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International PostDocs – Country Guides

Postdoctoral research opportunities can vary from country to country. In some countries, a PostDoc position is not necessarily called a PostDoc, or in some cases, these sorts of specific fixed-term appointments for recent PhD graduates aren’t commonly offered. However, there are plenty of PostDoc opportunities out there and widening your search across the globe increases the chances of finding the perfect position. Experience of working and researching abroad can also enhance your academic CV or open up new career opportunities beyond the university.

Here, we provide an overview of what a PostDoc means in the UK and rest of Europe, the USA and different countries around the world.

You can search current PostDoc opportunities in a range of countries here.

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UK

In the UK, postdoctoral research contracts usually last for up to three years as temporary, fixed term, positions. A PhD (or equivalent) is required to do a PostDoc. In turn, completing a postdoctoral position of at least one year is generally an advantage if you plan to apply for an early-career academic position at a British university. However, it is also perfectly possible to apply for a university job without completing a PostDoc.

While the majority of PostDocs work in STEM fields, these positions are becoming more common in Social Sciences and Humanities. PostDocs can have the opportunity to teach, and this is encouraged if you want to follow a career into academia.

Search PostDoc opportunities in the UK.

Europe

It is common to go on to do a PostDoc in Europe. This is true for countries such as The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. Some PhD graduates stay on for a PostDoc position at the same university, but it can also be helpful to do yout PostDoc at another university or in another country.

European postdoctoral positions and their subsequent career paths vary. For example, there are three different career pathways in Norway: the research career pathway, the teaching career pathway, and the research and teaching career pathway. Research institutes use the research career pathway, while colleges favour the teaching pathways and universities may accept either.

In Sweden, like in the UK, PostDocs can either be offered on a stipend / fellowship basis (as a form of grant funding), or include an employment contract with their university. Stipend PostDocs are not usually entitled to the benefits that come with an employment contract, but they aren’t taxed.

In Austria, PostDocs are often an explicit route to an academic job. Research goals are set for the PostDoc / Assistant Professor to accomplish during the contract; these then become prerequisites for promotion to a permanent position.

The table below summarises the length and salaries of PostDoctoral positions in different countries within Europe.

Country Name Length Average Salary
Austria Assistant Professor/PostDoc 6 years €40,695
Belgium (Flemmish) Doctor-Assistant positions 3 years €45,604
Belgium (French) Charge de recherches Up to 4 years €45,604
Cyprus Research assistant 3 years €20,230
Denmark PostDoc 4 years €30 – 40,000 DKK
Finland PostDoc 2-3 years €43,726
The Netherlands PostDoc 2 years €37082
Norway PostDoc 3 years 514,015 kr
Spain Profesor Ayudante Doctor 2 years €29,710
Sweden Forskarassistent 2-3 years 330,000 kr
Switzerland PostDoc/Research assistant II 3 years (6 years max.) €80,899
UK PostDoc/Research Assistant 1-3 years £31,990
Data is collected from the European University Institute and payscale.

USA

The standard format for a PostDoc in the USA is a contract between one and four years, but there is no upper limit to the number of years you can spend. Competition for US PostDoc positions can be tougher for students from British and European three- or four-year PhDs (which are shorter than most American doctoral programmes). Academic positions (including PostDocs) in the USA are also generally competitive, though there is a larger pool of potential employers

Search PostDoc opportunities in the USA.

Other countries

The table below shows the length and salary of PostDoctoral positions in some other countries around the world.

Country Name Length Average Salary
Australia PostDoc 2-3 years $80,050
Canada PostDoc/Instructor 1-3 years $45,792
USA PostDoc/Instructor 1-4 years $48,825
New Zealand PostDoc 1-3 years $71,173
Data is collected from the European University Institute and payscale.


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