Additional training/degrees (and cost) after postdoc

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

Re: Additional training/degrees (and cost) after postdoc

Postby Audrey B. » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:19 am

Hi DX,

I have actually completed several of these trainings as a postdoc and have attended Toastmasters. The positions I am applying for would require that I *lead* these workshops, not just attend as a trainee. Hence, my question regarding additional training to be certified (as an instructor).

Overall, the message that I've received on the forum is that I can leverage my volunteer experience and network to find a position. Luck and timing are also factors, as these program management type positions are limited in number, and I'm also restricted geographically. Postdocs applying for these positions are relying on their transferrable skills to land them interviews. My fear is that entry-level work in these areas is dwindling, and employers are asking for job experience or some other (expensive) credential to make the transition away from the bench. The forum participants have argued against my read of the market.
Audrey B.
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:08 pm

Re: Additional training/degrees (and cost) after postdoc

Postby Audrey B. » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:27 am

As a means to transition, I've also considered applying for Scientist positions, putting in a year or two, and then leveraging that industry experience to move away from the bench. Most of my colleagues go the industry route and then figure it out from there. Since I've decided that I no longer want to do bench research, I was trying to make my exit sooner.
Audrey B.
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:08 pm

Re: Additional training/degrees (and cost) after postdoc

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:48 pm

While I can understand your desire to "make a clean break" from the bench, keep in mind that by doing so you're trying to make two transitions at the same time - a move into a new position, and a move away from the bench. It can be done, but it's going to be more challenging to do so.
Rich Lemert
Posts: 2605
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: Additional training/degrees (and cost) after postdoc

Postby Audrey B. » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:02 pm

Thanks for articulating this, Rich. I did not think of it this way. Graduate students and postdocs are told that their transferrable skills qualify them for a diverse array of jobs, including non-bench jobs. My question to the forum has been: is this really true without additional formal training. I think the resounding answer is yes, with networking.
Audrey B.
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:08 pm

Re: Additional training/degrees (and cost) after postdoc

Postby D.X. » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:08 pm

Hi Aubrey,

Well 2 comments - first there are many jobs in the industry (I’m in pharma for example) where one does not have to be at the bench and they have been discussed extensively on this forum - there is even a recent post where me and Caroline have contributed. Ok m in a “commercial-facing” role within R&D and until recent times was in Commerical.

Second most of those I’ve encountered teaching the courses you describe have also had thier experiences in the corporate world - carrying real-world experience which drives thier credibility in addition to any other credentialling they may have which is for them a tick box for them to engage in the practice - they get it later in life ie by entering say an in-house training or even HR function.

So my point - map a path to what you want and consider routes - you got advice here which I think is sound but it’s only advice and not fact. You take what you see here, merge that with your experiences and gut feeling and knowledge and take your decisions.


Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Re: Additional training/degrees (and cost) after postdoc

Postby Ana » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:58 am

Hi Audrey,

Finding jobs is hard, and usually one should only restrict the specific type of job OR the location. If you are limited to one location, it would be better for you to broaden the scope of jobs you might consider. If you are sure there is one type of job you want above any other one, then you need to open your geography.

In your case since you are restricted to a location the best is to consider different career options.

For your plan A, your ideal positions, the key will be timing. Those positions might not come up so often so your focus should be to make sure you know the key people at those relevant departments and build a relationship with them. Let them know you are interested in working with them one day. This way you will hear about jobs before others do, and they might even be able to create a position for you. But this is rarely fast.

It is also good to ask them what type of qualifications they had when starting in their current field. That will help you see that (more often than not) people come to those alternative positions through many different paths, so there is no right or wrong.

And for broadening the options that you consider, I love a mental game I read in a book about the "vanishing option". What would you do if your favourite option is off the table? it seems trivial but that time of targeted thinking can unlock many ideas. Those should become your Plan B and C... and you can then learn about those fields and meet that other relevant people in parallel to your efforts on your Plan A.

And you got it: networking is the key (not only to learn about the opportunities when they come up, but to learn about all those other fields!)

Good luck,

User avatar
Posts: 655
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Additional training/degrees (and cost) after postdoc

Postby Caroline Ritchie » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:58 pm

Hi Audrey,

I think you've gotten some great advice so far (especially about the importance of networking),but I thought I would provide a slightly different perspective. Regardless of whether you do or do not pursue additional certifications, it's important to keep in mind that everything you include in your resume should paint a picture of who you are as a professional.

As someone who has been a hiring manager in industry in the past, I have seen a lot of entry-level resumes. When I was hiring for entry-level medical writers, new PhD graduates and postdocs who applied were a dime a dozen. Almost everyone applying had a PhD, multiple publications, etc. However, someone who had taken some AMWA certifications or some other writing-related course stood out as someone who was truly interested in a career as a medical writer. Other applicants who were in their 4th+ year of a postdoc and hadn't made any effort to take on any type of writing work (through their university, as a freelance, etc.) or certification seemed less serious about medical writing as a career and more like one of the many people who applied because their grant was running out and they just needed a job. As a hiring manager, I didn't want to hire someone who was going to get their foot in the door in industry, and would then likely resign after 3 or 6 months for another position once they had industry experience.

In contrast, I have seen other people's resumes that are all over the place. They take online course after online course and every certification they can find. These people go in the same bucket as the previous group, as it is not clear from their choices why they are interested and well suited for a particular role.

Certifications can provide valuable expertise, can serve simply to make your resume stand out from others, or both. I recommend talking to people in your field to get a sense of how certifications could help you and how different certifications are perceived within the specific field you are hoping to enter (it differs quite a bit by field, the popularity of certifications, and the weight/acknowledgement that certain certifications carry). Certifications are definitely not required to transition into industry but, in some cases and in some specialties, can help if they mesh well with your overall career goals.
Caroline M. Ritchie, PhD
Caroline Ritchie
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:07 am
Location: Boston


Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: David Lathbury and 21 guests