In other words, don't do a PhD if you're in it for the money.
It may open a few more interview doors for you, but honestly, at least in my experience, I wasn't even aware of which of my coworkers had PhDs. When I eventually found out, they were all just slightly older than me working at the same pay grade.
Of course you can do what you love also without a PhD, but I’d argue that a PhD will eventually allow you to explore fields and things that are not economically viable.
In fact I would say that it’s just plain sad that we have to choose something based on how economically viable it is (industry) rather than purely for its interesting properties.
However I’d rather have a system that would still allow me to get some sort of basic income (to afford a living) while doing, say, archeology studies in Ancient Rome. Such system is academia right now.
I grew up in a below-average income family in a below-average city in America, and I carved this out for myself despite zero undergraduate degree. This meme that you have to be well off or that everyone who does it had benefactors is kinda silly.
I realize I am a sample size of one, but I really don't care for being wholly discounted in these arguments as if such a path is impossible. Was it exceptionally hard? Yes. Would it have been easier if I just finished my BS and an accepted-to MS? Also yes.
But I didn't for various reasons, and it still worked out because most of the factors that make a successful entrepreneur, scientist, and employee are exogenous to formal education anyway.
I advise people regularly to continue on with formal education; it is not like I think this is a very good track to take. But it is one that is available to those who self-study their ass off and don't mind working menial jobs to put food on the table for themselves and their families with great sacrifices.
What kind of research do you do?
So I guess the land you need to be in is the United States of America, at least in my case anyway. Might be true elsewhere but I haven't tested my luck.
Edit: I actually don't know what you are arguing, I think the point is that you won't get a job as a Professor without a PhD, getting teaching offers is completely different and happen to people in industry without PhDs all the time.
But I absolutely agree if you 'just' want to be involved with some research projects, publish a bit on the side and perhaps teach a few courses then there are many ways to reach that goal that don't involve becoming a professor.
Well is that because you aren’t in a job track that has anything that would need a PhD?
I have a PhD in physics. At the time that I finished college, and I think it's still somewhat the case today, the relevance of a PhD varied from one field to another. Maybe scientists just take longer to ripen. As an example, I've noticed that startup founders tend to be older in science than in computer programming.
Don't do a PhD if teenagers are getting rich in your field. Instead, decide if you belong in that field, i.e., if it's the kind of work that you actually want to do.
You do a PhD to scratch that itch, hopefully once you graduate you can keep scratching those itches, even if often that doesn’t work out.
It's a degree with a high opportunity cost that won't pay off financially in the long run, even with no tuition or debt. In the past I think everybody understood this but now I'm slightly more worried.
However eventually the next AI winter will come and the old lessons will be relearned again.
That said, I am seriously considering going back on the PhD route, because I think I’d like to spend more time teaching down the line. Kind of silly, but I have only a master’s and it seems like most higher ed institutions do not consider hiring you as a professor unless you have the magical piece of paper.
In my experience this is not true except unless you are super genius. Most folks without PhD often keeps making same naive mistakes, for example, not studying previous state of the art, not recording experiments properly, heuristics instead of rigorous analysis and so on. PhD trains to avoid all these. It allows you to build network, identity great researchers in the field as role models and understand what scientific scrutiny entails. It is not unusual to identify paper written by someone not experienced vs someone experienced. For example, a person without PhD would often neglect to mention scale in the graphs, compute variances in findings, describe figures properly and so on. These might look minor cosmetic things but it often goes long way in overall rigor.
??? They taught all of us that in undergrad.
a person without PhD would often neglect to mention scale in the graphs
... and they taught us about the scale of a graph in secondary school ...
Having worked in research at a few major tech companies now, when hiring research staff I’ve found they typical want someone in a strong position in the research community, typically evidenced by a strong publication record in the field they are recruiting in. While this can certainly be done without a PhD, I find it to be a bit rare. Our current research group is around 10 people (in a ~2K person company), 9 have PhDs.
That is all well and good, but I can't name a single person in my research field who has a decent publication record without a PhD (finished or in progress).
I suppose it could be unique in a way that their PhDs were sponsored by large companies and hence well funded, but I worked 4 years a C++ programmer and never caught up with their pay.
That was in the UK btw.