5 Career Paths that Require a Doctorate Degree

Professions That Require a PhD

  • Psychologist
  • Research Scientist
  • University Professor
  • Healthcare Administrator
  • Attorney

Few careers paths require a doctoral degree, but for some professions, this level of education is required. A doctorate indicates that a person has a high level of expertise in a particular subject, and this is necessary to pursue the professions below.

Related resource: 20 Best Online Schools for Doctorate Degrees

1. Psychologist

While there are a few jobs for psychologists that do not require a doctoral degree, such as in schools or in industry, most psychologists must have one. Psychologists generally must be licensed as well. Most psychologists work with people who have emotional, mental or behavioral disorders, but they might have a number of different specialties and work in varied settings. For example, they might focus on young people or aging populations or on a particular specialty within the professions, such as cognitive psychology or neuropsychology. They may work in their own private practices or in health care facilities.

2. Research Scientist

This is a broad category that encompasses people doing research in the life sciences, astrophysics, artificial intelligence, pharmacology, and many other areas. Research scientists might work for universities, government agencies, nonprofits or in private industry. They create experiments, write up their results, apply for grants, educate the public, and do fieldwork and many other tasks. While it might be possible to work alongside research scientists without having a doctorate, in general, leading projects and doing the high-level research as a scientist requires a doctoral degree.

3. University Professor

Teaching at the university level usually requires a doctoral degree. Some professors might also be research scientists, but professors might work in many other areas as well. They might also be historians, anthropologists, philosophers, economists or work in any other area that they also teach in. In addition to research and teaching, professors publish papers in their area of expertise, sit on committees, present at conferences and advise students.

4. Healthcare Administrator

Healthcare administrators run hospitals, large health care systems, and medical practices. While not every healthcare administrator has a doctoral degree, prospects are limited for people who do not have an advanced degree. Many people who work in healthcare administration have a background in the field of healthcare and may return to school to get a higher degree and pursue a career in administration. Health care administrators may create budgets, manage staff, and deal with policy among other tasks.

5. Attorney

Some people may not realize that a degree from law school is known as a Juris Doctor and is another type of doctoral degree. To practice as a lawyer, it is necessary to get this degree and to pass the state bar exam. Lawyers may work in many different areas. Some work at large firms with corporate clients while others may work in criminal law as defense attorneys or prosecutors. They may work in private practices or for the state. Some attorneys work for nonprofits, helping people who would otherwise be unable to afford an attorney. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this profession is expected to grow at an average rate over the next 10 years.

Even in career areas that do not necessarily require a doctorate, at the highest levels of government and academia, an advanced degree may be necessary to reach the best opportunities. People who are considering careers may want to look at what level of educational attainment is necessary for success. It can be both challenging and rewarding to pursue a career path that requires the level of mastery provided by a doctoral degree.