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PhD or job after the masters?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:24 am
by Jenny K.
Hello friend! I am a recent post graduate on civil engineering. I am thinking about whether I should do a Ph.D or try to find a job. To be honest I am a little confused about it. I may find a job now and after a couple of years will try to do the doctorate. I am not sure if it is a good idea. When I contacted a professional recruiter in Toronto, recently, they advised me to do phD and then try for job, rather than waiting for another couple of years. It actually confused me more. What advise can you give me in this scenario?

Re: PhD or job after the masters?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 8:17 am
by PG
Hi Jenny,

I edited your post slightly to remove the link to the recruiting Company that you had been in contact with since I could not see that the link provided any value to your question. If this was incorrect please repost that link again.

From your question I assume that you already know that you want to do a PhD and that it is a question about when to do it rather than if you should do a PhD. If it is only a question about when, the most common path around here is to go directly to your PhD training from your University graduation. It happens that people do get a job for a couple of years before starting the PhD but in these cases those jobs are usually with the research group that they later join as PhD students.

Re: PhD or job after the masters?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:56 am
by Rich Lemert
I think it's more common for engineers to spend some time in industry before entering a PhD program than it is in science, in part because you don't need an advanced degree to have a meaningful career. Neither path is wrong, and a strong argument can be made for both.

On the one hand, even as a PhD engineer, most of your work is probably going to have some industrial impact. If you've spent some serious time in industry, you'll have a better understanding of that impact. This can help if you go into academia because most of your students will be undergrads going into industry, and you'll be better able to advise them of what they can expect in their careers. Even if you go into industrial research, though, you'll be better aware of the practical considerations of your work.

On the other hand, many will argue that if you know you want a PhD, going out into industry for a couple of years is taking you off of the critical path and only delaying your 'real' career. It can also be difficult to return to school - for a variety of reasons: 1) You can very easily get used to the industrial paycheck; 2) If you wait too long, you can lose your study skills and a lot of your technical knowledge; 3) After working with 'practical' solutions for a couple of years, you can lose patience with the 'precision' of academics.

(On that last point, I had a colleague that found it too hard to return to calculating pipe diameters to the nearest 0.01 inch when he knew that in the plant the pipe came in 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, 1 inch, etc. standard diameters.)

Re: PhD or job after the masters?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:42 pm
by Dave Jensen
PG wrote:Hi Jenny,

I edited your post slightly to remove the link to the recruiting Company that you had been in contact with since I could not see that the link provided any value to your question.


Thank you for doing this PG. We do not want Jenny to post that link -- thank you for understanding our rules of posting,

Dave

Re: PhD or job after the masters?

PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:10 pm
by Dustin Levy
Rich Lemert wrote:I think it's more common for engineers to spend some time in industry before entering a PhD program than it is in science, in part because you don't need an advanced degree to have a meaningful career.


I work with a lot of engineers and agree with Rich's comment. You can do very well in industry with a Master's degree in engineering and may even find that a Ph.D. isn't necessary to get you where you want to go. My advice is to go right into a Ph.D. program only if you really enjoy doing academic research. If you're main reason for considering a Ph.D. is career advancement and not necessarily because you enjoy it, then go into industry, and if you do quality work there, your lack of a Ph.D. won't hold you back.

Re: PhD or job after the masters?

PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:47 pm
by RGM
Jenny K. wrote:Hello friend! I am a recent post graduate on civil engineering. I am thinking about whether I should do a Ph.D or try to find a job. To be honest I am a little confused about it. I may find a job now and after a couple of years will try to do the doctorate. I am not sure if it is a good idea. When I contacted a professional recruiter in Toronto, recently, they advised me to do phD and then try for job, rather than waiting for another couple of years. It actually confused me more. What advise can you give me in this scenario?


I believe the advice you were given was poor. In the USA, according to my engineering friends, most of them finish with a B.S. get their job, have the company for advanced degree.

In all honesty, move on with your life. Life is short, you can always learn some knowledge, but you cannot take back time and bank it somewhere.

I asked my engineer friend, would it have made the difference if he stayed for the MS or PhD then went for the job. His reply was "no".

In short, both types of people end up at the same place. Sometimes the more educated people end up at the job faster than BS only people, but not always.

If your entire field always gets the PhD before their first job, that's different of course. If not, it really isn't worth the time, the opportunity cost isn't a good one in terms of the PhD route in my opinion for you.