A PhD degree is the highest level of education you can attain. On average, it takes seven to ten years for an individual to earn a doctorate degree after completing the undergraduate degree.
To earn a PhD degree is not the same as taking a walk in the park. The process is not an easy one; it is very rigorous and time-consuming. Not only that, but it can also be quite expensive. To enroll in any PhD program, it is very necessary to choose one with high earning potential. The earning potential of every degree is dependent on the program you offered.
Some of the highest paying PhDs offer six figures in one’s early career; by the time he or she gets to the mid-career (10+ years of work experience), the salary might be more than $130 000 per annum. Here, you won’t find any doctor or lawyer on the list because M.D. and law degrees are not the same as PhDs. Earning a degree in law is not a basic requirement to work in any high-paying position in the field. Also, there are some areas of the medical field that do not require M.D degrees but might require other doctoral level degrees. These areas were included in this article.
Below is a list of our highest-paying PhD degrees. We hope they would help you in determining whether earning a PhD in these fields is a step in the right direction in your chosen field.
- PhD in Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering is one of the most popular fields of interdisciplinary research. It is constantly evolving and filled with specialists who are well-grounded in areas such as life sciences, computational methods and theory. An individual with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering will be faced with diverse opportunities for research in an array of fields.
Biomedical Engineers work in hospitals, research centers and manufacturing firms. They could also work in the universities as professors or research experts. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job of Biomedical Engineers will increase by 23% in 2028. This makes the job a very promising one.
Early career salary is $88 100 and mid-career salary is $133 000 per annum.
- PhD in Engineering
The highest degree offered in the field is a PhD in Engineering. Most areas of engineering do not require a doctorate degree, but research opportunities are awarded to doctoral candidates and graduates. The degree offers some areas of independent research such as computer engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, mining engineering, electrical engineering, and so on. Engineers use their knowledge of a subject to create concrete processes and solutions. A general degree track in engineering is offered by some schools, instead of focusing on some areas of specialties.
Engineering roles requiring PhD degree include director, engineering technicians, and project managers. By 2028, the growth rate of engineering jobs is 5% as stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Early career salary for PhD in Engineering is $93 600, while that of mid-career is $137 000 per annum.
- PhD in Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineering combines physical sciences (chemistry and physics), life sciences (microbiology and biochemistry) and mathematics to solve problems in such areas as the use of chemicals, drugs, food, or fuel. The PhD programs in this field are designed to get engineering professionals equipped with specialized knowledge of the basics of the field and the trending research practices and findings.
The field of chemical engineering is seen as the best engineering profession with a doctoral degree in terms of salary as it offers constant job growth with both early and mid-careers enjoying great remuneration packages.
Professionals of chemical engineering usually work in research centers of biotechnology.
The early alary for professionals in this field is $96 100 and the mid-salary is $146 000 per year.
- PhD in Economics
Economics is one of the most ambitious and lucrative academic fields globally. It attempts to combine the elements of the following factors: behavioral science, statistics and probability, game theory, and ethics in order to have a better understanding of human behavior as well as predict market trends, and make the right recommendations concerning economic policies. These economic policies are very crucial in determining and solving economic problems. Economics is also faced with the duty of analyzing historical economics and use the information obtained to create theories that would help in explaining the observed behavior, while determining if the behavior is worth reproducing, considering cultural differences. There are different branches of economics and no economist can be an expert in all because the subject will be too big for one to study extensively.
- PhD in Computer Science
With a PhD in computer science, a computer scientist becomes an expert within a sub-field in computer science. The professional obtain an undergraduate degree in computer science or related field, then, narrows down his or her expertise in a specialty field like computer programming, during his masters and doctorate programs. Most roles for computer research scientists require a PhD to fully become an expert in an academic or a non-academic field.
Some jobs performed by a scientist in a non-academic field include computer hardware engineer, computer software engineer, information research scientist, etc. They could also be found in multidisciplinary fields like data mining, programming, or robotics. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are topics that computer scientists in their advanced stage engage in. A computer scientist in the academic field could decide to become a professor or get involved in the research wing of the institution and beyond.
According to the BLS, the job outlook for computer scientists is expected to increase by 11% through the year 2024. The salary for early-career scientists is $118 000 and that of mid-career professionals is $145 000.
- PhD in Pharmacology (Doctor of Pharmacy)
PhD in pharmacology is another field that yields much financial success in the long run. Professionals in the field of pharmacology work in a high-level career in the pharmaceutical industry or in research centers. They majorly work to develop new drugs and improve on old ones using their knowledge and expertise in the industry. The research level jobs pay higher than other jobs in the same industry. If you seek the best job that pays higher, then, becoming a pharmacologist has already set the track for you.
The early career salary is $75 000, while the mid-career salary is $141 000.
- PhD in Statistics
Statistics is one of the fields that people underrate, probably because it did not come with the tag ‘professional’ like some fields including engineering, accounting, and medicine. However, there is a lot to glean from this field. Graduates of statistics work as statisticians in a variety of industries like healthcare, government establishments, the private sector, and some financial institutions. They are also found on Wall Street, working on the high-end computer and artificial intelligence research, data analysis, economics, actuarial science, and risk assessment. Over the coming years, the job of statisticians is expected to increase by a considerable number. While a master’s degree is enough to help statisticians live a successful life, a PhD is sure to take that to a higher level.
Early career salary is $105 000 and mid-career salary is $131 000.
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- PhD in Psychology
Like other fields, psychology is very wide and encompasses areas like clinical psychology, developmental psychology, forensic psychology, rehabilitation psychology, organizational psychology, and school psychology and all of them are very broad individually. Most psychologists conduct research in their fields. They also tend to focus on academia, teaching, and conducting research. The vast majority of them are clinical psychologists and are responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and treating emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders. Clinical psychologists work closely with medical practitioners in order to determine the right treatment for their patients. However, they are permitted to prescribe medication in some states.
Early career salary for psychologists is $72 000, and mid-career salary is 119 000 per annum.
- PhD in Physics
Most high-level jobs for physicists are in the areas of research, whether in government establishments, academic or corporate settings. In some cases, the practical implications of the research carried out by a physicist may not be clear until centuries later. It could take a very period of time to carry out a developmental process of technology. Sometimes, they keep building on existing theories, perform experiments to test a hypothesis until they come out with a concrete theory.
An example could be found in the theory of gravity. Newton propounded the theory some centuries ago, yet little has been known regarding its effect on the earth and in the solar system. Theoretical physics is not the only area of physics that be. There are medical physicists who work in the medical field while developing new medical technologies and drugs using physics.
Early career salary for physicists is $93 700, while that of mid-career is $135 000.
- PhD in Nursing
Nursing is one of the fields that will keep growing and never go on extinction. Since modern nursing came into practice, the field has been experiencing booming and growth. Like another field, nursing has several branches, however, the highest-paid branches are nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists. Nurse practitioners are primary care providers in hospitals or nursing homes and are very much knowledgeable in the way doctors function. They assess patients, prescribe medications, and carry out treatments on them. This means that they can work independently. Nurse anesthetists, on the other hand, administer anesthesia for surgical procedures and provide the right care for the patient throughout the surgical period.
Nurses could also choose to work in the academia as educators or researchers in other medical fields.
The early career salary for nurses is estimated to be $105 000, while the mid-career salary is $131 000 per annum.
It is advisable that you should not rush to obtain your PhD immediately after you are through with your undergraduate and master’s program. After your undergraduates, try to acquire some work experience before proceeding with your masters and then, PhD. The work experience will help to guide your interests and understand the specific area where your calling lies. During your research, you could be able to work on projects that you have been yearning for answers to and then, come out with the solution yourself. This cannot be achieved without having some level of exposure and work experience.