Key skills of researchers

Completing a Physics degree will give you a useful set of key skills which are appealing to employers. The skills that are developed as a researcher are even more valued in the labour market, but they are not always well presented by researchers.  This section describes some of the skills which you will have cultivated through your research experience.

As a researcher you will have developed professional working relationships with your supervisor and colleagues, you will set and meet deadlines, communicate results using a variety of methods. Your research project has to be managed, giving you project planning and management skills, and you will also manage your own work load and motivation. The autonomous nature of your work gives you a strong work ethic and personal effectiveness that equips you for a wide range of challenging possibilities. All these skills will make you more effective in other workplaces as well as preparing your for an academic career.

You will find more detail on why these skills are valued by employers and suggestions of how to develop them further in Moving On: The physics PhD student’s guide to boosting employability which focuses on skills which are relevant and important in a wide range of careers, including:

  • Independence – being able to work without close supervision, managing your own time and projects
  • Critical thinking – being able to evaluate your work and that of others, making judgments about the value of information and drawing conclusions from data.
  • Problem solving – working without “a right answer” and devising strategies to work towards a solution
  • Contributing as a professional – presenting work to your peers, managing discussions and defending your position, having the confidence to put forwards ideas to senior staff
  • Initiative – having the confidence to make decisions and act on them, not waiting for approval to do basic tasks, but reporting back responsibly at appropriate times

You can find more information about other skills developed during research on the Vitae website