PhD or Masters if I want to work in industry?

I am graduate student working on my Masters and PhD in physics. I want to work in the solar panel industry doing something (I don't really know what). I finished my undergraduate degree last year (in physics) and at the end of next year I will be done with my masters at which time I will start working on my PhD. The university is currently paying for my tuition and I am getting a salary (albeit not a large one but enough to live by myself, eat, make my car payments, etc..). I will be receiving this funding through my PhD work as well. I am not sure if I should get a terminal masters degree (that is to leave after I receive my masters) and join industry or to join industry after I get my PhD. The adviser that I would like to work with works almost exclusively with private companies - that is to say my research is very applicable to industry and not some theoretical "pie in the sky" work. Getting a PhD is not only a personal goal of mine but I feel as though it would be very beneficial for someone in the private industry to have their PhD in a field as complicated as solar panels (which is heavily based on Quantum Mechanics). I should not however that there does not exist courses in solar panels, there are general courses that cover the foundation of how solar panels work (such as quantum mechanics or a solid state physics course) but there are no courses to be taken. In the PhD program you really learn the intricacies of how solar panels work. As Einstein put it "The work will teach you how to do it!". I mentioned I don't know what I want to do but I do know what I do not want to do. I worked at a large automotive company for 8 months as an engineer (which is essentially what I am doing now) and it was an eye opening experience. I realized that I do not want to work in operations or in internal quality. I would not mind R&D but I really want to something business/science oriented , either working in developing the next generation products or even working with customers around the world. I want to be in a position that I am needed and recognized within the company. Again, I do not know what I want to do but I know what I do not want to do. Would a PhD hinder me at all? For example if I found a job that I really enjoyed and it only required a masters or a bachelor degree, is it realistic to talk to HR and say "Well I really want to do 'that' (whatever 'that' may be)! I understand that people doing 'that' only get paid 'X' which is what I am willing to get paid as well.". That is to say I don't really care how much money I get, I just want to do something that is interesting and as long as I am willing to get a pay cut then would a company say no to that idea? Thank you for your time and input! Please mention your bias, i.e. if you are a scientist working in industry, someone working in the HR department in some sort of industry, etc...

Asked By: Goose - 3/27/2010
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
Starting out, the initial salary of a PhD in physics is significantly higher than of an MS in physics. And, if you graph the salary of the PhD and MS, you can see that they both increase roughly linearly over your career. However, surprisingly, the MS salary has a higher slope, so they both intersect roughly a decade... More
Answered By: markum - 3/27/2010
Additional Answers (1)
i am a high school student and i have no idea :D
Answered By: Alex W - 3/27/2010
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