If you are looking to become an expert in a research, medical, or teaching profession, then earning a doctoral degree would be in your best interest. In medical positions, such as becoming a doctor or other practicing health care professional, a doctoral degree is required for licensure. This ensures that all of those who practice medicine are highly trained and educated in the field. For research positions, all top researchers who head research projects typically have doctoral degrees because they must be knowledgeable in the field in order to conduct in-depth studies. College professors typically need doctoral degrees for the same reason, and in fact, many researchers also work as professors in the field that they study. A doctoral degree typically takes four to six additional years to earn after first earning a bachelor’s degree. Some degree programs will also require students to earn a master’s degree beforehand as well. Depending on the program pursued, your undergraduate education may have to somehow work with your doctoral degree. For example, if you are looking to earn a doctoral degree in medicine, you will need to have taken plenty of science and mathematics courses during your undergraduate career. It is best to decide during your undergraduate career whether or not you wish to pursue a doctoral degree so that you will know what classes you will need to take.
In addition to being in positions of respected and high authority, doctoral degree holders enjoy great pay. Doctoral degree holders earned an average of $1,532 per week in 2009, the latest information available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is $275 more per week than a master’s degree salary and $507 more per week than a bachelor’s degree salary, the BLS reported. That means that in a typical 50-week work year, doctoral degree holders can earn up to $13,750 more than a master’s degree holder and $25,350 more than a bachelor’s degree holder. Yet, the career benefits of a doctoral degree do not end with just the higher level of financial reward. These degree holders also enjoy low unemployment rates. Doctoral degree holders have an unemployment rate of 2.5%, whereas the national average is 7.9%. Out of all of the degree levels, those with doctoral degrees have one of the lowest levels of unemployment. Considering how big of a problem unemployment has been due to the recent economic downturn, the lower unemployment rates experienced by doctoral degree holders is certainly a perk.