PhD at maturity: Starting a consulting and teaching activity to prolong professional career

PhD at maturity: Starting a consulting and teaching activity to prolong professional careerAs I’m growing older, also do it my friends and contacts, so I’m experiencing, in particular after the occurrence of the last financial crisis, that professional careers start ending at a certain age (around 55?), and we should find alternative activities to prolong career (and income) until at least you turn 70.

And one of the most logical alternatives is to use your own long professional experience, that is, start consulting, activity that is linked to knowledge and personal branding, which fit perfectly well within an academic career: PhD, teaching, researching, publishing in scientific journals and networking.

But it’s clear that the transition is not done overnight and have to be planned in advance, at least 5 years. I did it more than 10 years ago: I wanted to be a university professor and now I’m delighted with my vocation, although it’s much more demanding than I thought at first.

On the other hand, it’s also true that you can be a good professor without a PhD, but I don’t recommend it because it makes no sense and has no future, as a doctorate degree gives you the basic skills a researcher needs, puts you as an equal with other academics, and when opting for an adjunct or lecturer job you will have more merits than the others, having into account that for a full-time position a PhD is a must.

Furthermore, in Spain at least, most private universities cover their adjunct/lecturer positions with successful working professionals without teaching or researching experience, but increasingly they are raising the requirements. Lately, for example, ICADE Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, a small business university in Madrid, were asking the following requirements (minimum and valuable ones) for an adjunct (part time) position:

  1. PhD
  2. Accredited as a university professor
  3. Publications in international academic journals
  4. Extensive professional and teaching experience
  5. And ability to teach in English

Honestly, how many professionals are there with that CV in Spain or even Europe? But you may develop it, of course, I’m of the idea that everything can be achieved with time and effort. So, go for it!

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6 Responses to PhD at maturity: Starting a consulting and teaching activity to prolong professional career

  1. Iwo Augustynski says:

    In Poland you generally must have PhD to apply for an adjunct or lecturer job in public and private universities.

  2. Allison Adams says:

    Many community colleges in the United States do not require a PhD for a regular faculty member and many adjunct positions at 4 year colleges/universities do not. I would suggest a cost/benefit analysis before spending the money (and time) on a doctorate. PhD programs are typically expensive, especially given the many credits one must pay for that are strictly related to writing the dissertation. Will the number of years you hold your professorial position yield any kind of a payback for you?

    Also, recognize that if you primarily enjoy teaching (not research), you may not need the PhD and should seek a teaching position at a college that is teaching-focused (such as a community college). Adjunct pay should be investigated first as it is typically very low and doesn’t include benefits.

    On the other hand, if you plan to teach and hold a tenure-track (regular) faculty position at a university, you will find it difficult to get a position without a terminal degree. Even if you manage to do so, you will find you are a second-class citizen, expected to do what others do but not compensated at the same level. My university changed the rules midstream and I am no longer eligible for a promotion due to my lack of a doctorate, although I was eligible for it for the first 6 years.

    • In my case, I was adviced to obtain a PhD if I wanted to build an academic career in the long term: A PhD is the way to get as an equal with other professors in your department or faculty, to be ahead of the other adjuncts / lecturers, enhance your image and personal brand, and deepen your knowledge area and so improve as teacher, which is not little.

  3. Carol says:

    Honestly I love the fact that I have a PhD. But I need to continue: My PhD from a University that was licensed but not accredited (it was a University that specialized in long distance Military education-even though I am not from the military). That fact has impacted the success of my credentials.

    While I was teaching full-time-before I finished my PhD, I realized that there were too many people available for teaching and that I needed to do something to stand apart. That is why I pursued a PhD. My path was also impacted by other issues-the program that I taught for was in a prison program. The program ended due to funding at both the State and the Federal levels. Therefore people from 6 Universities were out of a job-instantly.

    The path is one of mixed blessings. The reality is that most likely you not receive enough money to cover the expense. It should have put me above those with less education; but perhaps, not position me as a Department Head. My transcript shows several years of additional training….which should work for everyone involved.

    Back to experience, I have additional training that is way beyond most. To date I have been able to publish. I decided that because it came with a hefty fee that I did not feel would be a smart expense at this time. Currently I am back in school. I could be considered a bit of an education addict. I loved the materials and certainly have a very specific yet broad focus. My interests are about the materials not research. My suggestion is: use caution if you plan to continue to teach. Most of what I have seen available does not offer enough money to live on in any fashion. Some of the schools do not pay enough to (almost) cover the transportation cost. The current “plan” seems to be to rotate people so benefits etc are not paid. It is really sad that the “vision” is gone!

  4. Sad story, i’m sorry for your ‘vision”, thank you for sharing.

    I’m teaching at two universities as a part-time professor, and I can do it thanks to my PhD, publishing record and professional experience. My vision is teaching full-time someday in the near future.

  5. Pingback: POLL: Are scientific journals unfair or biased? | How to publish in journals

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