I am sure this is a quite subjective topic, but I haven't been able to find like clear advice or info about this particular situation. Also, I'm going to give some context; therefore, you could understand my dilemma.

I've been in the IT industry for a considerable amount of time, but I have always wanted to get a PhD since this is a life goal.

For the last 4+ years (in Europe), I've been working in a technology company between a software engineer and a kind of IT consultant where I have developed software, introduced new technologies, good practices and techniques that allowed me to promoted a couple of times, but that feeling of getting a PhD in a new country (kind of requirement, preferably Western Europe) is still there alive, I still would like to go beyond.

When I started to work I was more open to any PhD since I was finishing my master, but 3+ years has passed and I have seen so many changes in IT from web development, desktop development to Robotic Process Automation and Machine Learning and many more (DARQ) that are coming that create thousands of doubts of this decision since I have no friends or relatives with a similar story who I can talk about it.

Also, most of advice are connected to early studies, not after working for a considerable amount of time.

Pros & Cons of a PhD in Computer Science

Furthermore, I need add an important point, I want to come back to the industry since I really enjoy it, but I'd like to read your opinions about this situation. What Pros and Cons do you see? Have you ever experienced something like this? Or maybe you know someone?

As Scott suggested about my personal goals (excellent reminder since we need goals in our lives):

  • To relocate to a new destination.
  • To establish my own business.
  • To develop new technologies.
  • To build a successful network of contacts.
  • To improve the life of my fellows in Latin America.

I could have more goals that I'm working on them (I'm not waiting for them to happen, I take regular actions). Also, I would like highlight one point, I'm aware that for my goals, I don't need a PhD, I could go higher in my company without a PhD since it's not a requirement in almost any organization, the only place that I have seen where they ask you for a PhD is in the Academia that as I said I don't see myself as lecturer, perhaps, per hour.

Thanks for any advice that you have.

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    Where in Latin America? I have some friends in Peru working on spreading an enterpreneurial approach to engineering education, to help their infrastructure and reduce brain drain. Feel free to ping me in chat, if this is relevant to you. – Scott Seidman Aug 26 '19 at 13:18
  • Related to your goals (but not to the question of Ph.D.), you might model your approach after what fundacion-jala.org has done in Bolivia. – shoover Aug 26 '19 at 17:40
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    Hi @ScottSeidman, my main target would be Central America in its moment :), it's not the moment yet, but we could be in touch. – Federico Navarrete Aug 26 '19 at 19:23
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    Hi @shoover, I already have an idea of what I'd like to work in Central America and I have some contacts in my region :), but thanks for the idea. – Federico Navarrete Aug 26 '19 at 19:24

As with most people asking such questions, your approach is exactly backwards. You shouldn't be thinking about the pros and cons of going for a PhD -- you should be thinking about what your career goals and long term goals are, and whether you need a PhD to reach them or not.

Once you understand the answer to that, all your other questions will then be in context. For example, If you long term goals are to retire at age 55 with $2M US in a retirement account, now you can actually do the math based on current salaries, starting salaries in a new position, living on a stipend, ....

Without us knowing your goals, because you haven't told them to us, there is zero context for answering this question. Unless YOU know these goals, you can ask about pros and cons all you like, and not really understand the answers you get.

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    Thanks for the reminder Scott. I added some of them. – Federico Navarrete Aug 26 '19 at 13:09

In Germany, for becoming a professor at a "Fachhochschule" (University of applied sciences) a period (3-5 years) of industry R&D I heard is very common and wished. Also for normal universities you will often see in CV's of STEM professors that they had such an period in an industry research lab (IBM, Phillips,...).

You also have to see that industry has sometimes a quite big advance in knowledge, but they neither publish it as a patent or article. A company like Intel, Samsung will not give away their secrets of nanofabrication etc. Having such knowledge or just seeing how industry researchers work can be a big advantage in disinct fields and topics for an academic career.

In Germany funding programs in which Postdoc's develop together with industry R&D departments and several companies demonstrators or prototype on the TRL ladder are very common and necessary to bring newest results and methodology from fundamental research into industry.

There are always pros and cons to a distinct decision, but when thinking about a job career or decisions with long term consequences, I suggest to rather think in maximizing options and diversifying risks instead of looking on short and mid-term pro's.

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