Should You Invest Money In Your Non-Academic Career?


Let’s admit it. Academics do not like to talk about money. Why? The reasons may vary depending on whom you ask. But one thing is for sure: in this day and age, when one looks at Phd employment opportunities on university campuses, academics might avoid talking about money because the ROI on their Ph.D. is low. What is ROI? Simply put, ROI (return on investment) is a performance measure used to assess the efficiency of an investment.


Earning a Ph.D. requires students to invest an incredible amount of time and energy. Considering that a fifth of Ph.D. students finish their doctoral programs with more than $30,000 in debt, earning a Ph.D. is also a financial investment. Is poor ROI the reason Ph.D. graduates refuse to invest money in their post-academic career development? Are we, as Ph.D.s, less inclined to invest MORE money in books, self-assessment tools, workshops, hired help, or courses designed to update or acquire skills for the simple reason that we consider that all the time, energy, and money we’ve put in our studies should be recognized by academia only? Do so many of us settle for less for the very simple reason that investing a little more into our professional development feels like a waste of our previous efforts?


When you think about how much time we spend at work, refusing to invest in professional development seems like a refusal to look at the impact career growth has on our wellbeing and happiness. That’s why we as academics need to think ahead and make proactive and informed investments to find the post-Phd employment we deserve.

Here are a few reasons academics should stop avoiding the “M” word as they prepare for post-academic life:

  • It costs money to make money. By investing your money in books and courses that improve your skills and capabilities, you can use what you learn to build your profile and push yourself forward. Your career is your primary source of income. The more you invest in it, the better your become and the more money you get out of it by securing better and bigger jobs, which means more promotions, bigger salaries, and more opportunities.


  • Investing in your career is investing in yourself, your freedom, and your future. The more informed you are, the better decisions you make, and the more in control of your future you are. It’s that simple. By taking the wheel, you stop depending on others.


  • The world beyond the ivory tower is complex. You cannot know everything you need to know or do everything you need to do alone. You can’t be your best without help. Find and invest in those who can teach you, show you the way, and help you achieve your goals.


  • It’s the ultimate ROI on the sacrifices you’ve made. The return on investing in and improving yourself is astronomically higher than any financial investment you could make. From improved lifetime earning power and opportunities, to the fulfilment that comes from personal growth and achievements, and avoiding unemployment, the returns are enormous. There’s no price on that!


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  • Jake

    April 7, 2017 at 10:52 am Reply

    Interesting. It is frustrating, however, to think that most PhDs already have invested money in their studies and will have to invest even more to get out of academia!

    • philippe barr

      April 8, 2017 at 3:57 pm Reply

      Unfortunately, it’s the sad truth. The good thing is that, in the case of investing on your non-academic career, you will clearly see the return on the money you invested in building your profile as a job seeker. A few hundred dollars could have a huge impact on your starting salary. You multiply this increase over a few years and the ROI is enormous.

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