Pursuing a PhD may require you to invest a few extra years in education, but the coveted degree can help you earn higher-than-average salaries, a new US study has found.
According to the study, research-funded PhD recipients earn high wages after graduation, participate in national and international labour markets, and make an important impact on local economic development.
Almost 40% of these PhD graduates enter industry, where they are disproportionately hired at large and high-wage establishments in technology and professional service industries, the researchers said. They also earn higher-than-average salaries, all of which contribute to economic growth. The research, led by professors from New York University, Ohio State University, University of Michigan and Georgia State University, is the first to show how funded research investments may affect the economy by tracing the human dimension of their impact.
The study matches administrative records to US Census Bureau data to examine the subsequent employment and earnings outcomes of nearly 3,200 PhD graduates from eight major research universities. The study showed more than 20% of these doctoral recipients remain in the state where they trained, about 13% within 80km of their university.
Only a small percentage of the PhD recipients entered government (4.1%) and the majority remained in academia (57.1%), many presumably taking a postdoctoral research position. Seventeen per cent of the PhD recipients worked in establishments owned by firms with research and development operations versus 10.8% of the US workforce.
Doctoral recipients employed in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, semiconductors and computer systems design are between four and 19 times the US average.
The authors also found the median US establishment employing these PhD recipients has a higher payroll per worker - more than $ 90,000 - than the median US establishment owned by a research and development firm (just under $ 61,000) and the median US establishment (just over $ 33,000).
About 51% of these doctoral recipients work in establishments where per-worker payrolls exceed $ 100,000. The study was published in the journal Science.