Non-Academic Jobs for PhDs

There are many career fields that benefit from the knowledge and research skills that individuals with a PhD have developed through their training. This article looks at careers in social science, law, healthcare and other fields for PhDs.

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Options for Non-Academic Careers for PhDs

There are a number of occupations outside of the academic field that require or benefit from completing studies to earn a PhD. Individuals who have a high level of training may be able to compete more effectively for jobs or they may have more professional opportunities available to them, such as working overseas.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Economists $101,050 6%
Historians $55,110 5%
Sociologists $79,750 0%
Anthropologists and Archeologists $63,190 3%
Mathematicians and Statisticians $81,950 33%
Curators $53,360 14%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Information for Non-Academic Careers for PhDs


Economists specialize in research and are most commonly employed by the government or by research companies. They focus on understanding current trends involving resources and product distribution and other factors that can impact the economy. Their work enables them to project periods of growth and decline. A PhD is necessary to pursue many positions in this field and those who have a PhD but do not want to work in the academic field may find this to be a good career option.


Historians typically spend most of their career studying events from the past. The work they do can be used to help governments assess the value of policies or programs; historians commonly work for the government. Although it's possible to start out in a career as a historian with a master's degree, a PhD is necessary to qualify for advanced research jobs.


Sociologists focus on understanding how people's behavior is affected by society. They perform research that's intended to increase their understanding of how different groupings, such as cultures, shape individuals and their communities. Although a master's degree may be sufficient for entry-level jobs in sociology, a PhD may be required for some positions and may appeal to employers. Sociologists primarily work for research companies or government agencies.

Anthropologists and Archeologists

Anthropologists and archeologists are required to have a master's degree in their field to obtain entry-level employment. A PhD is necessary for those who want to pursue opportunities to work overseas or lead research projects. Anthropologists and archeologists are both involved in studying the development of human civilizations. Archeologists focus more on historic artifacts and sites while anthropologists look at how things like cultures and languages have developed.

Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians are highly trained mathematical experts who use formulas and calculations to prove theories or identify ways to address specific problems. They typically work for the government or in fields such as insurance. Although mathematicians and statisticians normally only need a master's degree, advanced studies may be an asset. Individuals with a PhD in a related field may find that they can pursue a number of career options including mathematical research.


Curators commonly work for museums and are responsible for buying or borrowing items for display. Their duties can also involve determining the value of works of art and conducting research. The normal qualifications for this field include earning a master's degree. Since there is a lot of competition for the best jobs in this field those who have earned a PhD may be able to compete more effectively for those positions.

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