Difference between post-doc and "real job" for an academic So let's say that I wanted to do land a faculty position a few years (2-4?) after getting my PhD. These days, it seems that doing a post-doc is the de facto prerequisite to achieving that goal. Well my question is: why/is this preferred over doing a "real job" for an equivalent amount of time? Obviously, the "real job" would be research oriented; say, maybe at an industry or government lab. If that were the case, wouldn't the fact that you are doing (hopefully) meaningful research beyond your dissertation serve the same purpose as doing a post-doc? Is there really anything special about having the title "post-doc" and still making less than you're worth for a few more years?