An Academic Career

About this site

An Academic Career

Aims and how to use this site

This site aims to help you if you are interested in becoming an academic, whatever stage you have reached in your career. You can find information on what academics really do and how people typically enter academic careers. It also encourages you to ask yourself some challenging questions:

  • What do you want out of a career and is that a good match for a career as an academic?
  • Have you got what it takes to make it in the competitive world of academia?

However, it also gives you lots of suggestions for how you could improve your chances. Some of these may not be relevant or seem feasible for you, but they are based on some of the ways successful academics have developed their careers. Others with whom you are competing are likely be taking actions such as these. Therefore, before dismissing them as unrealistic, consider discussing possible actions with others who may be able to see alternative ways to organise your time, your work or your home life to help you realise your academic career ambitions.

For those who are at the point of applying for post-doctoral roles or permanent academic jobs, the site also aims to provide information to help you find and apply for jobs, and get through academic interviews and assessment.

Video clips

We have tried to illustrate many of the points on the website with short video clips from academics and early career researchers. In addition, all the video clips are available as playlists from the Academic Career Stories page of the website.

If you have any problems viewing the video clips (some people have reported problems with using the Flash video player) there are also transcripts (in pdf format) for all the video clips on the Academic Career Stories page.

Current scope

This site does not attempt to cover developing your career beyond your first permanent academic job. However, established academics may find the site useful for supporting their undergraduates, masters postgraduates, doctoral researchers and post-doctoral staff.

We acknowledge that academic career paths are many and varied, and so far we have only covered some of the more common routes taken. However we hope that many of the issues discussed are applicable to a wide range of circumstances.

Future development and feedback

We would like to extend coverage to a wider range of academic career paths and include discussion of other relevant issues such as the impact of gender, disability or family responsibilities and developing academic careers in an international context. We would also like to extend some areas with more detail, such as applying for fellowships and further information on tackling interviews.

If you wish to keep up to date with our current plans, and cast your vote for the areas you feel we should tackle next, please visit our page about An Academic Career on the Manchester Postgraduate Careers Blog.

If you are currently an academic, or aiming to become one, and feel that your experience of academia is not reflected in this site, please tell us your story. We would very much appreciate hearing from you and learning from your experiences so that we may update the content.

If you have any further comments about this site we would welcome your feedback. Please email us at


'An Academic Career' website was written by a team of careers staff at the MLP, Careers & Employability Division of The University of Manchester, led by Elizabeth Wilkinson, Head of Postgraduate Career Development. Its content was developed in consultation with many academics and administrative colleagues at The University of Manchester.

We would like to thank those academics at The University of Manchester who generously provided their time to be interviewed and for their frank insights into the career of an academic.

We are also very grateful to the UK Research Councils for their financial support of the project through the 'Roberts Funding' initiative.