Written by: Tavis Mendez, Ph.D.
I love being a scientist.
But, getting up in the morning and heading into the lab has always been a hassle for me.
I am also quite introverted and prefer being by myself most of the time.
During my PhD, the days I enjoyed most were the ones when I could stay home and focus on writing articles and mining through data.
It was wonderful not having to stand at the lab bench all day.
But, as a scientist, wasn’t I supposed to love bench work?
Was I going to have to keep doing the bench work I hated if I wanted to stay in science?
It seemed like the only option for me after my PhD was to become a postdoc and do more bench work.
This idea caused me stress and anxiety.
I didn’t want to stay in academia, but I wasn’t sure what else to do.
I decided to go to a networking event to explore my career options outside of academia.
At the event, I met someone who was working in the sciences, at home, on her own schedule.
It sounded amazing.
I set up an informational interview with this new connection, and realized that there are many alternative careers available to PhDs, including working remotely.
It was clear to me now, I was going to leave academia and get an industry position where I could work from the comfort of my home.
Surprisingly, I managed to successfully network as a quiet introverted PhD and secure a job referral.
After a series of interviews, I was able to find a job perfectly suited to me.
My new job allowed me to work from home, doing what I love.
Why Work-From-Home Jobs Are A Great Option For PhDs
The Internet has changed, and continues to change, our society.
According to a study by CISCO, reported in The Huffington Post, there are currently 3 billion unique Internet users around the world and this number is expected to rise to 4.1 billion by 2020.
The Internet is a driving factor in economic growth, and as more and more people are using the Internet, its contribution to the economy will continue to increase.
But, not only is the Internet driving the economy, it’s changing the way people work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38% of people in leadership and managerial positions reported working remotely some or all of the time.
As a PhD, you are well-suited to leadership roles, making remote work a definite possibility for your future.
Working remotely is increasing in popularity, with many large companies offering telecommute opportunities.
A survey by Flexjobs found that 68% of respondents expect to work remotely in the future.
If working remotely appeals to you, there are plenty of options available now, and even more are likely to appear in the future.
But what PhD industry careers are the most well-suited for remote work?
Top Jobs For PhDs To Work From Home
A remote job gives you the freedom to choose where you work.
You could work from home, from a coffee shop, or from your latest travel destination.
Take the initiative to seek out these new opportunities and don’t stay stuck in academia, trapped in an office or lab.
If a flexible job is what you want, you already have the transferable skills to get your desired position.
While many jobs have the potential to be telecommute-friendly, a few stand out from the rest as the best options for PhDs.
Here are the top 5 industry positions that allow you to work from home…
1. Medical writing.
Medical writing is a profession that has gained a lot of steam in the past few years.
There are more biomedical studies now than ever before, and the need for PhDs with high quality communication skills to write about these studies is increasing.
As a medical writer, you will be expected to write about the topics requested by a client, and you will have to work to meet tight deadlines.
But, you won’t have to go to an office to do your work. All your writing can easily be done from home.
Another advantage of medical writing is that you will stay connected to new advancements in the medical field.
Each assignment will be different and you will need to learn new aspects of the medical industry.
Medical writers are truly life-long learners.
Whether you are crafting regulatory documents in clinical research, designing promotional literature, or writing content in a healthcare journal, a medical writer position will require your PhD research prowess and your creativity.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a medical writer is $71,000.
2. Scientific editing.
Scientific editing is another career that allows you to maintain a connection with cutting-edge research discoveries without having to spend all your time at the lab bench.
By editing scientific research papers, you will have access to new research in real-time.
In this position, you will organize peer reviews, as well as proofread and edit research papers.
Attention to detail, good time management, and high-level research and writing skills are essential for a scientific editor.
As a PhD, you have already developed these desired transferable skills.
There are many peer-reviewed journals, editing firms, and research institutes in need of PhDs to edit the growing number of research papers.
Editors are needed for all different areas of research.
You can always choose a subject that you are well acquainted with or something outside of your comfort zone.
As a PhD, you can learn anything, so do not feel limited to edit only in scientific areas where you have experience.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a scientific editor is $73,000.
In industry, there is a growing need for consultants who can provide businesses with expert advice.
As a PhD, you are an expert in your field and you have high-level learning skills that give you the ability to become an expert in other fields as well.
Consulting is a diverse career that includes scientific consulting, as well as legal, media, or corporate consulting.
The analytical and research skills you have as a PhD make you an ideal candidate for a consulting position.
While many consultants work for a consulting firm, it is also possible to start your own consulting business, which would give you more work flexibility.
As an independent consultant, you need excellent communication and networking skills to find and secure clients.
This is a great job for extroverted PhDs who enjoy networking and making new connections all the time.
An independent consultant also needs a strong entrepreneurial mindset, since you will need to successfully market and sell your services.
The average salary of a consultant varies depending on the field of expertise.
Translation is an uncommon career choice, but it is where fluency in more than one language can be advantageous to the advancement of your career.
Every industry has its own unique technical language, especially the biomedical sciences, that can be difficult for non-scientists to understand.
If you understand scientific or technical lingo in more than one language, you are a great candidate for a career in translation.
Beyond the technical jargon, each culture has its own expressions and, as a translator, being able to express each sentence so it is understood in another language is crucial.
Most translators do not have a scientific background, but as a multilingual PhD you have an advantage over these non-scientists.
As diversity in the US increases and the global economy grows, the demand for translators is expected to increase.
Fluent understanding of more than one language is a great advantage when combined with the transferable skills gained during your PhD, making you a great job candidate.
According to US News, translators can earn up to $78,000 per year.
5. Senior clinical research associate.
The senior clinical research associate role is a great alternative industry PhD career, but it’s not normally associated with working remotely.
However, according to Forbes, 78% of senior CRAs report that they are able to complete their jobs remotely.
In the senior CRA role, you will be handling clinical trials and ensuring that every project follows Good Clinical Practice guidelines.
You will be expected to manage teams of people, create project outlines, and meet deadlines — all things you learned to do as a PhD student or postdoc.
The senior CRA is responsible for everything relating to the clinical study, including budget, training, data collection, reports, and maintaining relationships with third parties.
Multitasking, time management and excellent interpersonal skills are big priorities for the senior CRA.
According to PayScale, senior clinical research associates earn an average of $98,987.
No matter what stage of your career you are at, it is not too late to consider changing to a remote working position. The amount of people working remotely is increasing as people become more focused on having a good work-life balance. Working remotely allows you the freedom to choose when and where you work without sacrificing pay. By transitioning out of academia and into an industry position, not only will you finally be paid well, but there are many job options that offer the ability to work remotely, including medical writing, scientific editing, consulting, translating, and senior CRA positions. Thanks to the Internet, working from home has never been easier.
To learn more about the 5 Best Work-From-Home Jobs For PhDs, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.
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