Generally someone decides to pursue a doctoral degree in order to further their education and also their employment opportunities. It is not always a decision based on money, since clearly depending on what you study you may make more or less then a less academic student who chooses a major such as communications or business. But one key economic advantage to earning a doctoral degree is that it never loses its value and such a high level of education generally surpasses lower achieving applicants for a position when applying for a job.
It is also important to note that Ph.D is not the only form of doctoral degree. Some other common doctoral degrees include the Psy.D (application based equivalent to a Ph.D in psych), M.D, and various combined programs. I have met people with their Ph.Ds in everything from Greek comedy to medicine and they all say they did it for educational reasons and a desire to pursue further education.
In today’s society money is not something that is hard to obtain; just look at how mainly mundane jobs are overpaid while jobs doing research, protecting lives, or studying human behavior are largely underpaid. I’m not saying going for a doctorate is the fast track to being broke and miserable, but then again it depends what matters to you in your life. Personally I struggle with the idea of using my current degree to drop school and go make the almighty dollar; but at the same time I am also driven to learn more and educate myself more in a field that I feel interests me and at the same time has the implications to make a difference in other’s lives.
Its really a difficult choice but one that can be laid out clearly: If you are someone who sees college as merely a way to get a high paying job then major in a field like business or finance and never look back. If your someone who yearns for more knowledge, being able to put Dr. in front of your name, or really wants an education that will NEVER lose its value then take it all the way. As for Master’s Degrees they are losing relevance in today’s world with many schools removing the Master’s step or combining it on track to get one’s doctorate.
For me I hold a B.S. in biotechnology but decided to turn down job offers and head on track to take a shot at applying for graduate school to get my Psy.D. I hope to make it, but if I don’t for some reason I always have something to fall back on. Again it is up to the individual and if you value education over grinding out a living with the piece of paper called a degree then go for it. In closing keep in mind that in today’s world of instant access there are always ways to make the money whether you choose to further your education or not. Plus there are payoffs in pursuing a field you like beyond the dollar bill.