If I am a PhD holder, and if the job that I am applying for is in the same (or similar) field as what my PhD education was about, would companies consider my PhD education as a "work experience"?

For example, there are some jobs that asks for a Master's degree or higher, as well as the 4-5 years of work experience. While I am not a Master's degree holder with 5 years of work experience, I have PhD in the same field as the job. I am trying to apply for Biostatistician position with Clinical Research/Pharmaceutical companies

Would companies consider my PhD education as something that satisfies the years of work experience requirement?

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    It depends. Not really sure how this can get a meaningful answer other than that? – enderland Apr 29 '18 at 17:15
  • @enderland could you clarify more for me? What are the examples of situations when PhD is not considered as equivalent to having a "work experience"? I am trying to apply for Biostatistician position with Clinical Research/Pharmaceutical companies – jschnieder Apr 29 '18 at 17:17
  • For me personally though I don't think I'd consider then equivalent. But every industry is different. – enderland Apr 29 '18 at 17:18
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    It would be different is they specifically wanted industry experience. You can still apply and find out. VTC as this will vary by company. – paparazzo Apr 29 '18 at 17:24
  • @paparazzo thank you for your comments. May I ask what VTC stands for? – jschnieder Apr 29 '18 at 17:31

It depends on the company. But most companies I know (large internationals) don't consider it work experience unfortunately.

I came across some that do, however. For example at some consulting companies (AFAIK McK and BCG) you receive a higher grade when starting if you've completed a PhD or an MBA.

But you don't lose anything by trying.

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No, although...

  • An employer may consider accepting the PhD experience an equivalent of a Masters plus (however long it took you to get the PhD). Since this will vary wildly by employer, major, and position you'll have to get their feedback. This is pretty common for many positions.
  • I would think that most professors in your department, and maybe your college recruiting office, would have a very good understanding of how your major translates to the above 'equivalent experience'.

Good luck.

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  • I think this is exactly correct, but could benefit from explicitly addressing both questions. The one is "Is a PhD work experience?", with an answer of "No". If asked how much work experience you have, you shouldn't pad it to account for the PhD, because that can get you immediately disqualified for lying. And the second "Would the PhD satisfy the requirement for experience beyond a master's?" which is a definite "Probably." – Ben Voigt Apr 29 '18 at 19:42

It's all in the way you frame it. Some non-PhD holders may assume that getting your PhD involved taking classes and studying for tests. It's on you to explain that you were actually a researcher. For example, you can put "doctoral researcher" or (arguably) "researcher" as your title (rather than student).

These requirements are very squishy, at least in the US. They say they want master's plus five years. That can mean:

  1. They actually want a master's + 5 years. They consider PhDs to be overqualified and master's with no experience to be underqualified
  2. They want a "mid-level position", and anyone with master's + 5 years or roughly equivalent will be fine
  3. The hiring manager wants #2, but HR thinks they want #1, so you have to "trick" HR to get to the hiring manager
  4. Many other things

There is no down-side to applying. Apply, frame it well, and claim that you're qualified -- either they'll buy it or they won't. If they don't, nothing is lost; if they do, you might get a job.

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  • About "framing it": trying doesn't cost anything, but especially big companies normally have formal procedures for that and putting it in one way or another won't change anything. – BigMadAndy Apr 29 '18 at 19:24

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