As I was approaching the end of my Ph.D. I went through a phase that I think many(all?) doing that go through. I wanted to quit and never finish this. Massive annoyance and the feeling that the PI I was working for was probably the dumbest person on the planet. Essentially, I hated everything and knew that I did not want to grow up and be a PI in any sort of biologic science. I wanted to get out and DO something. I wanted to go work at a software company, become a gazillionaire and retire at 30. As I was wrapping up in 1999, this seemed very possible....Unfortunatly I didn't finish quite fast enough and I got out just in time for the dot.boom to take place and I did not become a gazzillionaire by 30. Sad really.
However, I did get my Ph.D. This is my wifes fault. My mother too, but mostely my wife. I don't know what she said, but essentially it was "you will hate your self if you quit", and so I didn't quit, and in fact finished.
This leads to my current job. We awhile ago parted ways with another Bus Dev guy here, and I got more insight in to the budget. Translation: I now know how much he was making. I can see that he had an MBA but had joined straight after getting that MBA. I joined with less than 5 years experience post Ph.D. I was making $40K more per year than he was.
That is what a Ph.D. gets you in real dollars. Yes, I was better at selling myself than him and did some other things, but the core point I think holds true that 3 letters = $40K/yr with no glass ceiling to bump in to as I go up in companies.
Now, others will have another opinion. For example this blog talks about how a Ph.D. isn't that important to you to complete and the world won't end etc.... I totally agree with her as well. There are an awful lot of bright people without Ph.D.'s. Many of them smarter than me. BUT - I will get paid more than them. Also, others will pick up the phone, answer the email, or in some other way acknowledge me, whereas the folks without have an extra hoop to jump through. It isn't right, but it is totally true. The woman above was NOT in a hard science, so I can't speak to her life at all. In the hard sciences, at a Biotech company, the Ph.D. is a glass ceiling more than any other thing. Without it, you better not want to be in charge or have too much responsibility. You won't get it. There are some exceptions, but those folks have problems when they want to leave the company they 'grew up' at, as other companies will push them back down the totem pole.
I freely admit that I judge people based on their reaction to learning I have a Ph.D. If it impresses them, I think less of them. I also freely admit to including it in my email sig, as for those to whom it matters are all over the place. I don't want to be judged to not have it and then miss out on the deal/conversation. But it shouldn't impress you.
oh yeah, the $40K/yr is nice too.....