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After the Shutdown: Government Demand for PhDs

Not happy with certain aspects of the US or state government?  Why not work to change it. The US government is a consistent and significant employer of PhDs across numerous academic disciplines–and it won’t always be shut down.

In 2016, there were 19.4 million employed in local and state government positions, a figure that is projected to reach 20.1 million by 2026 according to BLS data. A quick glance at USAJOBs, the official website for government positions, identifies the most urgent hiring needs in the following areas:

Of course, open positions don’t necessarily require a PhD but there are many which do. Our search of “PhD appropriate” government jobs has also yielded a number of positions across a range of disciplines, including firms which sub-contract for government services and are involved in policy advocacy or government relations.  Take a look.


Director of Federal Affairs, Americans for the Arts

Proposal Development Specialist (DfID Global Fund)

Executive Vice President, Study Abroad, CIEE

Policy/Program Specialist, Nat’l Conference of State Legislatures

Psychometrician, Clinical Quality Measures


Strategic Intelligence Analyst, National Defense

Computer Vision Product Architect, In-Q-Tel

Environmental Engineer, US Department of the Army

Astrophysicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Civil Engineer, Department of Transportation

For access to more jobs as well as archived and searchable opportunities, visit our SmartJobs page. Note: SmartJobs access requires a university affiliation. User-generated jobs are free to all members and can be accessed here.


Is your PhD ready for a start-up?


Start-ups and early stage ventures continue to be significant drivers of new employment in the US but often fall below the radar for graduates students and university career centers.  This is a gap that needs to be filled.

In 2018, nearly $100 billion was invested in early stage companies.  Since many such ventures and non-profit enterprises are focused on the cutting edge of innovation and social impact, they are naturally drawn to college graduates (over a third of start-up employees) and to those holding advanced degrees and PhDs.

If you haven’t broadened your career search in this area, now may be the time to do so. According to the chart below, start-up activity, based on a broad group of measures comprising the Start-Up Activity Index, is on the upswing from a period of relative calm.

Source: Kauffman Foundation Start-Up Activity Index

Moreover the Kauffman Foundation, a leading researcher on start-up activity and employment, notes several trends in start-up activity according to a 2017 report (the latest available):

1. There are 540,000 new business owners created each month.

2. 86.3% of this entrepreneurial activity arises from “necessity” rather than opportunity.  Immigrants account for 29.5% of new entrepreneurs.  39.5% of new entrepreneurs are female.

3. College graduates increased from 23.7% of entrepreneurs in 1996 to 30.1% in 2016. Older adults are a growing segment of new enterprise creation (26%% between ages of 45-54).

  • For more detailed trends nationally, you can refer the Foundation’s report here.

Here are a few opportunities to consider.


Global Manager, Brewing Capabilities (Food Science), ZX Ventures

Director of Product, Words with Friends (Zynga)

Director of Partnerships, Upstream

Senior Data Scientist, Juul

Lead Product Manager – Healthcare BCG Digital


Program Director, Healthcare Accelerator (Cedars Sinai)

Head of R&D (Machine Learning), Findmine

Director, Business Development, DayTwo

Sr. Data Analyst, Revenue Analytics, RentPath

Business Development Scientist – Immunology

For access to more jobs as well as archived and searchable opportunities, visit our SmartJobs page. Note: SmartJobs access requires a university affiliation. User-generated jobs are open to all members and can be accessed here.


An Aging Population Underpins Healthcare Employment


By the year 2035, older people in the US ( > 65 years) will outnumber younger people (< 18) for the first time. Net international migration is projected to be the main driver of US  population growth, while one in five people will be at retirement age. As the population ages, demand for health and wellness products, medical care and longer lives will undoubtedly increase. The starkness of this population-age change between 1960 and 2060 is illustrated by US Census Bureau projections on the left.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are practical implications for the job market: employment in healthcare and social assistance is forecast to add roughly 4 million jobs between 2016 and 2026, amounting to one-third of all new jobs in the US. And that may only be the beginning of the growth curve.
  • How will technology application, new innovations and the need to communicate with patients create new jobs in the future?  How can well-honed research skills be applied to this diverse healthcare sector? What future jobs in healthcare have yet to be created?

We provide a few examples here, but even cursory research into healthcare suggests a wide range of opportunities for PhDs exist across many disciplines.


Medicaid Researcher

Executive Director, New York HHS (Children’s Cabinet Job)

Senior Associate, Human Stewardship, Antibiotic Resistance

Real World Evidence Data Scientist, Astra Zeneca

Healthcare Communications, Practice Leader


Senior Data Scientist, Strava

Director, Patient Advocacy

Senior Analyst, Population Health Analytics

Senior Intellectual Property Manager, Pharma

Medical Director, Hematology

For access to more jobs as well as archived and searchable opportunities, visit our SmartJobs page. Note: SmartJobs access requires a university affiliation. User-generated jobs are open to all members and can be accessed here.

Transferring your statistical skills toward another career path

Statisticians represent one the fastest growing areas of work in the US.  Between 2016 and 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that new positions will increase by more than 33%, just behind certain health care and alternative energy occupations. But even more important is that the demand for professionals (with a PhD) who can demonstrate knowledge of statistical methods is on the rise.


Consider a few more points from a recent article at QZ:

* LinkedIn lists “statistical analysis and data mining” as the second-most important skill companies are looking for in 2018.

* The American Statistical Association says that there will probably still not be enough statisticians to meet demand from employers, stretching well into the 2020s.

  • * Compensation for statistical and data analysis skills for many jobs is highly competitive.

To find specific examples, we include below a representative cluster of jobs that either requires or prefers candidates with statistical skills and data analytics capabilities. Our latest dive into existing job opportunities suggests that the applications of such skills cuts across a wide range of industries, disciplines and geographies.


Partner Strategist, Latin America, Facebook

Researcher, Riot Games

Economist, US Department of Transportation

Data Scientist, Diversity and Inclusion

Computational Social Scientist, Gallup


Bioinformatics and Data Scientist for Public Health

Artificial Intelligence Senior Consultant

Senior Data Scientist, McKinsey Academy

Head of Regulatory Affairs, Health/Life Science

Senior Data Scientist, Spotify


For access to more jobs as well as archived and searchable opportunities, visit our SmartJobs page. 

Applying your research acumen outside the academy

Is academia the only place to deploy your research skills? Certainly not.  For some, it may not even be the best place to pursue career research interests.  A recent Dutch survey found that roughly half of university researchers complained that they were not doing as much research in their job as they were promised.

But whether inside or outside of academia, there exists deep demand for PhD-level research methods, domain expertise and analytical skills.  In the private sector, the field of market research–in its various incarnations–is one area of work that increasingly requires deeper levels of evidenced-based marketing, survey construction, behavioral science applications and data visualization.  With an estimated employment of 288,432 and projected job growth of 23.2% over 10 years, this should be good news for PhDs and post-docs.

                                    Source: DataUSA

Below are examples of several market research positions in the private sector. Included is a range of Humanities, Social Science and STEM disciplines from quantitative education research to media analytics, Big Data and health economic outcomes.


Research Director, Consumer

Director, Quantitative Insights & Strategy

Data Analyst, Quantitative Research- Education Practice Area

Director – Media Analytics

Director of Market and Consumer Research


NLP Scientist

Director, Patient Marketing for Sickle Cell Disease

Senior Director, Strategy and Operations Storage and Big Data

Sr. Manager Global Health Economics & Outcomes Research

Director, Business Development, Genome Ctr.

For access to more jobs as well as archived and searchable opportunities, visit our SmartJobs page. 


Integrating a Financial Plan with Your Career Development

Do you have a clear and intelligent financial plan as part of your PhD or post-doc program? What if you don’t? It is never too early, or too late, to start.

From planning for a potential post-graduation lapse in employment, to moving and taxation, lifestyle changes, student loans, savings plans and salary negotiation, Dr. Emily Roberts, Founder of Personal Finance for PhDs, has answers.

First, listen to a recording of VPhD’s webinar and AMA Forum event “Post-PhD Financial Success: How to Prepare for and Navigate Your Transition”. Then browse through (and ask!) questions directly to Dr. Roberts on our Forums AMA page. (If you are not yet a member of VPhD, it’s free for AMAs.)

Dr Roberts has also provided a follow-up Action Item list.  Download it here

Green PhDs: Jobs in the Environmental Sector

Water. Climate. Disease. Conservation.  Applying your expertise and skills to the vast needs of the environmental sector, and its various constituencies, can offer a meaningful and sustainable career path.

According to a recent report on “Green Growth” by the OECD, up to 20 million jobs will be created by 2030 worldwide based on developments within the clean energy sector alone, and that figure does not begin to address the many other “green” jobs available for those with PhDs and advanced degrees in research, advocacy, engineering and development roles.

Highlighted below is a small cluster of jobs in the environmental sector ranging from environmental consultants and engineers, ecologists, bio-statisticians, geologists and toxicologists, to policy directors, research associates, editors, and consultants.  It’s an area of work that increasingly demands a wide range of transferable skills, applies to many fields, and has a large representation of PhDs across the humanities, social sciences and STEM specialties.


Officer, Conservation Science (Economics)

Frontier Group Policy Analyst

Development Officer for Environment California

Program Officer – Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice

Forestry Program Officer, American Carbon Registry



Senior Scientist, Marine Stress and Ocean Health Program 

Water/Wastewater Project Manager

Officer, Conservation Science (Terrestrial Ecosystems)

For access to these jobs as well as archived and searchable opportunities, visit our SmartJobs page.