I never had the intention of working in academia but decided to get a PhD in EE and I'm glad I did. For jobs developing new technologies it is much easier to get a job if you have a PhD. Other jobs it doesn't matter. I recommend to your graduate to look at the sort of job he wants and see if the people getting hired into those positions have PhDs or not.
Max, I completely agree with what you have mentioned in the last para: follow your heart (and wallet) :). After graduating in EE (in 1999) I also asked the same questions to my seniors in the industry and in academia. Mostly I got the answer from a person working in the industry favoring higher studies and got the answer from a person in academia in favor of industry. I was really confused. I wanted to do masters and PhD., but was little more concerned about my wallet and thought of checking industry first. I thought I could always switch over to academia later. After I got into the job and started earning, it was always difficult to make a concrete decision to switch over as I became more and more concerned about wallet.
But, I have stronger feeling that I should have done PhD,,,that was what I wanted. But it is difficult for me now, because I can't leave my job. What I feel is if the heart says "do higher studies", it is better to complete it and then join industry, otherwise it would be difficult later.
If the last thought about the last written row in the table comes in your mind while thinking or deciding about industries or academics, then you should start knocking the doors of industries as academics is not for these kind of persons. Academics is for delivering if you are on acceptance side better you should think of industries.
@garydpdx: Someone else pointed out that Google and other companies hire people with doctorates...
The only thing I would add here is that -- over the course of my career -- I've obviously met less-able folks who didn't have BScs, Master's, or PhDs -- and I've met some very clever folks who did have BScs, Master's, or PhDs...
BUT ... I've also met folks with PhDs who I wouldn't trust to turn my kitchen light on when it comes to using common sense ... and I've met folks without any sort of academic qualification who can blow me away with regards to knowing "stuff" and actually getting "stuff" done.
Of course having a PhD makes it easier to get some jobs -- but I really appreciate the companies and managers who look at the person in addition to that person's academic qualifications.
@Sanjib.A: Really don't know whether the wallet is "bulging" with enough notes or not...always feels less isn't it? :-)
Tell me about it ... they say that money doesn't buy you happiness ... but I think it buys you a lot more happiness than does poverty LOL
At the end of the day I feel really lucky -- I hav ea roof over my head and food in my tummy -- and I have enough money that if I see a book I want on Amazon I can usually afford to buy it -- life doesn't get much better than that :-)