There are many clear benefits of obtaining a doctorate degree, including several strong advantages that doctorate graduates have in the employment realm (such as a track record of tenacity, dedication and drive), which typically translates to higher pay (doctors earn a 26% higher salary than their bachelor equivalents).
Nobody would be able to blame you for thinking about a doctorate, but if you’re giving it very serious consideration, then you need to ask yourself the following three questions, and try to answer as frankly as possible.
Is it really what you want to do?
If you’re thinking of doing a doctorate because you’re unsure about what you want to follow as a career and need to decide, you should think very hard about your decision. Completing a doctorate is different to doing a bachelor’s and even a master’s degree. It is the highest academic qualification you can achieve for a reason, it can be incredibly tough and challenging. Make sure you’re aware of the potential problems you might have to face.
If you’re in a situation whereby you are trying to buy time before you have to think about a career, you should probably bite the bullet and make a plan right now, not least because if you’re doing a doctorate your career should probably be in a related field to what you’re studying. You should only go to grad school if you want to contribute to the academic literature in your chosen subject and live the life of an academic for a while.
Are you suited to the lifestyle of an academic?
The lifestyle of an academic can be different every day. You could be helping to teach a class of younger students one hour, researching in a lab or library the next hour, and then finishing off the day with hours of self-directed writing. The life of an academic is arduous and a lot of hard work, you need to know that you have the passion and focus to succeed at it. If you can’t match the lifestyle of a doctorate student at a college due to work or personal commitments, you could always do a doctoral program online, which is more suited for part-time studying. It’s still hard work, though, so don’t take it if you think it’s an easy degree.
Is it worth the investment?
There is no question that if you complete a doctorate degree, you will invest a lot of time and quite a bit of money. Your peers from your previous degrees will have started their careers and started to earn money – you will probably have a comparably modest income, which can affect how much you’re able to socialize. If you get crippled by FOMO, then life as an academic may not be for you. By opting to do a doctorate degree, you may well truly enjoy the research you’re conducting, as well as the challenge of the work.
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