Who we are
80,000 Hours is a non-profit organisation dedicated to enabling people to make a bigger difference with their careers. We founded 80,000 Hours because we want to have the biggest possible impact.
We are funded entirely by individual donations, so we are entirely independent of governmental and corporate influence.
The problem: Over a third of students want making a difference to be a priority for their careers,1 but advice on how to put this into action is poor.2 Because of this, every year over half a million graduates fail to make as much difference as they could with their careers.3
Our solution: Become the best source of advice in the world for these graduates and enable them to make far more of a difference with their careers. Through this, help to create a global, evidence-based conversation about how to best use your career to solve the world’s most pressing problems.
Our vision: As many people as possible taking high impact careers.
We aim to embody the following values in carrying out our work.
Evidence-based – We always look to the best and most up-to-date evidence to underpin our understanding, beliefs and advice.
High quality – We take very seriously our responsibility in advising people on their career options. We are dedicated and professional.
Transparent – We make clear how we reach our conclusions, and also any mis-steps we made along the way: we want others to be able to learn from our mistakes.
Altruistic – Everything we do is ultimately in pursuit of making the world a better place.
What we do
We undertake in-depth research into how graduates can make the biggest difference possible with their careers. In practice, this means researching issues like: how to compare two jobs in terms of their impact; which career paths provide the best opportunities; and what are the best ways for people to make career choices.
We use this research in three ways, to help people make better decisions:
- We provide a free online careers guide
- We provide one-on-one career coaching.
- We’re building a community of people who work together to lead high-impact careers, through our newsletter, alumni forum and in-person events.
Our readers, the people we coach, and our community in turn support our research efforts.
To find out more about our plans and what we do, see our latest evaluation.
The story so far
80,000 Hours grew out of a talk by Will MacAskill and Benjamin Todd in February 2011. Will had already co-founded Giving What We Can, which promotes giving more and giving better: donating at least 10% of your income to the world’s most effective charities. Will and Ben wanted to apply the same ideas to their careers, allowing them to determine the best ways to make a difference through their work.
This lecture attracted many of the the organisation’s founding members, and 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.
As of October 2014, we’ve been featured in the Washington Post, TED, the New York Times and many other outlets. We have raised over US$500,000 in funding; reached over 100,000 people with our online careers research; and collected over 100 case studies of career changes.
Our members have donated about US$500,000 to charity; started careers in research and politics; and founded three innovative non-profit organisations – Animal Charity Evaluators, Charity Science and the Global Priorities Project.
Read more about our impact.
We see ourselves as part of a family of “effective altruist” organisations, which take an evidence-based approach to doing good. This includes our sister organisation, Giving What We Can and the other projects within the Centre for Effective Altruism, as well as organisations like GiveWell.
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. It should be noted though that we operate independently from both of the above.
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”.↩
We’ve documented mistakes in existing advice on our getting started page. No-one is systematically working to identify the best opportunities to make a difference with your career. Our perception is that many people are dissatisfied with the quality of career advice they’ve received, which is supported by several surveys. For instance, in 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.↩
Our audience is English-speaking graduates. 1.8m students received bachelor’s degrees in the US in 2013/2014 (Source: Institute of Education Statistics. One third of these students amounts to over half a million.↩