paths at a glance

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Academic career

An academic career usually leads to a professorship through several stages. The professorship is often the first permanent position, while intermediate positions in the postdoc phase are typically temporary. Permanent jobs in the mid-level faculty, e.g., as an academic advisor, are pretty rare.

The academics.de online guide provides a good overview of the stages of an academic career and valuable information on the chances of success and requirements.

Science management

Science management is a relatively new professional field at German universities and research institutions. Science managers steer and coordinate tasks as research officers or managing directors of research centres, graduate centres, or research training groups.

You can find a more detailed overview of the fields of activity and requirements on academics.de.

Universities of applied sciences (UAS)

Universities of applied sciences have a practice-oriented approach to teaching and research. They are organized partly by the state and the private sector. Often, they have a specific focus (e.g., business). With usually 18 semester hours, the teaching load for professors is twice as high as at universities. That is why UAS are particularly attractive to people who enjoy teaching. Experience in business is an additional requirement for those professorships.

Learn more at academics.de.

Non-university research institutions

Non-university research institutions are attractive for postdocs who want to focus on research. Those institutions offer excellent research conditions, international teams, and various funding programmes. Postdoctoral positions at non-university research institutions are usually limited to two to three years. For a successful application, you must demonstrate excellent scientific achievements.

Further information can be found in the online guide at academics.de.

Companies and public institutions

With a doctoral degree, you are very well qualified for management tasks in companies and public institutions, thanks to specialist expertise and interdisciplinary competencies. The research departments of many companies offer attractive entry-level opportunities. Furthermore, the private sector is increasingly focusing on research and development to ensure its future viability. Public institutions such as foundations, government agencies, or NGOs often expect practical experience in the respective field in addition to qualifications.

Read more:

Start-up

Numerous innovations at universities and research institutions have the potential to be marketed for the general public. If you want to implement your own idea and work in a self-determined manner, founding a company or a start-up can be an attractive opportunity after your doctorate. GUIDE, the Center for Start-ups and Innopreneurship at the University of Duisburg-Essen, will accompany you with information and guidance.

Career counselling and events

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Personal counselling

Which career goal suits me, and how can I prepare myself? We invite you to take advantage of an individual counselling session or join our career events for doctoral researchers under the umbrella of the Research Academy Ruhr.

  • The professors at the UDE are competent contacts for subject-specific advice on all aspects of career planning.
  • Here you can find an overview of our interdisciplinary counselling services.
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Karriereforum

Taking the next steps in your postdoctoral career, the Karriereforum provides you with hands-on experience: For one day, renowned experts will offer input on university and non-university research careers or aspects of research funding, and answer your questions.

You can also get advice on personal career strategies one on one during confidential consultations.

Learn more here

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Wirtschaftskolleg

Wirtschaftskolleg offers you first-hand information and insights on career opportunities in business and society once a year.

Discuss with guests from the private sector, industry, public service, foundations, and non-profit organizations in a casual atmosphere.

Learn more

Helpful links

Career and job portals

  • academics.de
    Job postings in research and development as well as information on career topics for academics (job search, application, career paths).
  • Academic Positions
    Job portal and international career network for researchers
  • DUZ Wissenschaftskarriere
    Career portal of the German university newspaper with job advertisements from research and beyond
  • myScience
    Information and job portal for academics and international researchers
  • Research in Germany
    Here you will find, among other things, a comprehensive overview of non-university research institutions in Germany.

Literature

  • Konsortium Bundesbericht Wissenschaftlicher Nachwuchs: Bundesbericht Wissenschaftlicher Nachwuchs 2021. Statistische Daten und Forschungsbefunde zu Promovierenden und Promovierten in Deutschland. Zur Online-Version
  • UniWiND e.V.: Nach der Promotion: Übergang zur Postdoc-Phase und in den außeruniversitären Arbeitsmarkt. Unterstützungsangebote an Universitäten und Handlungsempfehlungen zur Förderung des Karriereübergangs. UniWiND-Publikationen Bd. 3/2014. Download (PDF).
  • UniWiND e.V.: Perspektiven nach der Promotion. Berufswege außerhalb der Wissenschaft. Teil 1: 13 Porträts & Teil 2: Arbeitgeber im Gespräch. UniWiND-Spezial 2018. Download: www.uniwind.org/publikationen/publikationsreihe/