The question is mostly addressed to those ho have crossed to the other side (i.e., left academia): what are the options for career growth outside of the academia?

Note that the question is not about "what kind of job I could do outside of academia with my degree" - I have successfully handled that part (I am a physicist-turned-computational biologist/bioinformatician). Rather it is what are the possibilities for further growth: is acquiring managerial experience the only option? Could one advance by broadening or deepening one's expertise in a particular field (like becoming a solicited expert/consultant)? Are there other options?

Or perhaps, the premises of my question are wrong, and are still influenced by my past in academia, where the career paths are pretty well outlined: PhD student -> postdoc -> junior professor -> senior professor -> perhaps branching into going along the administrative line (department director, provost) or collecting academic honors (up to a Nobel Prize) or getting plenty of research grants (all of which possibly accompanied by switching to ever more prestigious Universities.)

  • 2
    What do you consider "growth"? More money?
    – user111388
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 16:16
  • @user111388 Please do remember that there are other values in the world besides the money. Thank you!
    – Roger V.
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 16:20
  • 5
    I do remember, but it is your question. Therefore you should describe your values. Some people e.g. consider it as "career growth" if they have a job where they can slack off.
    – user111388
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 16:23
  • 4
    Nobody says money is wrong. All I'm saying is you should define "career growth" if you ask about it.
    – user111388
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 16:29
  • 2
    See meta discussion in academia.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5363/22733
    – jakebeal
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 10:25

2 Answers 2


Many large companies have separate tracks for technical people and for managerial people. You can rise in both directions, and so if management is not what you aspire to, you can focus on the technical track. People high up in this direction often have technical oversight over projects, and provide their long experience, without having to do the human resource side of managing people.

  • +1 Thanks, that's helpful... though very brief. Could you give some examples or keywords for further exploration?
    – Roger V.
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 16:56
  • 1
    "technical track" is the key word. Companies such as Google and IBM have those. Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 22:28

I've posted this before. "Get Good!"


Life advice in a video game metaphor.

Keep your eyes open for parts of industry that do research in your general area. Maybe you can change jobs. Maybe you can get contracts. Make contacts. Go to conferences and chat up other people in your industry. Find out what they are doing that looks interesting.

Keep building skill sets. Find ways to be more valuable to your company. Management is a possibility. But becoming the local expert in something your company does will make you valuable. They will be eager to do things that make you want to stay.

And keep your eyes open for the thing that "glimmers." If there is some aspect of your industry that you are motivated to work on, get into it. Whether it's fun or just the kind of problem that you just naturally work on. If you are motivated, you will work longer, harder, more attentively.

Keep in mind that it takes time to become an expert in anything. So don't expect to become a "big shot" over night. Still, keep looking for progress of some kind. If you are stuck, look for changes that could get you un-stuck. Different approach, different projects, different division of your company, even a move to a different company.

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