Studying for a PhD is a major commitment. You’ll be giving up three to five years of your life and, most likely, taking a considerable financial hit in order to do so. There’s no doubt that it will mean a lot of hard work and many have no clear idea of how gaining the qualification will benefit them.

In fact, having a PhD confers many advantages, and the skills learnt while completing one are also their own reward. You’ll certainly be in a position to apply for better-paid jobs within your field, meaning that in the long term, the financial cost will be more than offset. A PhD is an investment in your future, but it is also an investment in the future of your chosen sector in general.

Knowledge and expertise 

A PhD is a research-based doctorate in which you choose the subject of your study and are taught the skills and techniques you need to formally research it to rigorous academic standards. You will be expected to publish your thesis and present it to your peers at conferences. While this may sound daunting, the upshot is that with a PhD, you will be considered an expert on your chosen subject, and your knowledge and expertise will be respected and sought after at the highest levels.

Teaching and more 

In many sectors, there is an urgent lack of qualified educators, with healthcare being one well-documented example. A nurse PhD may find work in a nursing college or as a government healthcare advisor, as well as in high-level clinical positions. Their research background will give them both a unique insight into particular aspects of the nursing profession and more general skills that can be used to guide and mentor others.

Learning the language 

Academic research is a language in its own right. To be taken seriously as an expert, one must learn this language and know how to document and present one’s findings in a particular way. Studying for a PhD involves developing this ability as well as the confidence to stand by your research and argue your case effectively. The qualification opens doors into the circles where decisions are made that can impact the course of your chosen discipline dramatically.

Shaping the future 

Taking a PhD gives students the tools to shape the future of their field. These include transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and the ability to communicate their findings effectively, as well as a solid body of specialist knowledge. Because a PhD is research-based, graduates generally go into positions of influence, whether as teachers, advisors, policy-makers or leaders within organizations. This means that they are the ones who will determine the direction of the area they work in for future generations.

Working for your PhD isn’t just about improving your earning power, although that is one result. You will also gain the skills to help move your chosen field forward, and to really make a difference to the world through your contributions. A PhD will establish you as a thought leader within your discipline, letting you help determine precisely how that discipline prospers or develops in years to come.