Does a Data Science Ph.D Significantly Increase Earning Power?

data science phd wage

After graduating from a data science program, many students flirt with the idea of pursuing the ultimate credential – a Ph.D. degree. After all, it is a well-known fact that completing such advanced studies will give one added leverage when negotiating salaries and open up more career opportunities. The problem, however, is that doctorate programs take a lot of time to complete and tend to be quite expensive. So, will a Ph.D. in data science increase one’s earning power enough to compensate for years of research and added tuition and fees?

Limitless Options

Before even attempting to answer the said question, it is important to recognize that it is almost impossible to find two Ph.D. programs in data science that are exactly the same. This is because the students have to choose a dissertation topic that has not been explored yet and do their own research and inquires. Therefore, it is very hard to provide a generalized answer since some doctorate degrees may prove to be incomparably more beneficial than others. A great example would be a student who obtains their degree on the topic of artificial-intelligence-based data science. In their case, most employers would view the said degree as an outstanding perk that is very applicable to the current climate of the market. At the same time, a person who gets a doctorate degree in general data science methods may have a harder time pitching their knowledge and technical skills to hiring managers when asking for higher pay.

General Statistics

Next, one must consider the general statistics surrounding the area of advanced education and graduate degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person with a doctoral degree will earn a median of $1,743 per week. This ranks as the second-highest earning potential and exceeds that of someone who has a master’s, bachelor’s, or associate’s degree by $343, $570, and $907, respectively. Therefore, it is fair to expect the annual salary for a person with a doctorate degree in data science to be anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 higher than that of someone who has a master’s degree. Over the life of a 30-year career, which seems to be the average for most industries, that difference accumulates to approximately $350,000.

Making a Conclusion

Based on the aforementioned, it seems that preliminary findings indicate how a data science expert with a Ph.D. will make about $350,000 more than someone who decides to end their academic pursuits after a master’s degree. That difference is twice as high when the comparison involves individuals who only have a bachelor’s in data science. So, is spending another 2-3 years of research worth the said amount of money? Most people would say that it definitely is. Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of doctorate students qualify for scholarships, federal aid, and school-based assistantships that make the tuition expenses much more bearable. Therefore, a year spent obtaining a doctorate degree in data science is practically worth over $100,000 towards someone’s career earnings.

As mentioned, contrary to the conclusion above, it is important that every student takes the type of doctorate degree that they are pursuing into account. In addition, they should also analyze their markets to determine if these figures are feasible for the local economy. That way, they will be in a much better position to accurately conclude if getting a Ph.D. in data science is something that will significantly increase their earning power.

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