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Does a doctoral title help in professional career?

Does a doctoral title help in professional career?
Zuzanna Witkowska, Senior Consultant at Antal and a PhD in the field of chemical technology: Pursuing a PhD makes sense and is even essential if someone is considering staying at the university and aiming for a professorship. However, if we plan to write a PhD with the idea of furthering our professional career outside the academy, it's worth weighing the pros and cons.

"PhD: is it worth it?" - a question many ask themselves. Firstly, one must consider the fact that while we're pursuing our doctorate, others are already navigating the job market and gaining professional experience, which often holds more value for employers than the doctoral title itself. Yet, the question "what does a PhD title offer?" doesn’t have a straightforward answer.

MBA or PhD

However, it should be noted that in certain cases the doctoral title will be our bargaining chip, especially if we associate our future with "work after PhD" or working abroad. "PhD abroad", especially in Germany, defending a PhD is widely respected (not just among employers), opens many doors, and is associated with higher salaries regardless of the experience gained. In Poland, there are several companies that willingly employ specialists with a PhD title, for instance, consulting firms, banks, or companies in the medical sector.
Industries where the PhD has the most professional significance are public trust professions like doctors or lawyers. Among those seeking assistance from these professionals, a doctoral title raises hopes for better advice, which may or may not translate to reality.

Besides doctoral studies, many specialists and managers also consider programs like Master of Business Administration. "MBA or PhD?" - this question is becoming more common. Does an MBA make more sense than a PhD? What matters more to employers?
Competencies acquired are what count the most. Generally speaking, the direction of completed studies matters less and less, and MBA programs are becoming more common and losing their prestige, although "earnings after MBA" can be appealing. Employers usually specify their educational requirements for candidates quite carefully, e.g., “higher technical education required.” When it comes to competency requirements, there's no room for vagueness. During job interviews, candidates are thoroughly questioned about the tools they know, processes they've been involved with, methodologies, languages, and systems. The more "hard" competencies we have, the higher our chances of getting employed.

"How to pursue a PhD?" is a question that may arise in the minds of many young people. Can a PhD hurt a professional career?

A PhD can be an obstacle in job hunting, but so can other unexpected factors. For instance, studies completed at a private university (regardless of its prestige sometimes leads to the disqualification of a candidate due to strict corporate requirements), or experience gained in a company that has a negative reputation in the market. From a headhunter's perspective, to a specialist or manager considering a PhD, I can only say one thing - if you're keen on pursuing a PhD, the title will certainly not ruin your professional future. Just remember that a PhD requires a lot of hard work, and during this time your rivals will surpass you in terms of experience gained. But you'll have a PhD title for life, and the experience gap between you and your peers will even out sooner or later. Just ask yourself one question: why do you want this title? If it's for potentially higher earnings, then it's not worth it. If it's for knowledge, remember that you're unlikely to use it in your job. There will always be those who won't appreciate the title or will simply be envious. However, if you want to pursue it for yourself, invest your time and see what doors this experience and title will open for you in the future - go ahead, it's a good decision.

PhD – is it worth it?

From Antal's perspective, I can say that it certainly won't have a negative impact on your professional future, though it might not necessarily translate to higher earnings or a better position in the job market. It's crucial for every doctor seeking employment to conduct a SWOT analysis, to know their strengths, weaknesses, threats, but most importantly, opportunities for development.
Besides doctoral studies, other courses can also be considered which will yield specific benefits in terms of additional qualifications, like postgraduate studies, which allow acquiring additional skills and competencies that are valued in the job market. Competition in the job market is fierce, so it's worth considering which courses will bring specific benefits in terms of additional qualifications, which will set you apart from the competition and help you secure a better position in the job market.

Ultimately, the decision is up to each individual and should be made thoughtfully, considering all pros and cons, as well as personal career goals and aspirations. Regardless of the choice, the most important thing is to be passionate about what you do and to continuously develop in the chosen direction.
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