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Q&A: Post-doc Or Not?

Q&A: Post-doc or not?

I recently received a question on doing a post-doc after the PhD or not (edited for anonymity):

Dear Dr Lantsoght,

I recently discovered your blog through the Academic Transfer website when I was looking for jobs. I really enjoyed the posts, specially the tips about writing the thesis, they will certainly help me during this period. And given your experience in working in different countries, I would like to know your opinion regarding where I am in my career.

I am in Country X finishing my PhD, I have a Masters in and a BSc both done in Country Y(I’m in the XX field). Originally, I thought about following the traditional academic career, becoming a university professor, and I received extensive research training during my studies. But along the way I discovered that what I really like to do is teaching. Preparing materials, giving lectures, helping students, been in the classroom. I love that, and I would like to continue doing so, only the teaching part of the academic career, not the research part.

For that reason, my job search has been a bit frustrating, since it feels like I’m searching for a job that almost doesn’t exist. And I fear that if I don’t do a post-doc and leave research to the side, I will damage my chances into getting an academic job, since almost all of them are for assistant professors to start a lab and conduct independent research (and teaching being a secondary activity). The problem is that thinking about doing a post-doc and work mostly on research projects to pump up my CV is not something I want to do anymore.

Do you think that not doing a post-doc would damage my chances to get a teaching position in higher education? Are there post-doc positions that focus more on teaching than research? Do you know anyone that has gone through something similar, a blog maybe? Is there space in academia for people that only want to teach, not research?

I am looking forward to your reply.


Here’s my answer:

Dear XX,

Thanks for reaching out to me through my blog!

With regard to your question, there are plenty of universities where professors have a teaching load only, or a combination of administration/management and teaching. Not all professors do research. You find this in the USA in teaching universities, in Europe in “Hogescholen” (BSc degrees only), and in Ecuador where I am working, teaching 4 courses per semester is the regular workload (research is not very common).

You can apply to such a position without needing the postdoc. I don’t know about postdoc positions that are teaching-only or teaching-oriented: mostly, post-docs are indeed research positions.

Don’t hesitate to talk to the career counselor at your university as well to help you orientate for the future.

Hope this helps!


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