Saturday, August 28, 2010

Top 10 Alternate Careers for Humanities Ph.D.s

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I'm often asked by Inside Higher Ed readers what other realistic non-academic employment options are out there for A.B.D.s, newly minted Ph.D.s, and those contingent faculty members who are considering leaving academe for good but have no idea where to begin their search. Changing careers is daunting, particularly for academics.
We're trained to teach and design college-level courses; to do rigorous, independent and sometimes collaborative research; to write constantly and self motivate; to work, more or less, without supervision; to network at conferences and "present" papers to small groups of like-minded individuals; and to read and reference the same books and articles as the other few hundred or so people who are interested in similar topics. We've also spent 6+ years, give or take, earning our highly specialized advanced degrees. Some of us (me!!) have taken out hefty student loans to finance our dream of becoming a professor.

So what, exactly, are we qualified to do if becoming a tenure-track humanities professor is no longer possible? What else is there?

Top 10 Alternate Careers for Humanities Ph.D.s
1. Private and/or secondary school teaching
2. Academic administration
3. Corporate communications
4. Commercial or academic publishing
5. Freelance writing and/or editing
6. Non-profit work (i.e., museums, national parks, niche organizations)
7. Government jobs
8. Archives or libraries
9. Real estate Webmaster [*based on a reader suggestion. Thanks, Caroline at postacademic!]
10. Career counseling or coaching

I'm hoping the above list, arranged in no particular order, will help get the creative juices flowing. In future posts I promise to spend more time delving into the specifics of each possibility.


Caroline said...

Thank you for stopping by Post Academic and mentioning On the Fence! I've added your blog to our roster as well, and, as you can tell from the blog, we read you often.

Based on my own Post Academic career, I can also add online content management or web administration to your top 10 list. That might be a subset of archives or libraries, but humanities academics shouldn't be afraid of code or website building. (I believe the Web/phone apps are the ultimate alliance between the humanities and technology.) It's not much more difficult than starting a blog. And, by picking up some webmaster skills, an academic could stand out in a job search. Every Humanities department needs a Webmaster!

Eliza Woolf said...

Hi Caroline, thanks for visiting On the Fence and leaving an excellent alternate careers tip! I hadn't thought about web administration but agree that it should be in the top 10. Over at the Versatile PhD I know of several academics who have either taught themselves webmaster skills or taken quick, intensive courses in order to stand out. Knowledge of html, etc. combined with an ability to write, research, and edit well, would make for a killer package.

Corinne L. said...

What programs should I know if I want to market myself as a writer/editor/webmaster? Can I realistically teach myself?

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