Navigating Post PhD Careers; Freelancing work

There are so many post-phd career options out there, but the majority of them fall into the ‘academia bucket’ or the ‘industry bucket’, both of which you work for an organisation and are governed by that organisation’s structure, goals, and entitlements etc. But there is another option…. Freelancing.

This is not something that I have personal experience with, however I thought that it is important to discuss a variety of post-phd options, and for many people being their own boss while using skills they obtained as part of their PhD is ideal.

These are a few types of freelancing us PhDs could consider:

  • Freelance Researching- Through my experience in market research, I came across some freelance researchers, some of whom we outsourced work to. This work allows you to use your research skills in a range of areas (for businesses, local governments, NGOs, etc.). You could be broad and sell yourself as a researcher generally, or you could be more niche depending on your PhD topic. For example an old colleague of mine does eco-friendly behaviour change research consulting as a freelancer. My understanding is this would work particularly well if you live in an area without large research companies to compete with (e.g. more rural settings / small cities). 
  • Freelance writing- I think many of us PhD students overlook our writing experience and writing skills which are highly developed throughout the thesis writing journey. With these skills, and particularly if you are a creative person you could become a freelancer writer in a range of areas…. Science communication, technical,  education, lifestyle etc. 
  • Freelance Editing- Another skill that is developed throughout a PhD is editing skills which can be highly sought after. You can sell these skills to other people in the science or research field or you can also branch out and edit for writers, bloggers, journalists etc. 
  • Freelance statistician- This one won’t be for everyone, but if you developed advanced statistics skills throughout your PhD, you could be highly in demand. Many researchers and scientists require statistics guidance and are willing to pay good money for this.  

I discovered this website while I was researching this topic which may be helpful if you are considering freelancing your skills-


Leave a Reply