Depends on what you want to do when you grow up ;-) as well as the confidence you have in your future.
Academia is certainly a significant final destination for Ph.D.'s, but certainly not the only one (another poster seems to have a different opinion - I'd say that 60?f my former classmates (Ph.D. in chemistry) are in non-academic fields. Certain fields (i.e., theoretical chemistry) tend to have less opportunity in government/industry than others (analytical, organic). In certain fields, Ph.D. level scientists in fact predominate over BS level. In the more applied fields (heading to process engineering), there are certainly fewer Ph.D.'s (in fact, traditionally, in engineering a Ph.D. was only found in academia -- this is certainly no longer the case in the biotech field!)
The stats from the chemical industry group (American Chemical Society) are below.
Basically, you'll double your starting salary and improve your relative chance of getting employed by 50?*if all factors remain constant* (not easy to predict) compared to a BS-level qualified applicant to a 1st-time position. Keep in mind that a small fraction of BS-level students go onto the Ph.D. level.
BUT (isn't there always one), what are the wrinkles? Well, say you're 21 yo and you can simultaneously live in a parallel universe.
In version 1, you get your BS and start working at $32.5K. After 5 years, at the age of 26, where you somehow earned an annual 10?alary increase (an iffy proposition), you're now at $52K. Your net earnings are $251K.
In version 2, you enter graduate slavery, err, school and receive a stipend of $13.5K. After 5 years, at the age of 26, you're now ready to graduate, and still at $13.5K. Your net earnings are $81K.
Doesn't sound so good, but then, let's say that after 5 years, all job salaries plateau. So, in another 10 years, with the Ph.D. starting salary of $65K and an annual 10?rowth, the Ph.D. levels out at $105K and has roughly the same net earnings as the BS version. From there on out, the Ph.D. is always ahead.
So, if you are still reading, you are either glaze-eyed or hopping up and down with what if's....
Sure, the BS version may have gotten promoted to management and earned a MS at night (increasing earning potential). He might also be in a job that gives him the opportunity to make management and research/development decisions that turn into bonuses and/or patents. Then again, perhaps not.
The Ph.D. (in the chemical industry) is basically a mid-management position. Corporations don't hire Ph.D.'s "by themselves". A Ph.D. is brought in to be a part of and eventually to lead a research team (in addition to bringing in an expert knowledge of some field). If he doesn't do so, he will cease to be employed. His "team" will include BS and MS level people.
A BS level person is only *expected* to be a "follower". Certainly, if they contribute more to the team, that's a bonus (and should be suitably rewarded), but it's NOT the expectation and generally won't lose a job because of lack of leadership or vision.
Hope that helps. Visit your local ACS chapter if you want some case studies in your area.
From the American Chemical Society (URL below), for 2004...
Overall, the latest version of the American Chemical Society’s annual survey of the starting salaries and employment situation for new chemistry graduates finds that things did not get any worse since the previous survey. There are even inklings of some modest and spotty gains after three tough years for the chemical profession. A lot of ground needs to be made up, however.
The survey gathered data as of the week of Oct. 4, 2004, from chemists who graduated between July 2003 and June 2004.
It reveals a median salary for inexperienced bachelor’s degree graduates with full-time permanent jobs of $32,500. This median was up from the $32,000 posted by 2002–03 graduates a year earlier. The corresponding year-to-year gain for inexperienced Ph.D. graduates was to $65,000 from $63,300. For graduates with master’s degrees, there was a slight dip to $43,600 from $44,500.
In constant-dollar terms, however, median salaries for inexperienced new chemistry graduates remained depressed. When adjusted for inflation, the median salaries for 2003–04 graduates at all three degree levels were about 10?elow the salaries received by chemists who had graduated three or four years earlier. The longest and strongest economic expansion in U.S. history started to plateau about then, in 2000, and finally petered out in early 2001, to be followed by a fairly mild recession that lasted for about nine months.
An inexperienced graduate is one with less than 12 months of technical work experience prior to graduation.
As to employment, 38?f 2003–04 Ph.D. graduates found full-time permanent employment, up from 37?ne year earlier. The gain for bachelor’s graduates was also a nominal 1?rom 24?o 25?For the smaller and more volatile master’s class, the gain was bigger, from 41?o 48?
In 2000, the last really healthy employment year for chemists, a considerably higher 45?f Ph.D. graduates, 35?f bachelor’s, and 56?f master’s reported that they had full-time permanent jobs upon graduation.
Answered By: ChemDoc - 7/27/2006