In Italy, a researcher can work:

  • in the public sector, such as universities and public research institutions
  • in the private sector, such as private research institutions, companies and profit/non-profit services

In the public sector:

In the university, you can work as a researcher only after passing a selection process that takes place through a competition. To participate in the selection, usually, the possession of a doctoral degree or an equivalent qualification in another country is required. In the university field, the position of researcher represents the first step of one’s career. The following are those of associate professor (or second level) and full professor (or first level). Access is by public competition based on qualifications and tests.

In the private sector:

The researcher operates within private companies generally as an employee with temporary or permanent contracts. Furthermore, it is possible to carry out your activity as a self-employed consultant in private companies, consultancy firms and professional offices.
At least one specialist degree is required in the disciplinary field in which research activities are to be carried out.

In public and private research organizations, one’s career begins in a research assistant position and may culminate in the direction of research centers or organizations or in the transition to other managerial positions.

The different researcher and career figures

The main non-structured figures (period limited from two to four years, depending on the case) are:

  • The doctorate or specialization student is a third level student after the specialist degree, who is trained to carry out research after passing a competition, based on qualifications and exams, and benefitting from a scholarship. In Italy the doctorate is a course of study and therefore the doctorate is a student. On the basis of the ministerial decree of April 9, 2001, the doctoral student is entitled to the same services that are assigned to students of second level degree courses.
  • The research fellow is a role normally held by a graduate who obtains a scholarship through a competition. Each research grant can have a minimum duration of one year and a maximum of three years.

The main structured figures (contracted) are:

  • A researcher who can be:
  • a fixed-term type A (RTDA) which is a three-year subordinated contract that can be extended for an additional two years
  • a fixed-term type B (RTDB), which is a three-year subordinate contract that cannot be extended, but in a tenure track (i.e. with the possibility of a role change without the need to win a public competition). In particular, type B researchers can become associate professors (with permanent contracts) if during the three years they have obtained the National Scientific Qualification from associate professor (or ordinary professor) and if upon the expiry of the contract they receive the approval of the structure in which they work in.
  • an indefinite contract
  • associate professor (or second level)
  • full professor (or first level). The functions of Rector, Dean of the Faculty, as well as the functions of coordination of research doctorate courses and coordination between research groups are reserved for first level professors.

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