Researcher Careers month - how professional bodies can help your career

Posted in: Academic Career, Advice, For PhDs, Networking

Guest blog post from Dr Robert Bowles from the Royal Society of Chemistry on how getting involved with a professional body can support your career development

How professional bodies can help your career.

What they are and what they do?

The Science Council defines a Professional Body as:

“An organisation with individual members practicing a profession or occupation in which the organisation maintains an oversight of the knowledge, skills, conduct and practice of that profession or occupation.”

So how can they help your career?

Professional bodies are also membership organisations and have extensive networks of professionals who work in the same field as you. They support the careers of their members and offer a wide range of opportunities for you to build your career by getting involved.

Whether you are going for an academic role or not, you will need to communicate your technical expertise and skills to a future employer. Your technical expertise is easy to show; your papers published, your PhD thesis, but what about the other skills that employers value? It can be much harder for you to identify those you have built during your research career, and even harder to communicate good examples of them to a future employer

Getting involved with a professional body, gives you a access to a wider range of experience and networks to draw on to do this. Some of these opportunities are shown below:

What you can do How it can help your career
Apply for a grant ·         Demonstrate track record of attracting funding, especially early on in career
Attend a meeting or conference ·         Network, network, network, to:

·         raise your profile

·         Find collaborators

·         Get a job

Do outreach ·         Demonstrate skills and service
Organise an event ·         Demonstrate skills and service

·         Organisational, budgeting, networking

Join a committee ·         Demonstrate skills and service

·         Network, impact direction of organisation

Publish a paper ·         Papers published
Review a paper ·         Demonstrate service and expertise
Contribute to policy ·         Get noticed, network, show impact of what you do, add it to your narrative CV


Many professional bodies can also offer you professional recognition for your skills and expertise through the award of Chartered status. As an example, the Royal Society of Chemistry awards Chartered Chemist (CChem) to their professional members. CChem can be used as a structure to continue to plan your professional development - it doesn’t stop once you have a PhD  - and recognise the skills you have gained during your PhD and research career. You have learnt how to do research, now you need to learn how to build your other skills for your career. Getting involved with a professional body and achieving chartered status can help you do this.


Dr Robert Bowles MRSC RCDP

Careers and Professional Development Adviser

Royal Society of Chemistry



  • Vitae- Researcher Development Framework- Chartership lens


Posted in: Academic Career, Advice, For PhDs, Networking


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