Which Degree Makes You More Money, Doctoral Or Professional Degree

Reading the title, most people would wonder what the difference is between a professional and a doctoral degree. Since both of these are post-graduate programs, it is understandable to be puzzled. But, believe it or not, there is a difference between the two:



Professional Degree: The main purpose of this degree is knowledge for application in the professional practice. Advanced studies for entering professional or vocational fields form a part of these programs.

Doctorate Degree: As opposed to a professional degree, a doctorate degree focuses more on advanced studies with the purpose of contributions to the knowledge of the subject. A doctorate degree is a research-focused degree.

However, even before the professional degree v doctorate degree debate, a student might ask the very fundamental question; is higher education and qualification even worth it?

Have a look at the following numbers for unemployment rates and median weekly earnings:

 

Is Higher Education Worth It?

Educational Attainment

Unemployment Rate (%)

Median Weekly Earnings ($)

Doctoral Degree
2.2
1,623
Professional Degree
2.3
1,714
Master’s Degree
3.4
1,329
Bachelor’s Degree
4
1,108
Associate’s Degree
5.4
777
Some College, no degree
7
727
High School Diploma
7.5
651
Less than a High School Diploma
11
472

1 Combined unemployment rate for all workers is 6.1%

2 Combines median weekly earnings for all workers are $827

*US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013) http://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/data-on-display/education-still-pays.htm

Is higher education worth it?

Little is left to explain after the abovementioned table.  Doctoral and professional degree programs have the lowest unemployment rates and the highest median weekly earnings. This may be attributed to the fact that fewer people go for these qualifications, creating a higher demand for such competent and experienced professionals.

Now that the value of higher education is established, below is a discussion on several important differentiating factors between professional degrees and doctorate degrees.

SALARY

Major

Professional Degree Work-life Earnings

Doctoral Degree Work-life Earnings

Business
$4,013,000
$3,535,000
Education
$2,461,000
$3,535,000
Psychology
$3,565,000
$2,802,000
Biological Sciences, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
$5,435,000
$3,511,000
Engineering
$4,120,000
$4,176,000
Visual & Performing Arts
$3,042,000
$2,545,000
Science & Engineering
$3,772,000
$3,814,000
Social Sciences
$4,321,000
$3,490,000
Liberal Arts & History
$4,088,000
$2,705,000
Literature & Languages
$3,874,000
$2,755,000
Physical & Related Sciences
$5,447,000
$3,825,000
Computers, Mathematics & Statistics
$3,848,000
$3,890,000
Communications
$3,467,000
$3,306,000

* Synthetic work-life earnings are created by adding annual earnings between age 25 and 64. For more information on these numbers please see www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/education/ data/acs/infographics/faqs.html.

* Source: United States Census Bureau

Salary

In most cases, a professional degree pays better than a doctoral program. Nine out of thirteen majors under discussion are more lucrative with a professional degree. What could be the reason for this?

The reasons vary across majors. The answer lies in the nature of both degrees. For instance, a professional degree in business management places emphasis on practical solutions, critical thinking and problem-solving, while applying business techniques and concepts. On the other hand, a doctorate degree in business administration (D.B.A.) requires intensive research beyond a master’s degree, resulting in a dissertation and publications in journals that contribute to the advancement of business on the whole. Since professional degree holders have a more practical approach rather than a scholarly approach to business management, therefore these professionals earn more. Similarly, it is evident that PhD holders earn more in the fields requiring extensive research.

OCCUPATIONS

Major

Professional Degree

Salaries

Doctoral Degree

Salaries

Business Lawyers
$4.8
Postsecondary teachers
$4.2
Accountants & Auditors
$3.8
   
Education Elementary school teachers
$2.2
Postsecondary teachers
$2.7
Lawyers
$4.1
   
Psychology Physicians & surgeons
$4.1
Psychologists
$3.1
Lawyers
$6.3
Postsecondary teachers
$3.0
Biological Sciences, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Physicians & Surgeons
$6.8
Medical scientists
$3.1
Dentists
$5.7
Postsecondary teachers
$2.9
Veterinarians
$3.5
Physicians & Surgeons
$6.3
Engineering Lawyers
$6.6
Postsecondary teachers
$3.7
Physicians & Surgeons
$7.1
   
Visual & Performing Arts Various careers
$3.0
Postsecondary teachers
$2.2
Science & Engineering Related Physicians & Surgeons
$6.2
Pharmacists
$4.4
Pharmacists
$4.5
Postsecondary teachers $3.1
Social Sciences Lawyers
$4.7
Postsecondary teachers
$3.0
Physicians & Surgeons
$6.5
Lawyers
$4.2
Liberal Arts & History Lawyers
$4.9
Various careers
$2.7
Physicians & Surgeons
$6.8
   
Literature & Languages Lawyers
$4.7
Postsecondary teachers
$2.5
Physicians & Surgeons
$6.1
   
Physical & Related Sciences Physicians & Surgeons
$6.9
Postsecondary teachers
$3.0
    Medical scientists
$3.6
Computers, Mathematics & Statistics Various careers
$3.8
Postsecondary teachers
$3.3
Communications Lawyers
$3.9
Various career
$3.3

* Source: United States Census Bureau

1 Salaries are stated in millions of dollars

Occupations

Becoming a lawyer is one of the most common professions for people with professional degrees, making law the most popular field for people pursuing professional degrees. Let’s take engineering as an example. Engineering and intellectual property law is a good combination and therefore some engineers become lawyers.

The most common career path pursued with a doctorate degree is postsecondary teaching. These individuals teach a variety of academic and vocational subjects beyond the high school level. They also conduct research, publish scholarly articles in journals and write books. Typically they work in public or private colleges and universities, professional schools, community colleges, and vocational and career schools.

NUMBER OF DEGREE HOLDERS

Major

Professional Degree

Doctorate Degree

Business
235,000
60,000
Education
110,000
80,000
Psychology
120,000
115,000
Biological Sciences, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
455,000
255,000
Engineering
90,000
145,000
Visual & Performing Arts
35,000
30,000
Science & Engineering
215,000
30,000
Social Sciences
360,000
110,000
Liberal Arts & History
190,000
85,000
Literature & Languages
115,000
70,000
Physical & Related Sciences
135,000
185,000
Computers, Mathematics & Statistics
40,000
60,000
Communications
45,000
20,000

* Source: United States Census Bureau

Number of degree holders

The table shows that more people pursue professional degrees than doctorate degrees with the exception of degrees in engineering, physical and related sciences, computers, mathematics and statistics. This is because these are research intensive fields. Newer technologies and mathematical advancements keep these areas of study evolving, which is why researchers get funding.

Notice how there is a huge disparity of numbers in the business field. This can be explained by the fact that practical skills obtained in this field are more applicable in the job market as compared to research based skills. People with professional degrees in business studies are better prepared to enter the fields of  business, finance, marketing, human resource, accounting and even business law, than people with doctorate degrees.

Whatever form of higher education you go for, it will more often than not, translate into a higher monetary value. Thinking of monetary benefits of pursuing one degree over the other is relevant when making a decision about which higher education path to pursue.

 

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