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 alongside academics at Oxford into how graduates can make the biggest difference possible with their careers, both through overall career choice and within a given field.
Based on this, we provide:
- An online career guide and supporting articles and tools. The guide 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. Over 4 million people have visited the website and our newsletter has over 170,000 subscribers.
- In-person advice, such as our workshop and one-on-one follow up. In 2016, we delivered the workshop to over 2,000 people.
Links to a global community of people who want to work together to have the greatest possible positive impact.
For much more detail on our progress and plans, see our annual evaluations.
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.
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, we’ve raised millions of dollars of funding; been featured on the Washington Post, TED, New York Times; coached over 200 people; written a book published by Penguin; had millions of people read our advice, and help thousands of people change their career.
We keep working on 80,000 Hours because we think it’s the way 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.
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 recruiters or advertising fees, so our advice is entirely independent.
We’re part of the effective altruism community, which we helped to start.
We’re affiliated with Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, which does research into the biggest problems facing humanity, and shared offices with them for most of our history (though today we’re based in Berkeley, CA). The academics there still regularly advise us on our research. 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.
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.
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, so want our advice to be astonishingly in-depth, and believe that careers advisers should be more professional than doctors.
Transparent – We make clear how we reach our conclusions, and also any mistakes we made along the way.
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, Millennials in the Workplace, 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 millennials 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.↩