Find a high-impact career

If you’re interested in one of our priority paths, we’d like to talk one-on-one. We’ve helped over 500 people choose where to focus, make connections, and find fulfilling jobs that tackle the world’s most important problems.

Due to high demand, you can’t apply directly right now. Join the waitlist and we’ll send you an invitation to apply as soon as possible.







How we can help

We’d like to talk whether you’re changing career, planning your next step after graduation, or are already in a priority area and want to maximise your impact. Here are some ways we can help:

Review your plan

We’ll use our research to look for blindspots, and ensure you haven’t missed a great option. We can help you analyse which priority path is best for you, compare it to your other options, and find the best options within a path.

Introductions

To help you succeed within a path, we can introduce you to mentors, funders, and collaborators. We can have a greater impact if we work together as a community.

Job opportunities

We work closely with many of the organisations in our paths, so we can tell you about relevant job and funding opportunities, and help you get an interview.

What are our priority paths?

We’re most able to help people who are interested in at least one of the priority paths that we describe in this article.

You don’t need to have chosen a path already — we can help you narrow them down, and compare these paths to your other options. If you’re already in a path, we can help you improve your chances of success.

The next few decades might see the development of powerful machine learning algorithms with the potential to transform society. This could potentially have both huge upsides and downsides, including “existential” risks. We want to find people to do foundational research into what governments and society should do to manage the long-term risks from advanced AI. This research could involve economics, politics, political science, security studies, international relations, history, and many other disciplines, as well as an understanding of AI, and mostly takes place with academia or leading AI companies like Google DeepMind. We can help you figure out what to study to enter this area, work out whether it’s for you, and then find jobs and funding. We’re in touch with many of the key researchers and funders in this area, such as the Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford.

Governments need to hire experts in AI and its social impact to safely manage this transition. We can help you develop relevant expertise, and find relevant jobs in the civil service, political parties, think tanks, scientific funding bodies, technology journalism, industry, and other areas – though we’re mostly focused on government positions. We can introduce you to mentors with backgrounds in the US and UK governments, and other people on this path. We’re most able to help people who are interested in working on reducing the long-term risks, rather than short-term challenges like automation and/or lethal autonomous weapons, and who have engaged with the arguments as outlined in Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom.

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We want to support people to undertake research in computer science aimed at solving the “AI alignment problem” and related issues. We can help you enter a relevant graduate programme in machine learning (or sometimes neuroscience, maths, logic, or physics), by introducing you to mentors and peers, helping you self-study, and finding funding. If you already have a background in the area, we can introduce you to many of the key researchers in the field to help you choose a research question, including people at OpenAI, DeepMind, CHAI, FHI and more. We can also introduce you to many of the leading funders of this research, such as the AI Fellows Program.

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Grantmaking involves being able to survey the opportunities available in an area, and come to reasonable judgements about their likelihood of success, and probable impact if they do succeed. Grantmakers also need to build a good network, both so they can identify opportunities early, and identify groups with good judgement and the right intentions. In addition, grantmakers need to get into a position where they’re trusted by major funders, and this requires having some kind of relevant track record.

If you’re a good fit for one of these positions, then you can have a huge impact. We think top grantmakers working in effective altruism can create value equal to millions or even tens of millions of dollars per year in donations to top problem areas, making it one of the highest-impact positions right now.

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There are many organisations in the effective altruism community that are short of staff in a wide range of roles, from operations and management, to marketing and writing, to design and web engineering. As one of the groups that founded the community, we know all the main organisations, so we can help you find the best jobs available, or prepare to enter roles which come up in the future. We can also help you find funding for new projects. We’re especially keen to talk if you’ve already been involved in the community for at least a year, or if you have proven skills that the organisations are recruiting for.

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Within working at effective altruism organisations, we’d like to especially highlight roles in operations.

Operations staff enable everyone else in the organisation to focus on their core tasks and maximise their productivity. They’re especially crucial for enabling an organisation to increase in scale.

As we’ve argued, these positions seem especially in-demand right now, both within the core effective altruism organisations and the broader global catastrophic risk community. There are many open positions and organisation leaders often say this skill-set is their biggest bottleneck.

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We’re looking for researchers who want to work on foundational, high-level questions on how to compare different global priorities, and find the best ways to increase global welfare (particularly in the areas of economics and philosophy). We can introduce you to the researchers who founded the field in Oxford, and help you find a relevant research question in academia. We can also help you work out what to study in order to contribute in the future, and get funding for graduate school.

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Pandemics pose a global catastrophic risk, which could increase as advances in bioengineering make it possible to create designer pandemics that are more deadly than naturally occurring ones. Government is the main line of defence against these challenges, so we want to help people seek relevant roles in government, such as at the Centers for Disease Control in the US and the World Health Organization internationally. We want to help people develop better policy proposals, perhaps working in think tanks or academia. We’re also interested in how to safely manage the introduction of other potentially transformative discoveries in biology, such as genetic engineering, and are keen to advise people interested in these issues. We’re in touch with people with backgrounds in the US and UK governments who can advise on these careers, as well as the Open Philanthropy Project, which is a leading funder in this space.

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If you’re seeking a high-earning career in order to “earn to give” in the future, especially in quant trading or technology entrepreneurship, we can make introductions to help you get started on the path. We’re in touch with people who recruit for quant hedge funds and are members of the Y Combinator community. We may also be able to help with other high-earning jobs, such as law, management, and consulting.

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China will play a role in many of the biggest challenges of the next century, including emerging technology and global catastrophic risks. However, few in the West and in our community have a good understanding of China. We’re looking for people who are involved in the effective altruism community and want to develop deep expertise in China. We can help you find relevant graduate programmes, study Chinese, and introduce you to others on this path. If you already have this expertise, we can introduce you to people who want to work with you.

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Governments and other important institutions frequently have to make complex, high-stakes decisions based on the judgement calls of just a handful of people. There’s reason to believe that human judgements can be flawed in a number of ways, but can be substantially improved using more systematic processes and techniques. Improving the quality of decision-making in important institutions could improve our ability to solve almost all other problems. We’re especially keen to help people who want to work on the areas of policy most relevant to global catastrophic risks, such as nuclear security, AI, and biosecurity. We can help you choose a graduate programme and research topic. We can also help you find a relevant job in government and introduce you to others on this path.

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If you intend to donate over $100,000 per year, or oversee a budget at a philanthropic foundation, we can help you apply the ideas of effective altruism to your decisions about where to donate. We helped to found the effective altruism community in 2012 in Oxford, and can help with questions like which problem area to focus on, and whether to give now or invest to give later. We can also introduce you to other major donors and organisations in the community.

We’re keen to help people enter academic positions that are relevant to the most pressing global problems, such as: computer science, maths, statistics, physics, cybersecurity, economics, game theory, philosophy, synthetic biology, public health, security studies, political science, international relations, and related disciplines. We can help you pick a graduate programme and get funding. If you’re already in one of these areas, we can help you identify a research question, use your position to do outreach and applied work, or decide whether to leave academia. We can also introduce you to like-minded academics and organisations which want to apply your research.

Interested in a path not listed above?

We may still be able to help. Just explain why it’s higher-impact for you in the application form. We’re especially interested in any other paths that could have a big impact on any of our top recommended global problems.

How it works

1. Apply

It takes about 20 minutes to fill out the application form, which should also help you structure your thinking.

2.Prepare

If you’re accepted, we’ll send you a link to schedule your coaching session and guidance on how to prepare.

3.Have a 1:1 call

Your coaching session lasts about 45 minutes and takes place via video call or in person.

4.Stay in touch

We’ll keep in touch with you and provide further assistance via email or additional calls.

Some people we've helped

Of the hundreds of people we’ve coached, 95% would recommend us to a friend and 76% said they changed their career plans to something higher impact.

As a direct result of coaching, I found a role as Assistant Director of the Center for Human-Compatible AI at UC Berkeley, where I will contribute to shaping provably beneficial AI.

Rosie Campbell
Assistant Director
Center for Human-Compatible AI

The coaching team is incredibly well-researched and connected in AI safety. Their advice is far more insightful, personalized, and impact-focused than most of what I got from Google, self-reflection, or the peers or mentors I would typically go to.

Ethan Perez
Deep Learning Research Intern
MILA, Université de Montréal

A huge thank you for offering this service! University career counselors tend to focus on finding job listings, networking, and tweaking a resume -- but the big issues I was able to explore with 80,000 Hours were far more important to me in thinking about my career over the next 30 years.

Jessica Almy
Policy Director
The Good Food Institute

What is 80,000 Hours?

80,000 Hours is an independent non-profit that helps people lead fulfilling careers with a big social impact. Founded at the University of Oxford in 2011, we’ve done over five years of research on social impact career choice and coached hundreds of alumni of the world’s top universities. Our free career guide is read by more than a million people each year.

About us

Our coaching team

Brenton Mayer

Brenton qualified as a doctor and worked in Australia and Fiji. He co-founded Effective Altruism Australia, a tax-deductible charity that has raised over $3 million for effective charities. He also co-founded the Run to Better Days, to promote effective development aid for people living in extreme poverty.

Specialities

  • Biosecurity

Michelle Hutchinson

Michelle holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where her thesis was on global priorities research. While completing that, she did the operational set-up of the Centre for Effective Altruism and then became Executive Director of Giving What We Can. She came to us fresh from setting up the Global Priorities Institute at Oxford.

Specialities

  • Global priorities research
  • Operations

Niel Bowerman

Niel was a co-founder of the Centre for Effective Altruism and previously served as Assistant Director at the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute. He holds a PhD in physics from Oxford and has six years of experience in climate advocacy, during which he served on Barack Obama’s 2008 Environment Policy Team and worked as an advisor to the President of the Maldives.

Specialities

  • US AI policy

How to apply

Due to high demand, we’re only able to work with a small fraction of people who apply.

We aim to work with the people who we can help have the greatest impact. This means we look for commitment to social impact, interest in our priority paths, and evidence you can excel in a priority path. You don’t need to meet all of the criteria, but they all help.

Commitment to social impact

The aim of 80,000 Hours is to have the biggest social impact we can. We look to work with people who make social impact one of their main career goals.

Prior involvement with the effective altruism community is helpful but not necessary. You should be familiar with the basic principles of social impact career choice as presented in our career guide. Ideally, you should have already tried to apply our more advanced research to your situation.

We take an analytical approach to social impact and career choice, and we’re most able to help people who do the same. We’ll look to see clear explanations of your plans, and how you hope to make an impact.

Interest in priority paths

We’re best able to help people who are interested in our priority paths. We’ll look for evidence of your interest in working in at least one of the priority paths listed above. We are keen to speak to people who have a strong existing commitment to a particular path, and also those who are at an earlier stage (e.g. considering one or more of these paths among several others).

In addition, we can often help people who are considering other paths within our top recommended problem areas, or even paths within completely different areas. If you want to work in a path that’s not listed above, please make sure your application demonstrates exceptional ability and includes a summary of the reasons why you think this is likely to be your highest-impact option.

Evidence you can excel in a priority path

Your application should provide evidence of past achievements and ability to excel in one of our priority paths, for example:

  • You’ve completed a relevant side-project, such as volunteering or research.
  • You excelled in your studies at one of the world’s top 20 universities.
  • You previously worked in extremely competitive roles.
  • You received awards, grants or fellowships.
  • You co-founded a successful business or social initiative.

If you’re unsure, it doesn’t take long to apply. You can always apply again if your situation changes. Many people also say they find the application form helps them reflect on their plans.

We’re aware that factors like gender, race, and class can affect people’s willingness to call attention to their own achievements. We’d especially like to encourage people from under-represented backgrounds to apply.

Sound like you?

Due to high demand, you can’t apply directly right now.

Join the waitlist and we’ll send you an invitation to apply as soon as possible.