Translating your Skills from Academia into Business

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Have you ever considered taking your academic and research skills into the world of business? You may be seeking a fresh challenge or simply want to enjoy a second income.

Academia and business may seem poles apart but you may be surprised at how portable your skills are.

Subject Expertise

Well trodden routes include:

Research for external bodies

This may be for privately owned foundations or for business organisations. Roles in industry are more numerous for scientists and engineers, but there are also many possibilities in quantitative subjects (in finance and consulting) and in social sciences (for example in thinktanks and market/ social research) as well as pockets of opportunity in the arts.


Opportunities in the commercial world vary depending on subject  .You may be able to offer consulting services direct to organisations in your field or via commercial consultancies.

Other potential areas to apply subject knowledge are:

  • Academic Publishing (including writing school  and undergraduate textbooks)
  • External Examination setting and Assessment (for professional bodies as well as academic boards)
  • Journalism (both print and online)
  • Private Tutoring for individuals and groups and Guest Lecturing

You may also want to reflect on the transferable skills you  have developed  including

Teaching Skills

Teaching and public speaking skills can transfer into training and development roles in private business beyond your subject area.  Your skillset may include

  • Designing, preparing and delivering lectures
  • Designing e-learning modules
  • Facilitating small group seminars
  • Addressing peers at conferences
  • One to one tuition and coaching
  • Providing feedback and assessment

Roles in organisations and training consultancies may include

  • Delivering training and lectures as well as
  • Identifying training needs for individuals and groups and
  • Designing training interventions involving external suppliers

Interpersonal Skills

Along with the communications skills learnt in a teaching environment you may have developed:

  • Influencing and negotiating skills (from writing funding bids, securing resources from within your dept etc)
  • Creating and presenting ideas (in your teaching, or to draw in external funding)
  • Teamworking
  • Mentoring and coaching (of young lecturers and PhDs/post docs)

Management Skills

This may be an increasingly large part of your role involving

  • Project Management
  • Line Management (hiring, developing, motivating and assessing performance)
  • Financial  and resource management
  • Marketing (eg student recruitment )

These skills are in great demand in business in areas as diverse as sales, management consulting, human resources, public relations, facilities management, procurement and so on.

A quick search of the jobs listings on the day of this article brought up

  • A health consultancy advertising for a medical writer
  • A chain of private colleges recruiting an Education Liaison Executive for schools
  • A food manufacturer needing a New Product Development Technologist
  • A hedge fund with opportunities in scientific /financial research

Refine your search by seeking ‘Commercial Organisations’ in ‘Employer Type’ and make sure you sign up for email alerts.

Find out more information about the careers mentioned here at

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