Careers and Employability Service

I want to work in a University

Job roles


    Universities are large organisations and often rank amongst an area's top employers. The University of Kent, for example, employs over 2000 staff and Canterbury Christ Church University over 1500.

    Universities offer career opportunities in many different fields, which can be divided into two main categories:

    Academic careers

      An academic position is the main career goal for many research students, and higher education will often offer the best opportunities to use your postgraduate studies directly. However, this is not an easy option: the job market for lecturers and contract researchers is getting tougher and it is increasingly rare for postgraduates to obtain a position as a lecturer immediately after completing their PhD.
      More typically they will start out as a Teaching Assistant/Research Assistant/Postdoctoral Fellow. These will generally be temporary contracts lasting one, two or three years and may lead on to a permanent academic post, although there is no guarantee of this. Teaching posts in particular are likely to be part-time and remunerated only on the number of hours taught.
      Universities will look at more than just the quality of your research: candidates for academic posts should be able to offer all of the following:

      • Publications: you should be able to demonstrate that you have begun to disseminate your work to the wider academic community through published journal articles or books and/or presenting papers at conferences.
      • Teaching experience: teaching at undergraduate level is also an essential part of an academic career and you should take advantage of any opportunities to gain teaching experience during your postgraduate studies. Departments frequently require, or strongly encourage, their research students to do this but, if your own department does not offer any teaching opportunities, you may be able to obtain part-time teaching in further and adult education
      • Administrative skills: academic staff also have a number of administrative responsibilities (such as convening courses, managing exams, sitting on committees, quality assessment, etc.) so any experience of people or project management would be helpful here. The academic job market is highly international with lecturers and postdoctoral researchers moving between countries to find employment and develop their   career.
        Academic posts, both in the UK and abroad, are normally advertised in the Guardian, Times Higher Education and on

      For further information see: Vitae applying for academic jobs

    PROFILE: Lecturer in Higher Education

    INVOLVES: Administration, teaching, marking, research, writing for publication, attending conferences.
    EMPLOYERS: Universities & Higher Education Colleges
    RELATED JOBS: lecturer in Further Education & technical colleges, teaching in secondary schools.
    SATISFACTIONS: Imparting information & interest to others; following personal subject interest through research.
    NEGATIVES: Work overload, the pressure to publish.
    SKILLS: written & spoken communication, leading, analysing, investigating,
    ADVANCEMENT: PhD - lecturer - senior lecturer etc.
    DEGREE: Good Honours degree & PhD in your subject.
    VACANCY SOURCES: Times Higher Education Supplement. The Guardian - Tuesdays
    TIPS: Get a PhD. & develop a track record in research. Get advice from academic staff in your department. Most postdocs are likely to spend several years on temporary contracts before obtaining a permanent post. While some postgraduates will obtain a position as a lecturer in a higher education institution immediately after completing their PhD, this is increasingly rare. More typically they will start out as a Teaching Assistant/Research Assistant/Research Fellow. These will generally be temporary contracts lasting one, two or three years and may lead on to a permanent academic post, although there is no guarantee of this. Some of these posts will be abroad and the PhD market is very much an international one with postdocs. moving between countries.

    See for a detailed job description

    Academic support

      As well as “traditional” academic-related roles, universities are increasingly reducing the administrative role of academic staff by employing staff in a variety of management and support roles. These roles include:

      • Accommodation, catering and conference services
      • Administration
      • Arts, music and events
      • Careers, employability and enterprise
      • Financial management
      • Health & safety
      • Human resource management
      • IT and systems support
      • Library and information services
      • Public relations and marketing posts
      • Scientific support, e.g. laboratory technicians
      • Student welfare and support: counselling and advice services,  disability support, international student support




Careers and Employability Service - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7ND, T: +44 (0)1227 764000 ext. 3299

Last Updated: 19/02/2019