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Data Scientist, Patent Analyst & Medical Writing Positions For PhDs

What industry position can I apply to?

That’s one of the most common questions PhDs ask once they decide to leave academia.

What you probably don’t realize is that you have many options when it comes to choosing a career.

So, the real question is not what industry position you can apply to, but what industry position is the right fit for you.

Which position better matches your professional lifestyle and career goals? 

In previous blogs we’ve discussed how to establish your desired professional lifestyle and how to use it to evaluate your target career track and companies.

In the next blog series, we will take a look at the individual positions within each core career track and what are their specific qualities.

At the end of the series, you should have enough information to narrow down your job search to two or three industry positions.

The first career track I’ll cover is information, aggregation, and patents.

If you want to analyze different kinds of information and data to come up with actionable results, this career track might be highly rewarding, as it was for the PhD whose story I’m sharing below.

I am really happy to announce that I have made the transition to Data Scientist at an international software company. 

After 10 years in academia and 2 years trying to transition, I was finally brave enough to seriously pursue the career that I wanted. 

I received 3 different offers and I accepted the one that provided me with better opportunities to grow professionally and personally, as well as the best company fit.

I’m very satisfied with the change. I didn’t leave academia because I didn’t like research, but because I was tired of the precariousness. 

In fact, I am still doing research. I attend conferences, publish articles, and, if I propose an interesting course for our research, the company has the funds to pursue it. 

I’ve been working for a while now and I can tell you that I don’t miss academia at all.

At the beginning, I was just looking for any position, which led to unanswered applications. 

So, I joined Cheeky Scientist and they helped figure out the professional lifestyle I was looking for and gave me the tools to face the selection process with confidence. 

Once I was clear about what I wanted, the process went smoothly.

Is A Position In Information, Aggregation, And Patents The Right Fit For You?

So, what’s information, aggregation, and patents? 

It’s not just gathering information, it’s not just writing, It’s not just analyzing data. 

It’s about digging through information, collecting it, analyzing it and drawing conclusions from it. 

A lot of PhDs and high-level technical people stop before the final piece, they collect and analyze data. They even find trends.

But they have no experience in doing anything actionable with the trends they’ve found or the data they’ve analyzed. 

The positions that fall under this career track require you to do something actionable.

Information, aggregation, and patents is very broad and can be broken down into three sub career paths: Intellectual property, writing and editing, and information and data management.As we go through the individual job titles in each of the sub-career tracks, keep in mind the 8 core work qualities that PhDs have reported as being the most important to them when establishing position fit.

  1. Salary 
  2. Amount of travel required 
  3. Field position 
  4. In-house vs remote position 
  5. Innovation position 
  6. Commercialization position 
  7. Numbers-heavy position 
  8. Writing-intensive position

Intellectual Property Roles For PhDs

If you want to work at the forefront of innovations, helping companies protect their intangible creations, or you want to analyze the potential of new ideas, the intellectual property (IP) track is a good fit. 

This sub career track includes 4 job titles, all of which are in-house and innovation positions.

Patent examiner or scientific consultant

Usually a patent examiner works in a government office. 

In this writing intensive position, your goal will be to determine the worth of different patent claims, decide whether or not there are objections, and help solve those objections alongside patent agents.

Patent agent

Patent agents usually work in law offices, creating patent claims for their clients. So, it’s no surprise that this is a writing-intensive position.

To become a patent examiner, you’ll need to pass the patent bar exam, or its equivalent in the country where you want to work.

IP lawyer

IP lawyers work for companies across industries, helping them find ways to patent their technologies.

This position is at the highest level of the IP sub career track. Motley because it requires a law degree. 

The most common path for PhDs to become IP lawyers is to gain experience as patent agents and then have a company sponsor their law degree.

This position is in the top 10% highest-paying PhD-level positions. It’s also writing-intensive.

Technology transfer officer

Tech transfer officers work at a university, but this is not an academic position. 

Their goal is to review the innovations produced by different research groups and help transfer them from academia to industry. 

You might think that this position is about creating partnerships, but the focus is to evaluate the innovations.

There’s another industry position, called tech transfer alliance officer, that focuses more on personal relationships and building alliances.

Writing And Editing Roles For PhDs

If your favorite part of your PhD was writing papers and grant proposals, or building posters and conference presentations, you should give the writing and editing sub-career path a closer look.

We will take a look at three job titles, all of which are innovation and writing-intensive positions. 

Medical writer

Medical writer is an umbrella term that covers a multitude of positions. Medical writers can work on site, or remote. They can be full time employees or freelancers.

The types of deliverables you can work on as a medical writer range from white papers and blog posts to regulatory proposals and brochures for physicians.

Keep in mind that you can work as a medical writer even if your PhD background is not clinical. This key here is to be able to reach out to different audiences through your writing.

Scientific writer/technical editor

Just like medical writers, technical writers and editors can work in house or remotely, so make sure to do your research before applying for these positions.

If you target this position, you can work for different types of institutions in academia or industry, as well as non- and for-profit organizations.

The focus here will be your PhD background, be it social sciences, engineering, or mathematics.

Scientific journalism

Finally, you could work in journal publishing, which includes academic and other types of journals. Once again, you can thrive in this position no matter your PhD background.

This position can be field-based or in house and might require extensive travel.

Information And Data Management Roles For PhDs

If you love working with large data sets, programming or other data analysis and management activities, then the information and data management track is the right fit for you.

Healthcare informatics technologist

As its name indicates, the goal of this in-house position is to analyze and draw actionable conclusions for data that relates to healthcare. 

This includes clinical trial data, data related to patient stay or rotation at a hospital, or data related to a treatment or drug, among others.

Operation research analyst

Operation research analysts work in house analyzing internal data produced by their organization.  

How are things operating? What type of data needs to be collected to track performance and productivity within the company? How can it be improved? What actionable insights can be gained?

These are tough questions to answer. So, it’s no surprise that the salary of this innovation position is among the top 10%.

Business intelligence analyst

Business intelligence analysts also work in house, but they gather and analyze data produced outside of their organization.

They mostly focus on competitive intelligence, gathering information from their competitors and using them to improve their company’s position in the market.

Data scientist

Data scientist is one of the fastest growing positions in the world and one of the top positions for PhDs leaving academia, both due to its high salary (among the top 10%) and the possibility to work within different industries.  

There’s two types of data scientist positions: those that require computer programming and modeling skills and those that rely on pure data collection and data analysis. 

Anybody with a technical background, no matter what that background is, can thrive as a data scientist.

Concluding Remarks

The information, aggregation, and patents career track can be a good option for PhDs who want to draw actionable insights from different types of data. This broad career track has three sub career tracks: Intellectual property, writing and editing, and information and data management. Each sub career track has its own individual positions, such as data scientist, patent agent, and medical writer. If you decide to pursue this career track, make sure to contrast each individual position with your ranking of the eight top work qualities to find the best fit and become more productive in your search.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by millions of PhDs and other professionals in hundreds of different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.

Dr. Hankel has published 3X bestselling books and his latest book, The Power of a PhD, debuted on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list. His methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

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