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Graduate Degree: Gateway to Employment

The time, money, and effort spent gaining a PhD is repaid handsomely in excellent career prospects, according to research presented at the Vitae researcher development conference. A study of doctoral employment carried out for Research Councils UK found that doctoral graduates are highly employable—under two percent of those with a PhD were out of work three years after completing their doctorates.

Although more than half—54 percent—of those questioned are employed outside the academy, 94 percent say they use their research skills in their work and bout 40 percent say they carry out research “most of the time”.

On the findings “What Do Researchers Do? Doctoral Graduate Destinations ans Impact Three Years On”, Vitae says that doctoral graduates had established careers in sectors including healthcare, engineering, and finance.

Most of those questioned feel that their research skills are useful, with 92 percent stating that they helped them to be “innovative” in the workplace. The study concludes that the supply of highly skilled workers is critical to the UK's economic growth and social well-being.

The report provided “comprehensive evidence of the value of doctoral study to researchers, their employers and society at large”, says Rick Rylance, chief executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and RCUK's “champion for research careers”.

In addition, the salary benefits of a graduate degree, and which sectors place the highest value on a PhD, according to the 2007 QS International recruiter Survey. Candidates with graduate degrees earn more money than their colleagues without such qualifications.