I just finished my PhD in physics in Germany. I've seen that there it is difficult to find a fixed position. These are mostly only professorships which are obtained normally at the age of 40-50. That panorama is very discouraging for me, as I would like to settle down.

I would like to know how academia is in Switzerland and in Austria. Concretely:

  • Are there another type of fixed positions in academia other than professorships? Is there a significant number of them in offer?
  • For whichever kind of fixed position, at what age/career stage are they typically awarded?
  • 5
    You will not find a significant number of permanent positions anywhere. Jan 31 at 1:18
  • In academia, quite true…
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 31 at 1:49
  • 2
    Sometimes there exist research group leaders, but they are rare. Also, they may have to be subordinate to a professor, so depending on the prof, you might not have as much independence. Switzerland and Austria are very small, and while I do not know Austria that well, Switzerland has very competitive academia. ETH is regularly in the top 10 in the world. You probably have better chances in high-quality US universities, because there are more. Jan 31 at 5:52
  • Frame challenge: job security is not great worldwide right now. I have worked for 10 years on a temporary contract and felt less financially threatened than right now in a permanent position. You are always welcome to work, but the pay may not be to your taste, and barring a golden parachute or other source of financial independence there is just nothing in the world guaranteeing a long-term stability. Tenure is a good approximation, but those positions are ultra-competitive. Still, many who do not attain them are able to settle down and work productively for years and decades.
    – Lodinn
    Feb 4 at 5:15
  • Talk to your supervisor and everyone in your old department about what academic careers look like around the world. They will have a lot of information! Feb 24 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


It is a bit depending on the field you got your PhD in, but generally speaking (as already pointed out in the comments), it is quite impossible to find a permanent position in academia right after your PhD, especially anywhere in and around Germany. This is the reason why so many people are forced to end their careers.

I guess, since you mention settling down, you mean "fixed" in terms of locally fixed. There are few cases where people switch universities or institutes only once and then become permanent there after a while, but there are usually good reasons for that. The best person to ask, if something like this is possible and within reach for you, is your PhD advisor.

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