Does getting a Ph.D. negatively impact your career in the software industry? I have heard from several people that Ph.D.'s are considered "Over Qualified" for software development or management jobs and are not even called for interviews. On the other hand, I have seen a few very senior managers (CEO's and Directors) with Ph.D.'s. If you want to continue working in the industry then is it a bad idea to think about getting a Ph.D.?
Can a phd degree have a negative impact on your career in the industry?
A stigma attached to PhD's (right or wrong) in software development is that they have trouble actually writing code. Much of the PhD path is mathematics and writing papers describing the mathematics, which (except for a few niche positions) is largely useless in the world of software development. In the corporate world, the ability to infer problems from clients and creatively solve them is vital - something that the PhD track does not involve a lot of.
Further, a candidate with a PhD will often have far less job experience than undergrad candidate at the same age. Beyond that, there is another stigma that the PhD candidate will demand higher salary than their similarly aged undergrad equivalent.
Personally, I have found that the latter stigma is mostly incorrect. PhD candidates aren't often demanding right out of school due to the same ignorance that makes undergrad candidates not as demanding right out of school.
On the other side, more than half of the programmers with a PhD I've worked with over the years have been horrible programmers. They were enthralled with esoteric languages/concepts that were impractical/unmaintainable. Or the methodical approach that works well for a thesis was incompatible with the high speed development environment of the company. Or they couldn't grasp the needs of our customers. Or they simply were bad at coding because it didn't interest them at all.
I don't think it's necessarily bad to get a PhD if you want one, but realize that many interviewers (myself included) will be more demanding to make sure that you can actually produce software. Having a number of practical open source projects or even blog posts about non-ivory tower subjects would help quite a bit.
> Does getting a phd negatively impact your career in the industry? >
I have completed a PhD in CS a couple of years back and received very good offers from very good software companies. Now I am enjoying my job life to the fullest and also getting above average salary package. PhD is not just a degree. You will learn several skills during your PhD education. First question you have to ask is why someone want to do PhD. Personally I think that if you would like to become an expert in a specific area then PhD is one of the ways to achieve that.
That being said, getting a job in the industry is somewhat different. Typically, software companies give preference to "experience" compared to "education". However, I don't see any problem in getting an entry level "development/coding" job position with a PhD. But most of the software "development" companies look for aptitude and programming skills compared to research skills. It doesn't matter whether he/she has a PhD or a MS/BS degree.
However, once you are in a job, your PhD skills might be helpful to add a great value to your employer and thus for getting promotions quickly. Between, PhDs get more money than MS/BS (with more or less same work experience). Furthermore, academia, research labs, and some R&D companies prefer PhDs.
Given two candidates of the same age, same background, and same experience, but one has a PhD and one doesn't, I see no reason that any company would take the one with fewer credentials (all other things being equal).
The Drawbacks of Higher Education
The issue with a PhD is likely not that you have a PhD (which is a good thing), but rather that you had to sacrifice something else (work experience, etc.) to get it. So rather than looking at two people with identical skills, it is more likely that they're looking at a 26 year-old with a PhD and no work experience vs. a 23 year-old with one year of work experience (or something of the sort).
A PhD in and of itself means very little. The question is how will having a PhD help out the company over someone else without it but with relevant work experience? You need to be able to explain to the company why your PhD is valuable to the company. This goes with just about any sort of experience, work or otherwise, that you have.
As someone who does alot of software interviews and has 2 Masters degrees (one technical and an MBA), plus I job hop alot..., it will only hurt you for the crappy jobs. You will frequently get asked in interviews why you want to work here with a PhD. I think they are silly questions. Its just a degree. Basically say 'I like what I do and so on'. They will bring up silly research stuff. The goal is to deflect this fast and get them focused on what you can do for them. Interviews are a sales pitch and you have a short period of time to convince them you can do the job.
As far as over-qualified. Yeah this can happen at crappy jobs that don't pay well and want long hours. They are worried you will quit like the last batch of people they hired.
I have worked with people who are PhDs (worked with one of my professors) and worked with people without degrees. I can care less about your degree. The technical screen will tell me if I think you can produce and when I meet you I can tell if I can put up with you and if you bath. I have had issues in the past getting people in the door who don't have degrees. My opinion is that people are paid to get stuff done. If the degree is so useful, then I should be able to tell from the technical screen that you know what you are doing.
That being said, there are times my degrees get me more money and for some silly reason people are impressed. The MBA hurts sometimes because I get asked 'uh do you want to go into management, we need a tech'. No I don't. Then I usually tell the tech the truth that MBA is pretty useless and I did it back in my contracting days when I was self employed. They usually like that answer and can identify with me.
Your goal in the interview is to try to get them to hit you with as many good technical questions as possible and sell them on your ability to produce. If you let the interview get bogged down on your degree odds are you won't get the job.
Can a phd degree have a negative impact on your career in the industry?
Sure, it is possible for there to be additional points to consider if you have this in your background. How well it does though likely depends on what kinds of roles one seeks with a Ph.D.
Does getting a phd negatively impact your career in the industry?
Not necessarily. The key question is how does one use this as part of their background. If one is going for entry-level software development jobs, then the Ph.D. may be a hurdle to work around as the position could be seen as being too low to do by HR and others. Thus, one has to recognize that some jobs may be removed from consideration by having the credential and a perceived expectation of wanting to be paid more.
If you want to continue working the industry then is it a bad idea to think about getting a phd?
No, thinking about getting a Ph.D. is a fine idea. Be aware of what advantages and disadvantages this has, how will the tuition be paid, what kind of Thesis is one planning on doing, and how does this fit into one's career progression. Actually going through with it, that's another story though you didn't ask about execution, merely pondering it.
I just have my Bachelor's and have no desire to go get a Ph.D. though I can imagine for some people it isn't that bad of an idea to get the Ph.D. if there is some branch within Computer Science that appeals to them to study and work within that area. For a lot of basic IT roles, a Ph.D. would likely be seen as making one over-qualified.
PhDs in the computer science world are for academics. If you want to be a professor you will need a PhD. If you want to be the head of a Computer Science department you'll need several.
However, in the business world an undergraduate degree is often a requirement, but after that further degrees don't help much. Some exceptions might include managing a state IT department, or some kind of Wall Street quant operation. However, in the latter case the thesis would have to be on the quantitative analysis. Some employers look particularly carefully at degrees, and tune out people that seem to be more focused on what school they went to than what they've done.
Some research labs will want PhDs. However, they also want publication. Therefore, if you aren't showing up in the journals the PhD by itself is useless. What you're doing overall is painting yourself in a corner - you're restricting your job opportunities to high powered labs.