Some Fringe Benefits of Getting Your PhD.

Your can brag to kids who are still in elementary school that you went up to “Grade 23”

You and your chiropractor can call each other “fake doctor”.

Your friends and family can use your degree against you any time you screw up:  “He has a PhD but he can’t even figure out how to program the remote control!”. 

Your friends and family can use your degree against you any time you happen to like something low-brow:   “He has a PhD but he likes to watch South Park!“.

You can earn a decent salary in a non-research job, but still be considered a failure by your academic peers because you don’t “publish”.

If you pursue post-doctoral studies,  you rank slightly higher than lichen on the academic food chain.

Those six additional years of graduate school are worth a whole extra $5000 in starting salary. 

Senior PhD’s will treat you like a junior employee, even though you’re in your 40’s with 10 years work experience.

Technicians and blue-collar workers look at you with mistrust, and avoid sitting with you at lunch. 

The guy with the Grade Nine education who started working at the plant at age 18 will have his house paid off before you even qualify for a mortgage.

The guy with the Grade Nine education who started working at the plant at age 18 will be retired with full pension, before you finally get out of debt.

You’re still treated like an idiot.   Especially by resentful managers who have less education than you do, who feel they need to prove some kind of point.  

It’s the only degree that’s sometimes better left unmentionned.   Especially if you’re applying for non-PhD jobs. 

When someone says “Sometimes there is such a thing as TOO MUCH education“, you know exactly what they mean.

You’re well into your 30’s, before you start making the same money as those silly bachelor degrees who started working full-time at age 23. 

The only person who calls you “Doctor” is the 20-year phoning you up from your old alma mater, asking you to donate money to their latest fundraising drive.

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20 Comments on “Some Fringe Benefits of Getting Your PhD.”

  1. Brett Legree Says:

    On the other hand, when your good buddy Brett asks if he can put your name on a reference list, he gets to put Dr. Friar on there!

    I was tempted to put Herr Doktor Professor Friar just for a joke…

    Hey, speaking of jokes, on the other hand, you might just be on the right hand side of the IQ bell curve.

    Like that joke says, if the median IQ is 100, that means about half of the people out there are dumber than that 🙂

  2. Mike Goad Says:

    I’ve only known one actual PhD in the real world. Dr. Carl came to work at the nuclear plant as a instructor teaching chemistry technicians. I was an operations instructor with, at the time, only a high school education, some military experience and a senior operators license. I’m sure there was a wide disparity in our pay and it wasn’t in his favor. However, we both retired not long after our 55th birthdays.

    Dr. Carl is now teaching chemistry at the local university – for fun. His working environment in academia is now much more relaxed with almost no oversight and minimal administrative BS compared to his career in nuclear power.

  3. Friar Says:


    And all those people on the wrong side of the bell curve are senior managers! 😉

    Well, in terms of retiring, I’m looking at “Freedom 85” myself. 🙂

    I’ve applied to universities and colleges to teach, not too long ago. Really difficult to get in, and almost always, it’s only a part-time instructor position.

    Mabye when I’m 86, I’ll take up teaching! 😉

  4. Brett Legree Says:



    Dammit. If I could find that article on IQ vs. potential in life vs. suitability for corporations.

    (For anyone who cares) the article suggested that people who are mildly smarter than average (say 105 IQ) make good managers – they are clever enough to learn the system and make it work for them, but not so clever as to question how screwed up it may or may not be.

    Really smart people can sometimes have moral issues with the machinery of corporations and get really frustrated.

    Then, the mildly clever people think the really smart people are trying to screw things up.

    I guess you and I are just too smart, eh Friar? 😉

  5. Friar Says:


    Problem with some companies, is that they’re run by people with high AQ’s

    (A-hole quotient!) 🙂

  6. Kelly Says:

    Dr. Friar,

    LMAO, especially at you and your chiropractor. And at the remote and South Park. Oh, the whole thing is brilliant. Now I know why I didn’t keep going with my education. I get enough sh*t from friends and family without extra letters after my name to prove them “right.”

    Freedom 85—love it. You get that plan if you take your bachelor’s as an adult student, too. Happy I did, but I get reminded of my joy way too often. Ick.

    Well, have a good day using your degree!



  7. Karen Swim Says:

    Friar, I laughed because this is so true. The baby faced kid who started a business at age 14, skipped college entirely and is a multimillionaire. It does validate however, that intelligence has little to do with academia. You can succeed with and without it.

    Brett and Friar, I’d love to see that article on IQ, could explain my inherent frustration with corporate life.

  8. XUP Says:

    Oh, boo-hoo!You didn’t get your PhD to earn money or retire early or be a social super-star. Anyone who can tolerate that much university does it because they love learning – period. And you did that, so congratulations. It really is an awesome achievement. Getting through 2 degrees was difficult enough. I couldn’t have forced myself through a PhD even if there had been promises of riches at the end of the road. You could change your blog name to Dr. Friar, though – that would be cool

  9. Beth Partin Says:


    I only went through a master’s, but I know exactly what you mean. My brother who has 6 months computer training from DrVry has made in the six figures, whereas I’m still in the low five. Oh well–back then I thought all this education would lead me to some money, but now I’m wiser.

  10. Brett Legree Says:

    @Karen Swim,

    Yeah, it was a good article (wish I could find it!) and it wasn’t very kind to people who had the sort of mentality to fit into corporations (it basically called them droids…)

    As XUP says, we didn’t do our engineering because we thought it would make us rich (if I had just wanted that, I could have become a criminal, it would have worked much better!)

    And about what Beth said – I always figured it was a combination of several things – personality is a big one, as some people just have “the knack” and “the drive” to get there. And of course the other one is the “fortune” part of “fame and fortune” – if you are “fortunate” enough to meet the right people, you’ll go further in life – it’s a fact.

  11. Friar Says:


    Yep…Freedom 85. I’m going to live in a trailer, and have one can of cat food a day, whether I need it or not. That’s my retirement plan!

    One thing about Grad sure DON’T do it for the money.

    (With the exception of a few close colleagues, I find a lot of PhD’s arrogant knobs, with little or no social skills.

    In one of my jobs, I was teamed with a bunch of high-school educated blue collar workers. I found they were much more down to earth and normal, I could relate to them a whole lot more than the “Doctors” I’ve worked with!

    I admit, I did my PhD because I liked learning. You start off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed…but after four years, you just end up burned out and exhausted. There’s no magic to it…I think it’s 20% intelligence/creativity, and 80% just hard work/sticking to it.

    I’m actually seriously thinking about starting a second blog, on science/teaching related topics. (In my “copious” amounts of free time.)

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d say your brother was the exact SAME person I know. Barely could pass first year university. Took one of those six-month Devry courses or something, and last I heard, he’s making six figures plus, as a manager in Hi-Tech. Who sez life is fair, eh? 🙂

    Yeah, we can control our own success…but luck helps a lot. If you happened to have taken the right college diploma or degree at the right time, you can get there a lot faster than someone who didn’t’.

  12. Brett Legree Says:


    Oh yes – the right place and the right time. There was a fellow a year behind me (Comp Eng ’94) – smart guy, to be sure. He went to San Jose in ’95 because there were no jobs in the GTA for him, started teaching at a college there.

    Started a media company with a friend – sold the company in ’98 for $75M US… two guys.

    Best part of the story as far as I see it is that he set up a charity and is working overseas in Afghanistan helping rebuild the infrastructure (he’s from there originally). He could so easily have wasted his fortune, but he hasn’t – so he’s very deserving of this in my book.

    Just a neat example of right place right time for the right person.

  13. Friar Says:


    I take my hats off to those who made their fortune and DID something with it.

    Like Bill Gates. Remember everyone used to make fun of him for being so stinking rich? Now he does great philanthropy work. And nobody makes fun of him anymore.

  14. Eyeteaguy Says:

    Friar, great post! Funny and intelligent. I am glad you are back from vacation 😉

    Some of my history, I have more degrees than a thermometer.
    I did Poli Sci in the hopes of being a lawyer, nope, too much “selling of soul” involved.
    Then I was going to do my masters, nope, too much academic politics.
    Then I just gave up and sold packaging supplies, nope, good money but let’s be serious here.
    So I moved to BC and worked for Ford, nope, corporate was not my scene, if you know what I mean.
    So I went back to school and became a motorcycle mechanic. But I was always “too smart” to work the wrenches and they kept putting me in the office.
    So I went back to school and got my Microsoft Certification.
    And here I sit, master of my own domain (that’s an IT joke)
    I’m not done yet, but I think no more school.

    Its very difficult to know what to do, they say a good education will make you rich and happy. But not really. So what advice do we give our young? I advise they go and read Brett’s last post.

    Nuff sed.


  15. This was a fun post. Kinda makes me wonder why I considered going on to get a PhD.

  16. Friar Says:


    I jumped around from one job to another too. Pulp nad Paper, Nortel (yes, I was in high tech, briefly). Hydrogen Fuel Cells. And now the Widget Factory.

    Still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. In the mean time, I’ll keep collecting my paycheck.

    But DEFINITELY, no more school for me! (Grade 23 is enough!)

  17. Friar Says:


    As long as you realize you didn’t do it for the money. That’s the first step towards recovery! 🙂

  18. Steve Says:

    I have a great chiropractic doctor, so I didn’t think your joke was funny. But yeah, change that to fake doctor like dentist or physical therapist, or Nurse Practitioner… Get real, what is that, a nurse who wants to be a doctor??? Go and get your Phd!!!
    Still LMAO

  19. Friar Says:


    Well, my chiropractor thought it was funny!

  20. […] Para lo que sirve el PhD Octubre 20, 2009 Deja un comentario Ir a los comentarios The Deep Friar […]

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