An Academic Career

Is an academic career for you

Dr Andrea Simpson considers teaching a highlight of her job, but bureaucracy and finding funding a lowlight.


Many people dream of becoming an academic.

Some of these dreams are fuelled by a passion for research, a drive to extend the frontiers of knowledge and a desire to enthuse the next generation of undergraduates with a love for an academic subject.

Some dreams, however, are founded on a vision of dreaming spires and Brideshead Revisited, where academics live life at a different pace, cut off from 'real world' worries like budgets and deadlines. This world is long gone.

This website will give you the chance to explore the realities of an academic career, help you decide whether such a career is for you, offer ideas to help you make it as an academic and also suggest alternatives.

Dr Kevin Lane loves being able to research exactly what he wants in his Research Fellowship, but finds the insecurity of a short term contract a drawback.

Get started

As an aspiring academic, the concerns and actions you could take depend on where you are in your career. Therefore, a good starting point is to choose the stage which most closely matches your situation.

  • Undergraduate / Masters
    You are currently studying at this level, or this is your highest level of qualification for those further on in your career
  • PhD / Doctoral Researcher
    You are currently undertaking a doctoral degree, if this is your highest level of qualification for those further on in your career, or if you are currently undertaking a PhD whilst employed within a university
  • Post-doctoral research / teaching staff
    You are a member of research or teaching staff (full- or part-time) within a university having completed a doctorate (but not yet a lecturer or similar grade)

If you fall between these categories, have a look at How do I become an academic? to gauge which would be the best starting point.

Note: We have not attempted to cover progression beyond lecturer grade within an academic career. Therefore this site is unlikely to help current permanent academic staff, other than as a resource to support aspiring academics working or studying with you.