Science & Information Technology (IT) Careers Opportunities & Development Advice Guidance - Information & News From Your Career Guide

Your Career In Science and IT


Postgrad: Is it worth it?

From a salary point of view, it can be. According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), employers who are prepared to pay an education premium for a postgrad qualification would typically pay a median of £6500 for a PhD and a median of £3500 for a Masters.

However, although science and IT postgrads are the most employable, it is as well to explore your postgraduate course thoroughly beforehand. Target Jobs (www.targetjobs.co.uk) has advice specifically tailored to Science and IT graduates wondering about that next step.

Becoming a postgrad just to delay your career decision-making isnít sensible, warns Target. Decide on your career goals first and then look at the programmes available.

Masters-level courses are typically good for going into more depth on a subject covered in your degree. They are also good if looking to work abroad: most universities on mainland Europe run longer courses than in the UK with graduates typically emerging with a Masters level qualification. They can also be useful for gaining new specialist knowledge and taking a side step into a new but related area of science, for example, bioinformatics after a biology degree. Typically a year long, you can emerge with either an MSc or an MRes depending on whether the qualification was taught or research-based.

PhDs typically last three years, during which you will get to conduct independent scientific research, often within a specialist group within a university.

Your current university and the postgraduate prospectuses of other universities are the best place to start your search. If you are considering a PhD, do some reading around the subject area that interests you and talk to researchers and supervisors at your current university to find out more. Locate other research groups and universities working in the field and do a literature search to find work published in key journals.

Target Jobs suggests you can try starting with scholar.google.com, and your universityís library services should be able to point you in the direction of other academic databases. Check the research assessment exercise (RAE) ratings for departments that interest you.

Three years doing a PhD is a long time, so you need to make sure that you find a place where you will be happy and able to do your best work. The relationship you have with a supervisor can make or break a PhD. Once you start visiting research groups take the time to find out as much as you can about how a group runs and how much support you will receive. Make the most of opportunities to talk independently to PhD students and post-docs already in the group. If you are considering an experimental PhD, cast your eye over the equipment Ė does it look up to the job?