I am in my mid-30s' and have recently found myself in a dilemma. Around 4 years ago I completed a MSc. (Geology) and two professional courses (in other fields) in Northern America as an international student. After concluding them I had to leave Northern America for personal reasons (I came back to Europe).


I applied for 1000s and 1000s of job worldwide (related and unrelated to my background) and consulted several career counselors to introduce myself to the industry at best, asking for help or suggestions to all the people within and outside my network. Unfortunately, I didn't find any job. I had even a lot of complications due to VISA issues.

Possible solution?

Now there seems to be the opportunity to take a PhD in my field. The fact is that I never really wanted to take a doctoral program, as I have always felt uncomfortable in academia and I am not very interested in research itself.


  1. Is it too late to do a PhD at my age?
  2. How do you know PhD is a good fit for yourself?
  3. What job prospects are there for a PhD in Geology (in this challenging economy)?
  4. Are my job prospects better or worse with a PhD?
  • 3
    Noone here (or elsewhere on the net) can tell you whether or not a PhD is a good fit for you, but I think you have already given the answer to Q.2: "The fact is that I never really wanted to take a doctoral program, as I have always felt uncomfortable in academia and I am not very interested in research itself."
    – posdef
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 11:48

1 Answer 1


Your question has several parts and may be considered too wide for this forum. From what I can see you have a question about your own motivation, which only you can answer. Doing a PhD is a hard job and you need to be motivated to do it successfully. Motivation does not have to be to love your task but also to do it for a goal further on. A PhD is furthermore not just an academic path-breaker. In a PhD are a number of useful skills that are sought after, which include critical thinking, writing, presentation, analysis, synthesis etc.

A second part of your question deals with the job market. To my knowledge geology PhDs do not seem to have problems finding jobs. There is demand for PhD level candidates within both exploration and environmental sectors of industry and government. Being from Sweden, it seems a very high percentage of our students do very well. I do not have any statistics for geology but have numbers for Physical Geography and in that field about 7% had "unknown" jobs whereas the rest had employment in academia, public sector, private sector, NGO, and a small proportion in other fields but all relevant to their education (y-scale is in number of PhDs, QG = Quaternary Geology; PG = Physical Geography):

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Statistics from the University of Minnesota Geology department shows similar numbers (now, two data points is not much but I think this provides an indication of the value of a PhD in the field of Earth Sciences):

University of Minnesota Geology graduate careers

Adding to my second point is a point of social skills. With a higher ranking job, come skills beyond the factual content of an education. I already touched upon the skills but if I look at graduates who really have succeeded, in the sense they left academia and got high-paying and interesting, challenging jobs, most have been able to present themselves very well and this part is not to be understated.

In the end, the possibility of success in job searching after doing a PhD is definitely there but it will without doubt also depend on your own interest in pushing and present yourself and the quality of your work/skills and work ethics.

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