Why 80,000 Hours?
Our aim is to help as many people as possible lead high-impact careers.
We do this by providing career advice for talented young people who want to have a social impact.
Over a third of young graduates want to make a difference with their careers,1 but they have little idea what to do—many think it’s a choice between working in the social sector or giving up and “selling out.” Existing career advice either doesn’t address the question of how to have a social impact, isn’t based on much research, or doesn’t have much in the way of concrete, comprehensive advice.2
As a result, each year, much of the potential impact of our most talented young people is wasted, either because they end up in low-impact jobs or because they turn away from the idea of making a difference altogether. Our goal is to help our users get the meaningful careers they want, funneling more talent toward the world’s most pressing social problems.
What we do
We do in-depth research into how graduates can make the biggest difference possible with their careers, both through overall career choice and within a given field. We work with academics at the University of Oxford, and have given one-on-one coaching to over 200 people. Read more about why we’re credible.
Based on our research, we’ve built an online career guide. It tells you what to look for in a high-impact career, recommends high-impact options you might not have thought of, and gives you a step-by-step process for making career decisions.
We’re also building a global community of people who want to work together to do the greatest possible good. You can stay in touch through our newsletter, get one-on-one advice, join a student group, and ask for help online.
For much more detail on our progress and plans, see our annual evaluations.
The story so far
80,000 Hours started at Oxford in 2011, when Ben and Will were trying to figure out what to do with their own careers. They couldn’t find any good advice, so did their own research. They presented their ideas in a lecture in February 2011. The lecture caused a quarter of the audience to completely change what they were planning to do with their lives, so they decided to start an organisation.
80,000 Hours was officially launched in November 2011 (and appeared on the BBC shortly afterwards). Ben became the organisation’s first full-time employee in 2012.
Since then, as of August 2015, we’ve raised over $800,000 in funding; been featured on the Washington Post, TED, New York Times; coached over 200 people; written a book published by Penguin; and had over 400,000 people view our online advice.
We’ve recorded over 188 significant plan changes, and former users have donated over $1m to charity, founded ten new organisations, and started careers in research and politics. Read more about our impact.
We keep working on 80,000 Hours because we think it’s the how we can have the largest positive impact in the world. By providing better advice, we can help thousands of other people lead higher-impact careers.
A huge thank you to everyone who has helped along the way.
What’s with the name?
You have about 80,000 working hours in your career. That means your choice of the career is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, so it’s really worth figuring out how to use that time for good.
How are you funded?
We’re a nonprofit funded by individual donors, who give to us so that we can help people like you have a greater impact. We haven’t accepted any corporate sponsorship or advertising fees, so our advice is entirely independent.
We’re part of the effective altruism community, which we helped to start.
We are affiliated with and share offices with Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, which does research into the biggest problems facing humanity. We’re also affiliated with The Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, which aims to enable practical ethics to develop and more effectively guide human choice. (Though we operate entirely independently).
We aim to embody the following values in carrying out our work.
Evidence-based – We always look to the best available evidence to underpin our advice – ideally scientific consensus.
Quality – Your choice of career is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Careers advisers should be more professional than doctors.
Transparent – We make clear how we reach our conclusions, and also any mis-steps we made along the way.
Altruistic – Everything we do is ultimately in pursuit of making the world a better place. If 80,000 Hours is no longer the best project for us, we’ll shut it down.
How can you get involved?
- Find out how to stay updated.
- Get introduced to our research.
- Join our community
- Find out how to support us.
Notes and references
- In a Net Impact survey, 31% reported that making a difference was ‘essential’ in their choice of career. 45% also reported that they would take a 15% pay cut to make more of a difference. In a Guardian survey, over 70% reported that ethical considerations were “crucial” in choosing an employer. In a Bentley University survey, 84% reported that “knowing I am helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important to me than professional recognition”. A survey of millenials by Global Tolerance found "42% of individuals...want to work for an organisation that has a positive impact on the world. Meaningful work that benefitted others was more important than a high salary for 44%"↩
- A 2009 British Youth Council survey, 80% of 12-26 year olds reported that formal careers advice was “a little bit” or “not at all” helpful.↩