There are many doors open to those who have survived the doctoral period and finally hold a doctorate. You have the choice between an academic career and a career start.
Doctorate – Postdoc
If you enjoy gaining new insights and the freedom of academic life, then a postdoctoral position may be right for you. You will be employed at a university or other research institution and will work on various research projects during this time. You can also take a postdoctoral position abroad. If you return to Germany with international experience and prestigious results in your luggage, your career opportunities will have increased dramatically.
If you are in a postdoc position, you should definitely use this time to publish many good articles in professional journals and make a name for yourself in the research community of your area. However, you must be aware that a postdoctoral position is usually only a transitional phase and the job search will continue after that. Many scientists are moving from one temporary position to the next until their 40s. That’s hard to reconcile with family life. Despite the uncertain career prospects, the majority of doctoral students are satisfied with their lives – after all, they can work in the field of research that interests them.
Habilitation and professorship
After a postdoctoral position, you can still set yourself the goal of a postdoctoral lecturing qualification (habilitation) and then apply for a professorship. It takes an average of 12 years from your studies to your doctorate and habilitation until you are ready. But you can’t really plan your career. The sought-after professor positions are very limited and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get one of them. The most important characteristic that you should bring with you is mobility.
Above all, a professorship is inevitably associated with a change of location, since appointments within one’s own university in Germany are only permissible in special individual cases. So you have to be prepared to adjust to a new place of work and a new institute under certain circumstances. You should think carefully about whether such a career meets your expectations and is compatible with your family planning.
Doctorate – Career in the private sector
You feel like you’ve done enough research and now you want to do something completely different? Then you can start your professional life well prepared after your doctorate. In certain industries, such as the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, a doctorate is obligatory for a career in any case. For a top position a doctorate seems to be very advantageous in all industries if you look at the executive floors of German companies. After all, someone who has a doctorate proves to the employer how resilient and efficient he is and is often preferred for promotions.
If you have already considered a professional career after your doctorate at an early stage, you can contact a company before the doctoral phase. Then you can align the dissertation with the interests of this company by choosing an application-related topic. This increases your chances of getting a job in this company after your promotion. However, some companies sometimes shy away from hiring highly qualified doctoral candidates because they are not prepared to pay them a correspondingly high salary.
But once you get a job, you usually don’t have to worry about your finances anymore. With an average starting salary of 65,000 euros gross per year, doctoral candidates are at the top of the salary hierarchy and earn up to 6,000 euros more than Master’s graduates. In the long run, a doctorate can therefore be financially worthwhile.