1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

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
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook