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Aspiring to be a life long postdoc. Is that realistic?

  1. Jun 15, 2015 #1
    I like academic work, and I am fairly good at it, but not good enough to get on the tenure track. Postdoctoral salary for me is sufficient to comfortably support a family of four, and we don't mind moving from time to time, since my wife is not working. Is expecting to work as a postdoc for the entire life unrealistic? I know that some countries/universities only offer postdoctoral positions for up to 5 years after a PhD, but I have also heard that there are several other kinds of positions (i.e. research assistant, research associate, research scientist) that can be similar to a postdoc in everything but name. What is your opinion?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2015 #2
    There are non-tenure track faculty positions available. In these positions you are usually expected to write grant proposals and develop your own research projects.
     
  4. Jun 15, 2015 #3
    Thanks. I am currently employed as a non-tenure track faculty member (equivalent to postdoc, but with no strictly-defined end-date and with proper benefits). So far (1.5 years after a PhD) in addition to working on my supervisors' projects I have been successful in securing small-to-mid scale funding/co-funding (10k to 100k) and leading a couple of mid-level research projects (the last author). The problem is that I don't have a solid understanding on how to get top-quality publications, and I probably won't be very successful in securing big grants (so likely no tenure track for me).

    I know a few people who have been in more-or-less the same boat for 5-15 years (sometimes being successful in securing grants, sometimes moving to other groups and working on somebody else's grants, some of them have an h-index above 30, some of them much smaller). However I know very few people like this, and none who could maintain such career for over 15 years.

    What are the realistic options after being a postdoc-like researcher for over 15 years? Do you know any non-tenure track faculty members who could maintain their academic careers for the entire life? Is it possible to get on a tenure track 15 years after a PhD?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
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