Working in research with a degree (or similar)

Depending on the industry sector you wish to work in, you might start a research project for a PhD in a particular topic or subject, either at university or for a commercial company.

You will need to have a degree in a relevant subject and usually a master’s degree as well.

Financial circumstances and job prospects will affect your decision about where to continue studying and doing your research.

Example jobs

Project assistant
Collecting data for the research project and liaising with the manager.

Project leader
In charge of running the data collection for the research project.

Senior researcher or project manager
Overseeing the whole research project, managing the budget and monitoring progress.

Director of research
Responsible for authorising projects that an organisation wishes to run or take on.

Market researcher
For example, in retail, recruitment or research and design. Obtaining large quantities of data, entering data into spreadsheets or databases, generating graphs, charts and reports.

Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

A PhD studentship salary usually includes payment of course fees worth another £4,000 a year, with other benefits such as gym membership and travel loans.

Pay levels graph

Typical working conditions

  • Your work might be office-based within a university or commercial company, in a laboratory or with direct access to the public.
  • Your work might involve travel or carrying out experiments and making observations. The work can be repetitive when working on large-scale projects.
  • Like many other jobs, research is not always a typical 9–5 job.

Qualifications needed

You will need a BEd, BA or BSc Hons degree in a subject relevant to the area of research, followed by a masters degree. This will allow you to apply for a research degree leading to a PhD/doctorate.

To become a senior researcher, you will need to have already completed your PhD.

For research in television and other media, you will usually need a degree in a relevant subject. You could start as a TV runner or production assistant and work your way up by gaining practical experience and developing contacts.

Career path

You could become a senior researcher, working on higher-profile projects in the area you love studying. You could set up and apply for funding for your own project. You might choose to lecture undergraduates or postgraduates at a university. Another option is to work as a manager in a university or a large organisation that is looking for people with expertise and skills in your subject.

If you have language skills, you could work in another country.

Useful links

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FindAMasters

A directory of Masters degree programmes from around the world

FindAPhD

A database of PhD programmes, research projects and studentships