Career options for Health and Psychology researchers
Find out about the different career options available if you're undertaking research in Health or Psychology.
Broadly speaking, your options are the same as those for researchers in other disciplines; see the career options page for more details. The aim of this page is to look at some career options that may be particularly suitable for Health and Psychology researchers. One important question to ask yourself is the extent to which you want to use your subject in any future career moves. It's entirely your choice - you will have acquired and developed many skills during your PhD which are complementary to the research skills and knowledge you might think define your career choice.
If you'd like to remain working in Health or Psychology and would like some ideas as to how, see details of what previous Bath doctoral graduates have gone on to do.
This covers the most obvious choices (academic, research and public sector employment, employment as trainee or chartered practising psychologists) but the public sector, in particular, is vast and there are many options within it. Possible employment destinations might include the civil service, NHS or relevant charities. You may be interested in pursuing research outside of academia, for example in the civil service, research institutes, charities or think tanks. Working in health policy is another option - see the information sources below for more details. Other options directly related to health include clinical trials, science and medical writing, health promotion, medical sales, public health and community support work.
Jobs in the exercise physiology and bio-mechanics fields also tend to be mainly available in the health sector; opportunities also exist in the private sector, for example with sporting organisations or equipment developers.
You might want to move out of the Health or Psychology sector altogether, but still use your social science background. There are many occupations in which your PhD would be valuable, including management consultancy, which involves helping organisations to solve problems and improve business performance, and values the high level research and problem-solving skills of PhD students. Marketing is another area which requires an understanding of psychology to be at its most effective. Other areas might be human resources, which concentrates on employment policy and regulations, counselling or market research.
Options outside of your subject
If, having got to this stage, you're not sure that you want to use your subject any more, don't despair! You have many skills and experiences that are highly valuable to employers and you can choose from the huge range of graduate jobs on offer, from structured training with large financial services firms to management training with well-known retailers and manufacturers. The key is to think of the skills you have and enjoy using, and explore occupations that use them to suggest possible alternatives. For information on different types of jobs, explore the occupational profiles on Prospects.ac.uk.
- Prospects.ac.uk - see especially the Options with Sport Science, Options with Health Studies, Options with Public Administration and Social Policy, and Options with Psychology guides.
- British Psychological Society. The representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK. Their careers and education section contains information on the various areas of psychology, including training and education requirements. Also hosts the vacancy site Psychologist Appointments.
- Health Careers - detailed information on the different types of roles available in the NHS.
- ESRC/HEFCE guide to careers with quantitative methods
- Guide to Six Areas of working in public health.
- University of Oxford Guide to Working in Local Government & Public Administration.
- University of Oxford Guide to working for think tanks.
- Social Policy Association - A professional association for academics and practitioners in social policy. Has a thriving postgrad network.
- Social Research Association - An organisation open to social research practitioners and trainees and those with an interest in social research. Has a short careers section with links to other useful websites.
- Association for Qualitative Research - has very useful list of qualitative research organisations and consultancies in a wide range of sectors.
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Information on careers and training routes in counselling.
- British Association of Sports and Exercise Sciences (BASES). This professional body exists to promote excellence in sport and exercise sciences. It offers accreditation for individuals, groups and laboratories.
- Careers in sport - Careers Service helpsheet.
- Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development. Professional body for fields of human resources, training etc. Includes careers information as well as a wide variety of information on training and current trends and opinion
- UKSport. Has a useful vacancies board.
- Health Policy - check out organisations like the King's Fund and the Health Foundation
- Sport England
- Institute of Clinical Research
- Management Consultancies Association. Organisation representing consultancy industry. Includes careers resources and vacancy listings. See also this information on healthcare consultancy from the LSE.
Jobs as practising Psychologists
- Jobs in the many fields of practising psychology are mainly advertised in the BPS careers supplement Psychologist Appointments.
- The NHS is a major employer of psychologists; all vacancies are advertised in NHS jobs.
- The Civil Service employs occupational psychologists; vacancies are advertised on the Directgov website or through the Civil Service Jobs website.
- Another organisation employing psychologists is the prison service.
Where to look for jobs in Health and Psychology
- Careers Service MyFuture database - look at the vacancies relevant to your subject area and also in the sections 'For PhD Students' and 'For Postdocs'. Use the 'organisations' function to identify potential employers that you may want to work for or could approach speculatively.
- Civil Service Fast Stream - entry into the Government Social Research Service is via the Analytical Fast Stream.
- Civil Service jobs - for a range of jobs including practising psychologists
- Jobsgopublic contains a wide selection of jobs throughout the public sector, including education, health, local and central government and charities.
- Local Government Jobs
- NHS jobs carries all jobs for this major employer.
- Office for National Statistics. Regularly has vacancies for social researchers to design and analyse the many surveys it carries out.
- The Social Research Association has some interesting opportunities in its jobs section.
- The local and national press carries many vacancies, particularly the Guardian on a Wednesday.
- The Research Councils also employ researchers in their work, to assess and review grants among other things, as do other funding bodies.
- ThirdSectorJobs for opportunities in the charitable and voluntary sector.
- Policy Library - has job postings, information about policy areas and a World Directory of Think Tanks.
- JobsinPsychology - for practising psychology jobs
Jobs in industry
This is a huge sector and so we can't provide an exhaustive list. However, these are some of the more popular places to look:
- The national press carries many vacancies, particularly The Guardian.
- People Management jobs section, covering all sections of HR as well as training and development roles.
- Work in the clinical trials field is a possibility for Health postgraduates. The best job sites in this sector are The Institute of Clinical Research, eMedCareers and PharmiWeb.
- If you are interested in science writing, you should try the Association of British Science Writers.
- For those interested in a career in chemical sales and technical specialist roles try individual company websites (again, use our Employer Index to reach those). For pharmaceutical sales, visit pharmajobs.co.uk.
- MarketingWeek for vacancies in advertising, PR and market research.
- Vacancies in the sports science fields are not often widely advertised, and opportunities are often found via word of mouth. However, UKSport and the British Association of Sports and Exercise Scientists (BASES) do advertise jobs, as do local government organisations and individual sporting organisations, often via their websites.