There are many compelling reasons to choose a career in academia. Here are our top 10.
Many PhDs choose an academic career because of their love of teaching. There are very few other jobs with the same opportunities to have such a long-term impact on students’ lives.
2. Mentoring Students
Mentoring graduate students is another part of academic life that professors find immensely rewarding. They take pride in helping their students succeed in their professional careers.
3. Follow Your Interests
When you work in academia you have the freedom to determine your own research areas and lead a team to pursue them. You’re also in control of the funding for your work (though on the flip side it’s your responsibility to secure it).
4. Freedom Over Your Time
Academics are also free to choose how they spend their day. Aside from teaching obligations, they get to decide not only when they work but also what projects they work on each day and who they work with. Not being tied to the normal nine to five work hours allows academics to spend their time on the projects where they can add the most value. You can work from home, the office, or your local coffee shop as long as you remain productive.
5. Do What You Love All the Time
You know the expression “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”? It might as well be about academia. While in other jobs you might only get to work on something that truly interests you for a few hours of the workday, as an academic you can devote all your research time to pursuing your passions. After all, they’re what drove to do a PhD in the first place.
Compared to corporate or industry jobs, academic jobs have significantly less oversight. As an academic you only have a boss in administrative terms, but in your daily life you don’t report to anyone. You are your own manager.
7. Collaboration Opportunities
The university environment promotes cross-disciplinary thinking and research and makes it easy to approach and collaborate with experts on just about any topic. They might be working just a few doors down from you!
Academics who get tenure enjoy a job security that rarely exists in the corporate world. Tenure offers academics financial security, as well as the academic freedom to take risks in pursuing new research lines or multi-year projects that can take several years to see results.
9. Have a Long-Term Impact
In academia you have less pressure to hit certain short-term deadlines and that allows you to take a long-term approach to problem solving. You can focus on finding the best solution, not the one that will work for right now. This means academics usually tackle bigger problems that can have a lasting impact on the field.
Opportunities for travel abound in academia starting at the graduate student level. Academics usually attend national or international conferences a couple times a year. In certain disciplines, you might have the chance to research or do fieldwork for an extended period of time in another country.