Pros & Cons of an Engineering PhD

Engineering has many different fields to look into. Would you like to work in civil engineering or aerospace engineering? Depending on what discipline you choose, your studies will change. This is true for each degree level as well. Below, we'll look at some of the pros and cons of earning your PhD.

Similar to many industries, the engineering field does not necessarily require a PhD for employment. But if you want to know more about the positives and negatives for entering an engineering PhD program, we've compiled a list of pros and cons below.

Pros of Earning an Engineering PhD

Though there are positives to earning a PhD in Engineering, you must consider what your career aspirations hold. Check out these reasons that a PhD could help you in the long run.

If You Want to Be a Teacher

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest degree that can be earned in the field of engineering. This program's intensive study is perfect for preparing you to teach the skills and knowledge that you have mastered throughout your studies. Many universities ask that their professors have a PhD. So, if you want to work in academia, you should consider earning your doctorate in engineering.

If You Enjoy Research

An PhD program focuses on the theoretical and research aspects of engineering. You'll spend much of your time in a doctoral program reading, researching, and writing, rather than getting experience with the applied aspects of engineering. With this education, you can find professions in the areas of research and development. For instance, you may find work researching materials or coming up with new building and design techniques.

If You Want to Earn More

Engineers make good money. estimates that mechanical engineers make an average of $68,960 per year as of October 2018. Of course, different engineering occupations have varying salaries, but with a PhD, your career options and earning potential can grow. According to, mechanical engineers holding a doctorate earned averaged a salary of $109,000 as of October 2018.

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Cons of Earning an Engineering PhD

When there are positives, there are always negatives to balance the scales. The sections below outline a few considerations as to why a PhD in Engineering may not work for you. Consider these carefully.

If You Want to Work in Industry

If you want to work in the engineering industry, getting your hands dirty building prototypes and designing structures and materials, a PhD likely isn't for you. You may be considered overqualified for these positions and left to take on research and academic positions only. To get started as an engineer, you really only need a bachelor's degree.

If You Want to Save Money

Earning your PhD may earn you more money in the long run, but you'll be putting up a lot of money for schooling beforehand. Costs can add up very quickly if you continue your education beyond a bachelor's degree. Student grants and scholarships may cover some of these costs but will not likely cover all.

If You Don't Want to Put Your Life on Hold

Finally, continuing your education will put your life on hold. If you have the degree necessary to begin working, why continue your education unless it is necessary for your endgame? A bachelor's degree program in engineering can be finished in about four years, though many universities offer accelerated 5-year programs resulting in a combined bachelor's and master's degree. So, if you start working right after college, you'll get more experience. The more experience you have in your field, the more you are worth and the more you will be paid. Sure, you may have to climb the ladder rather than jump right to a management position, but pursuing a PhD can make you put a lot of things on hold for 5-6 years if you enter the program with only a bachelor's degree.

When deciding whether a PhD in Engineering is for you, you should consider your career and life goals. Do you want to become a professor? Would you like to become an engineering manager more quickly? These questions can be as important as deciding which engineering discipline to undertake.

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