Only 0.9% of the American population has earned their doctoral degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 report. Earning such a degree puts you in an elite academic category, but only a few careers will require that PhD after your name. Here are six jobs for which earning your PhD will be a requirement. (To see the impact of your education, check out How Education And Training Affect The Economy.)

TUTORIAL: Economics Basics

1. Chief Scientist - $157,168
This applies for any science discipline, and this job is sometimes referred to as a Principal Investigator. The average salary ranges between $115,951 and $198,385, reflecting the years of study invested and the high degree of specialty.

At its simplest, the job of a Chief Scientist is to lead and carry out scientific research. They may be involved in the research and development (R&D) of new drugs or technology.

2. Professor - $82,374
Most professorships will require the candidate to have successfully defended their doctoral thesis. However, in business, law and medicine, sometimes real world experience may be sufficient without a PhD. This job is considered by many to be the most direct application for a completed doctoral degree – after spending so many years in academics, successful PhD graduates certainly know their way around the system.

Some professors focus on teaching, while others must find a balance between their time in the classroom and their own research and publications. An additional upside to this career is the possibility of tenure, which ensures that the professor cannot be fired without just cause and due process. This allows for a much greater stability in employment. (For more on teaching, see Academic Careers In Finance.)

3. Anthropologist - $44,756
While a PhD is not required for all levels, it is for most research positions. Anthropologists may also work concurrently as assistant professors or lecturers. While the average is a bit lower than the other jobs on this list, those with a PhD would likely fall in the top 10% of the salary range, for which the salary is significantly higher at $87,890, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Anthropologists study the origins and behavior of humans. They investigate earlier civilizations for clues as to how they lived, worked and evolved.

4. Astronomer/Astrophysicist - $81,208
These scientists observe, research, and interpret celestial and astronomical phenomena, according to Payscale. More than half of the professionals in this field are employed by the Federal Government or scientific R&D firms. They apply their knowledge of the universe to scientific and technological advancement. According to the BLS, almost all astronomers do research, although some do purely theoretical work. (To help students with the cost of going to school in one of these profession, read Students, Get More Bang For Your Textbook Dollars.)

5. University Deans, University V.P.s and University Presidents - $76,528
Tenured professors may have the chance to advance to be one of the top-ranking officers of the university. For those at a four-year institution, a PhD will be a requirement (though not usually for a two-year school). Each of these positions is responsible to some extent with the direction of the school, the marketing, the recruiting of new students, and hiring and overseeing faculty members.

6. Federal Reserve Board of Governors - $67,461
There are seven member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. They are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, according to the Federal Reserve website. Ben Bernanke is currently serving his second term as the Chairman of the Board. Dr. Bernanke earned his PhD in 1979 in economics from MIT, and went on to be a Professor of Economics at Princeton. As evidenced by this and some of the other jobs in this list, being a professor opens doors to many high-powered careers – and being a professor requires a PhD. (To learn more about Ben Bernanke, check out Ben Bernanke: Background And Philosophy.)

The Bottom Line
Earning a PhD isn't for everyone; in fact, only a very small percentage of the population will ever achieve this prestigious degree. However, for those who do, there are some highly sought-after careers that will be available to you. (For time on cutting the cost of grad school, read Attend Grad School For Free.)

Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Why Some Celebs Say 'No Inheritance for My Kids'

    To some of the super rich, inherited wealth is not the ultimate gift, it's a burden. Here's how their children—as well as charities—stand to benefit.
  2. Investing

    Kevin O'Leary Biography

    Kevin O'Leary is a television personality, businessman and investor from Canada. A brash public personality with a net worth of roughly $300 million, he is considered to be the Canada’s answer ...
  3. Entrepreneurship

    7 Top-Earning Child Stars

    These seven top-earning child stars earned millions through different parts of the entertainment industry, including television, film and music.
  4. Economics

    What's the 1913 Federal Reserve Act?

    The 1913 Federal Reserve Act was a pivotal congressional act that helped establish the Federal Reserve System as it exists today. It is one of the United States financial system’s most influential ...
  5. Investing News

    Could a Rate Hike Send Stocks Higher?

    A rate hike would certainly alter the investment scene, but would it be for the better or worse?
  6. Entrepreneurship

    8 Top-Earning Country Singers

    These eight country singers have built careers singing about men and women who’ve done them wrong, and they’ve shared their heartache to the tune of millions of dollars.
  7. Professionals

    Will Interest Rates Rise at the Next Fed Meeting?

    Everyone wants to know what the Federal Reserve will do next, but the Fed doesn't even know what it's next move will be.
  8. Personal Finance

    Insider's Guide To The Top U.S. Business Schools

    The best business school for you depends on your skills, career goals and interests. We help future MBA's make a more informed choice.
  9. Professionals

    3 ETFs to Play the Fed's Interest Rate Decision

    These three ETFs offer strong ways to play the Federal Reserve's decision not to raise rates.
  10. Taxes

    Payroll Taxes: Picking Apart Your Paycheck

    Here's what gets deducted from your pay, what your employer pays and where your payroll taxes actually end up.
  1. Does working capital include salaries?

    A company accrues unpaid salaries on its balance sheet as part of accounts payable, which is a current liability account, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do financial advisors need to meet quotas?

    Most financial advisors are required to meet quotas, particularly if they work for firms that pay base salaries or draws ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Who decides when to print money in the US?

    The U.S. Treasury decides to print money in the United States as it owns and operates printing presses. However, the Federal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why do some people claim the Federal Reserve is unconstitutional?

    The U.S. Constitution does not mention the need for a central bank, nor does it explicitly grant the government the power ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between AGI (adjusted gross income) and gross income?

    In the United States, individuals pay taxes based on their adjusted gross income, or AGI, rather than their gross income. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the goals of a "dove" Federal Reserve head?

    The goals of a dovish Federal Reserve head are to maintain low interest rates, stimulate the overall economy, decrease the ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  2. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  3. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  4. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  5. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
  6. Cost Of Funds

    The interest rate paid by financial institutions for the funds that they deploy in their business. The cost of funds is one ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!