It's stated that a philosophical doctorate or a PhD for short is the highest level of certification you can achieve. You have your AA, AS, BA, BS, MBA, JDs, and your PhDs. PhDs are needed for getting into certain job markets and obtaining certain job positions. A PhD means that you're a doctor or a professor in various fields of study. There are only a few job positions where a PhD is required.
The medical profession if you want to be a doctor, you're going to need a PhD. That's pretty much self-explanatory in its own right in the field of medical science. You'll probably need to have a PhD if you want to become a pharmacist as well. In short, the medical field is one example of where a PhD is needed. That goes for any kind of medical science from surgeon, neurosurgeon, psychiatrist, etc. If you're going to be a doctor, you're going to need to have a PhD. It's as simple as that.
The other need for a PhD is if you want to go into teaching at a college level. College professors are required to have a PhD, there are no exceptions about it. If you want to become an English professor, you're going to need a PhD in English. If you want to become a Journalism professor, you're going to need a PhD in English. If you want to become a science professor, you're going to need a PhD in whatever field of science you're going to teach. If you want to become a math professor, you're going to need a PhD in mathematics. If you want to be a drama professor you're going to need either a PhD in English or the performing arts.
Also in various fields of science and research, PhDs are required. But most of the scientists are college professors. So that aspect goes hand and hand with the requirement of having a PhD to become a science professor.
I used to be a substitute teacher myself for about two years. The thought of being a teacher had crossed my mind. However with the current politics today, I wouldn't even fathom it. But if I did want to teacher, I'd rather be a college professor because college are more liberal and give more latitude than public schools. If that was the case, I would then go ahead and pursue a PhD. Other than that, I wouldn't need to get a PhD at all.
If you're not going to become a doctor or a professor, don't bother getting a PhD. Though a PhD would look good on a resume and help with credentials, there are drawbacks. When applying for a job that doesn't require a PhD, you're going to get the short end of the straw mainly because you're "overqualified." A good number of jobs are getting outsourced overseas to other countries because they can pay the people much cheaper. With company layoffs, MBAs are usually the first to be laid off because it's more expensive to keep them on hand. Think about the possibility of what would happen if there were a few people that hold PhDs.
When applying for a job, a good number of employers are scared of people that hold PhDs. It shows that you're more "qualified" than they are and will fear that you'll eventually take the person's job and s/he will be without a job or demoted to a lower level job. That's one example of how having a PhD will hurt you if you don't use it what it's usually intended for: fields of sciences and college level instruction. It's not common for people in this country that hold PhDs to end up working a mininum wage job flipping burgers at McDonald's or working as a bag boy or a bag girl.
There was one example of that reality from this sitcom that went off the air a few years back called "Becker" with Ted Danson. This one character named Reggie played by Terry Farrell runs a rundown diner inherited from her father who is also going to school studying psychology. Becker had to go to the top of this one building and console Reggie because she was close to getting her degree. One of the guards on top of the building happened to have a degree in psychology and the guard job doesn't pay well. And it turned out that the guard and Reggie had the same professor. Then it's revealed that the professor ended up waiting tables at a nearby restaurant.
It would seem that the more educated you are the more money you'll make, but in today's world and especially not in the United States, that is no longer the case.
Think about it this way, if and when you get the PhD, then what? What are you going to do after that? Obtaining a PhD means you're going to have to put forth a commitment of putting in long hours of study. Once you have the PhD, job market will have already changed. People that have bachelor's and master's degrees are still having a hard time finding employement especially if the job market is low in certain areas. A friend of mine holds an MBA from Duke University and was recently laid off his job. At the moment he's trying to apply for a new job. Think about the difficulty of one who holds a PhD.
Before you decide to get the PhD, you need to think long and hard of what you want to do and stick with it. Also think if what you want is worth obtaining that PhD. If it is, then go and get it. Later down the path if you're just not feeling it anymore, drop out and pursue something else. There are relatively a few fields of study with job positions that require a PhD. Keep in mind the possible reality of when you obtain the PhD that various places aren't hiring any doctors, professors, scientists, etc. PhDs seem to also be the most susceptible to getting laid off when budget cuts come. And yes, for many schools, businesses, and medical practices, budget cuts are inevitable.
But from what I had learned there are some places where a PhD could hold valuable though it's not required. You could get a PhD in political science or some other field of study and go into politics. There are a lot of political and activist groups that are looking for people that hold PhDs. Some examples are the ACLU, NAACP, NRA, Republican National Committee, Democratic National Committee, Green Party, and other groups whether they're left-winged, right-winged, middle, etc. You might want to look into that direction. Those groups are looking to recruit people with degrees because they hold "credibility."
I know a lot of the liberal groups are looking to recruit people with PhDs. And most of the college professors I know usually vote liberal instead of conservative. So at the moment any field of political science should be worth looking into. But other than that, getting a PhD is not worth the time and the money unless you're one-hundred percent certain you want to be a doctor or a college professor.