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Exceptional Degrees for Exceptional Careers: 4 Jobs for PhDs

Students willing to put in the effort to complete on-campus or online PhD programs can enter some extraordinary fields



By Greg Scott Neuman
Posted 2012

Exceptional Jobs for PhDs
Exceptional Jobs for PhDs

It’s commonly believed that jobs for PhDs are limited to academia:  professors, philosophers, scientists and other positions dominated by the intellectual elite.  There is certainly some truth to this; earning a doctorate in the right field often leads to such a career.  But there are other, more practical fields that also require a PhD.  And they’re becoming more popular, especially now that online PhD programs have made these degrees more accessible.

Here are four exceptional jobs for PhDs – some that you’d expect, and a couple you may not!

1.  Academic Dean.  These professionals are postsecondary education administrators who oversee individual colleges and schools within a university.  For example, a large state university may have a college of business, a college of law, a college of social sciences and many others.  A different academic dean will direct and coordinate the activities of each.

Some academic deans start as professors and then become administrators later in their careers.  Such professionals generally hold a doctorate in whatever subject they formerly taught.  Others go directly into postsecondary education administration, earning their PhD in Education Administration or a similar field.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects about 19% growth in this field through 2020, and reports that academic deans have a median annual salary of $83,710.*

[Let us match you with a PhD in Education Administration degree program now!]

2.  Clinical Psychologist.  Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat patients with behavioral, emotional and mental disorders.  They may help people with a wide variety of problems, from relatively minor short-term issues to severe conditions that require institutionalization.  Some clinical psychologists specialize in treating a particular segment of the population, such as children or the economically disadvantaged.

Clinical psychologists generally earn a PhD in Psychology.  BLS data indicates that the median income for this field is $68,640 annually, and the number of jobs is expected to increase by 22% through 2020.*

[Find PhD in Psychology degree programs now!]

3.  Top Executive.  These professionals manage corporations, nonprofit groups and other organizations at the highest level.  Chief executive officers (CEOs), chief financial officers (CFOs), chief operating officers (COOs), chief technology officers (CTOs), city managers, university presidents, and general managers are all good examples.

Top executives create policies and enact strategies to make sure their organization reaches its goals.  Depending on their exact area of responsibility, they may oversee budgets, consult with board members, negotiate contracts, appoint mid- and low-level managers, and enact cost-cutting or performance-improving programs.

In smaller organizations, executives generally hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.  But in large companies – especially those that operate on an international scale – top positions are now often held by professionals who have completed PhD business programs.  BLS data indicates that the median income for top executives is $101,250 annually.*

[Get matched with a PhD business program now!]

4.  University Professor.  Sometimes referred to by the more general term “postsecondary teachers”, university professors teach at the college level.  They provide instruction to students in their area of expertise, which may be anything from accounting to zoology.  Their teaching responsibilities usually also include curriculum development, lesson planning and grading students’ work.

In addition, some university professors conduct research and publish their findings.  They may also serve on academic or administrative committees.

University professors generally earn a PhD or other doctorate in the subject they want to teach.  The BLS expects about 17% growth in this field through 2020, and reports that these professionals have a median annual salary of $62,050.*

[Let us match you with accredited universities and PhD programs now!]

*Salary and job growth data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, accessed October 2012.

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