Published On: Tue, Dec 18th, 2012

Life After the Doctorate: What to Expect?

Life After the Doctorate: What to Expect?An elite few can truly call themselves doctors because a very small number of students choose to pursue a doctorate degree in their chosen field of study. If you choose to obtain this type of degree, you may want to consider a career as a doctor, psychologist or even a university professor.

If a doctorate of medicine is of interest to you, settle in for approximately 12 more years of post secondary education depending on the area of specialization chosen. To become a specialist your path may look something like this:

  • 4 years of University to obtain your bachelor’s degree
  • Write the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
  • 4 years of medical school
  • 3 years in residency
  • 2-3 years of specialization

Without a specialization, a medical practitioner can expect to make an approximate $50,000 to $150,000 per year depending on their country and location of practice. A specialized doctor can expect their wages to be much higher than those of a general or family physician. With a medical doctorate degree, there is also the option of becoming a medical research scientist. A position which, on top of what was previously listed, will require another 5 to 7 years of evaluated employment before you may be allowed to lead your own research team.

Maybe psychology is more your thing and you prefer to get inside people’s heads, without a scalpel that is. Again, you are looking at 4 years for a bachelor’s degree, and then add another 4 to 6 years on top of that to obtain your PhD, the total amount of time spent in school is reliant on what you would like to do with your degree. To teach or conduct research at a university level, the duration of time in an educational setting will be longer. You may also require a 1-year internship. Salary ranges from an estimated $39,000 to $109,500 per year for psychologists employed by hospitals or other health institutions, while the median wage in a school setting is around $70,000.

One of the most sought after positions for a graduate with a doctoral degree in any field might be that of a fully tenured university professor. This is arguably one of the most difficult positions to achieve, but is well respected. The time invested to realize your calling as a university professor will most probably look like this:

  • Bachelors Degree = 4 years
  • Masters Degree = 2 years
  • Doctorate = 2-4 years depending on area of study
  • Assistant Professor = 5-7 year on average, average salary $64,000
  • Associate Professor =  dependent on your research and publication record, average salary $76,147
  • Full Tenured Professor= Rarely before age 40, average salary $108,749

The above data is from an American Association of University Professors study (2009). As you can see the road to full professor status and the ability to conduct whatever research you desire within your chosen field is a long one. If that is your dream though, get studying.

Whether you choose one of the careers discussed here, or decide on another doctorate level career, there will be years of schooling before you enter the workforce. When you do exit university, more training is specialized and still more to learn as you progress through the stages of your career. One thing that you will not learn on your way to a PhD is how to be passionate. Make sure that you are in love with the field of study you choose because the road will be even longer if you are not.

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