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What is an Audiologist? Strategies for Entry into Graduate Schools Thinking About a PhD in Audiology?
Thinking about a PhD? How do I apply What are career opportunities?

What are career opportunities?
Questions in this section relate to academic and research career options after completion of the PhD.

What are the career opportunities?

What are the career options after I complete my PhD?

Remember that the purpose of a PhD program is to prepare individuals for an academic/research career. However, there is no "one" academic/research career. Across the more than 200 accredited master's or AuD programs (which may or may not also have undergraduate or PhD programs), there is great variety in the nature of the programs and the nature of careers that are developed within these departments.

Some faculty positions are strongly focused on research and research activities constitute the bulk of the professor's responsibilities. Some faculty positions are strongly focused on teaching and teaching activities constitute the bulk of the professor's responsibilities. And there are many variations in between. You can find faculty positions that include clinical teaching and clinical supervision, and those that do not. In addition, you can find clinical/research positions, for example, at hospitals that include research in their mission. There truly is an enormous range of possibilities; explore your options by talking to faculty at different types of universities and Schools.

What is a post-doctoral experience?

Postdoctoral training is very typical as a career step for researchers in the "hard" sciences (e.g., biology or physics) but it has been less common in the social and behavioral sciences. However, postdoctoral training is becoming more common in the social and behavioral sciences as it has become apparent that to be successful in a large research university (i.e., Research Extensive Universities) additional research training beyond the PhD is essential.

In postdoctoral training, the new PhD graduate typically goes to a university different from where he or she got the PhD and continues research training with a successful and grant-funded researcher. The postdoctoral training, usually 2 years in length, will typically involve working on some of the mentor's projects and beginning to develop an independent line of research.

Funding for postdoctoral training can come from the mentor's grant funds, from institutional postdoctoral training grants, or from an individual postdoctoral grant. The NIH provides post-doctoral funding. 

In your PhD program, your mentor can provide guidance on whether postdoctoral training is a good choice for you and on how to find a postdoctoral training experience that will match your research interests and career goals.

What salary can I expect to earn as a brand-new assistant professor?

The American Association University of Professors collects information on salaries that can be particularly helpful. In considering compensation, one will want to consider the whole compensation package - salary; retirement benefits, health insurance, and other benefits; and typical raises (cost-of-living raises and merit raises) over the past several years.

Most faculty members are on 9-month contracts and, if they choose, they can earn additional compensation for summer school teaching or funded research in the summer. Other faculty members are on 12-month contracts, and their salary typically exceeds a 9-month contract salary. Many universities allow, and may even expect. their faculty members to spend some time in consultation activities that provide additional compensation, such as continuing education workshops.

What does a faculty member do in his or her job?

Potential doctoral students typically understand the classroom-instructor role of a faculty member. After all, they have spent years in college classrooms. The other parts of the academic job seem to be less well understood. A faculty member's job responsibilities are usually divided into three categories: teaching, research, and services.

  • Teaching can include typical classroom teaching as well as clinical teaching or supervision and supervision of student research activities (undergraduate research, master's theses, and doctoral dissertations). Most faculty members teach two classes per semester, though this number may vary (more teaching, less teaching) depending on other responsibilities.
  • Research and other scholarly activities are part of all faculty members' jobs, but the amount of effort devoted to research varies across universities. When research is a major part of the university's mission, faculty members will engage in research for a substantial proportion of their time, and many faculty members will have extramural grant funding to support their research programs. These are the same programs where faculty members will devote effort to training PhD students. At smaller universities, research may occupy less of a faculty member's efforts, and the nature of the research faculty members engage in may be different. For example, at a small, liberal arts undergraduate institution, the faculty member's research efforts may be focused on providing undergraduate students initial research training.
  • The services segment of a faculty member's job includes service to the university, to the department, and to the profession or the community. Activities can include, for example, advising students, serving on university and departmental committees, and peer-reviewing manuscripts for scholarly journals.

The best way to learn about a faculty member's job is to ask a faculty member. You are likely to find many people who are willing to share the scope of their job with you. And remember that the profile of activities in teaching, research, and services that a faculty member engages in will vary by the type of college or university in which he or she is employed.

Are there differences in jobs at different universities?

Yes, jobs vary quite a bit across types of universities. PhD programs are at Research-Extensive Universities and, thus, what you see your mentor in your doctoral program do in his or her job may be quite different than positions at other universities or Schools.

The Carnegie Foundation classifies universities and Schools with respect to the mission of the university. You may find this classification helpful in looking at jobs at different types of universities/Schools. You can find communication sciences and disorders departments at just about every type of academic institution.

Exploring the different types of jobs can give a prospective doctoral student a good sense of the wide-range of opportunities available upon completion of the PhD. Contact your professors from your undergraduate program and master's program and ask them to tell you about their job. Ask them to refer you to faculty members at other institutions who can share their experiences at a different type of institutions.

Can I have a job where I do research but don't teach? What about a job where I combine clinical work and research? What about a job where I teach but don't do research?

You can find just about every type of job in communication sciences and disorders (CSD)! There are some people in CSD whose job is completely focused on research activities and teaching is not within their typical scope of activities. These people participate in service activities, just like faculty members who teach. There are also some people in CSD who divide the majority of their time between clinical activities and research activities. You are likely to find these individuals working at hospitals in which research is an important component of the hospital's mission. And you can find some jobs where teaching and service are the primary activities.

What about publish or perish?

Dissemination of knowledge is part of every faculty member's job, but the nature of this dissemination can vary depending on the university's or college's mission. The typical teaching of faculty members is part of dissemination of knowledge. Publications, whether they are journal articles, book chapters, or books, are important avenues for the faculty member's dissemination of knowledge.

The number and types of publications that are expected of a faculty member vary across types of institutions. Publications can include reports of research, tutorials on topics of interest to the professions, review articles that summarize and evaluate the current state of the art, and clinical application of research findings as well as assessment and intervention procedures. Presentations at conferences and professional meetings (local, state, national) also are considered part of one's publication record. As part of the interview process when seeking an academic position, job candidates will want to inquire as to the university and department's expectations for publication and presentation.

Will I lose my whole personal life to the job?

Certainly jobs at universities and Schools are demanding positions, as are many other jobs. Seeking a balance between work and personal life is a challenge that seems to extend across the many years of a career, regardless of where that career is spent. You should carefully consider and plan how you will balance work with other personal goals and expectations. The Chronicle of Higher Education has had many features on this topic lately; some of these references are listed on our site . In addition, look for recent publications in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

What is tenure? What's the difference between assistant, associate, and full professor?

Understanding the hiring and rank system of universities is critical. Most universities hire faculty on "tenure-track" appointments. Tenure refers to a university's commitment to continue a faculty member in a faculty position at a particular rank, typically Associate Professor or Professor, until the faculty member voluntarily leaves or terminates his or her employment or retires.

Faculty members begin at the Assistant Professor level, without tenure. After a probationary period of several years (often 5-7 years), the faculty member hired on a tenure-track position is eligible to apply for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. Each university has a specified process for tenure and promotion, as well as specified expectations for tenure.

When interviewing for academic positions, you will want to obtain information on tenure and promotion; this information is most often available in some sort of faculty manual and departmental documents. Faculty members are evaluated on teaching, research, and services to determine whether tenure and promotion will be awarded.

Promotion to Professor is considered, for the most part, several years after promotion to Associate Professor. Although in a tenure-track position it is mandatory to be considered for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor after a specified period of time, promotion considerations to Professor are not mandatory and have no time limit (nor any adverse consequences). If an Assistant Professor is not recommended for promotion and tenure following the probationary period and tenure review process, then the faculty member is given a terminal contract (typically for a year) and seeks employment elsewhere.

In the probationary period, faculty members usually receive an annual review and written feedback on progress toward tenure. In addition, there is usually at least one extensive pre-tenure review in about the third year of the probationary period.  The Chronicle of Higher Education has published many informative articles on tenure.

What about having a family?

Balancing family and career is a challenge for men as well as women. Universities are becoming increasingly cognizant of the issues that confront faculty members as they address their family obligations. Some typical issues confronting universities and Schools include dual-career couples, childcare, and maternity and paternity leave, to name a few. The Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications have devoted much attention to these issues in the past few years.

Not only have universities and Schools acknowledged that these issues are of concern, but the issues have begun to be addressed at many universities. Extensions of the tenure clock are no longer unheard of and child care options on campus are increasing, for example. Importantly, there is a tendency for these issues to be seen as family issues rather than as women's issues.

When looking for a faculty position, you will want to carefully consider your expectations and think about fitting or matching your expectations with the university's expectations of you. Ask about how the university supports family issues. For many people, the flexibility of a faculty position can be a plus in balancing family and career demands. Although clearly the work needs to be done, the time of the day that the work is done may be flexible, for example. A faculty member may choose to teach classes at night so as to balance child care responsibilities with his or her spouse. Or a faculty member may choose to begin the work day later so as to spend the early morning hours at home, or begin the day early so he or she can be home with the children after school.

Will I have to relocate frequently?

Choosing to pursue an academic career can necessitate at least a couple of moves. Many people find it necessary to relocate to complete the PhD because they don't live by a university that provides doctoral training in their area of interest. Typically, once you have finished the PhD you will seek employment at a new university; very few people assume a faculty position where they have been trained.

If you undertake postdoctoral training, you will most likely do so with a new mentor, as the purpose of the postdoctoral training is to expand and extend your research skills. Some people assume a faculty position where they have done postdoctoral training, and some do not. So you may need to relocate after the postdoctoral training.

Many faculty members stay at the same institution for the length of their career, moving from assistant to associate to full professor. Because there are now so many job openings in communication sciences and disorders, we are seeing more movement of faculty from one program to another than is likely typical in other fields.

Faculty may move from one program to another for various reasons, such as to assume a position of leadership (e.g., become program chair), to take advantage of career opportunities that are specific to a university (e.g., several faculty working together in a particular area), to focus their professional efforts in a particular area (e.g., increasing research efforts; focus on teaching efforts).

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What is an Audiologist? Strategies for Entry into Graduate Schools Thinking About a PhD in Audiology?
Thinking about a PhD? How do I apply What are career opportunities?
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