I am a chemist with an MS degree with considerably over ten years experience in industry,
I think the experienced MS may have an easier time than a newly minted PhD, since after ten years of work not only can the MS demonstrate research experience in nonacademic settings, but also tends to present as more attuned to corporate/industrial/nonacademic culture. On the other hand, I suspect that when facing an interview committee of PhDs, the MS candidate would still be at somewhat of a disadvantage, However, most experienced professionals know how to prepare for specific interview situations and are generally pretty confident with any level.
How would the new PhD distinguish herself/himself from the seasoned MS competitor? I think the new doctorate should show the potential to contribute, and to imply the advantages to the company of the authority that tends to be attributed to PhDs. If the position is for a research associate, the PhD should somehow demonstrate that s/he could reach senior scientist, director, and more. Thei ntervviewee should give a polished, confident presentaiton of research, have good communication skills during the interview, and display knowledge of the company as a business. If a new PhD appeared to have the potential to become as knowledgeable as the MS already is, I think that the PhD could be favored.
Most importat is the industrial experience.
No one wants to hire people with academic experiences not even the academia or research institutes.
One thing is sure a person with PhD IS NOT considered for a MS job no matter how many experineces has, so has less opportunities.
I am applying for both, not even an interview.
It seems to me in today's job market that the majority of positions are advertised as requiring a PhD and most of them are not even willing to look at someone who does not have the degree. If I were doing the hiring I would rather look at the MS or BS people with longer relavent experience than at most PhD candidates. My experience is that 90% of the people with PhDs are not worth the water that holds their bodies together when it comes to real world knowledge. However, that does not seem to be the norm with the majority of the companies that advertise open positions nowdays. So it really depends on the company and the person that has the hiring authority, but my recent experience is that the piece of paper is more valued by most companies than the real expertise and knowledge is.
I'll take relevant experience over degree any time.
As memory recalls the basic difference between a MS and a PhD is the research thesis. After so many years you would expect that difference to be minimum. Yet that is not the case. I have a BS and a MS and did a thesis for both, over 20 years of practical experience and have written 3 books. Yet when I applied for a job (which was an administrative position) I was told "we are really looking for someone with a PhD".
I can understand wanting a PhD for a research position, but not for a position that has no research involved. At one job I had I was told that the Lab DIrector wanting to hire only PhD, for the status, but changed his mind after hiring the last PhD. It turned out he admitted it was the biggest mistake he made.
I am just now waiting to become graduate in my Ph.D. on next March, 2011. I, completed M.S. two times in different fields relating to Organic Chemistry with thesis. But there is no doubt, my Ph.D. research training obviously better than my two M.S.
I am a retired scientist with an MS in Chemistry. I found over the 30 years in the profession, that a PhD was unnecessary for advancement in my fields of interest. These projects, in both academia and industry, involved early studies in the viral etiology of cancer, earth sciences studies for interplanetary exploration, classified chemistry projects for the development of detection systems for chemical warfare agents, development of blood compatible materials for blood vessel replacements and cardiac assist devices, and the development and use of biological/chemical process safety equipment and systems. My career has spanned a fascinating variety of projects such as these, and in others that have been intensely rewarding, intellectually and financially. I agree that in these times an MS degree and many years of experience is more marketable.
Several additional thoughts on this discussion topic:
1. Education is really a continuum of learning experiences, and it's therefore often incorrect to assume that you need a Ph.D. to perform certain work (or the converse, that a B.S. or M.S. could not perform this work). There are B.S. and M.S. folks who can run circles around Ph.D.s, depending on experience. On the other hand, there are fields of study that almost certainly require the training and experiences obtained as part of a Ph.D. program. There will also be jobs for which a Ph.D. is not sufficient, and you need that, plus a post-doctoral experience, plus years of experience working in personnel management, budgets, regulatory environments, etc. (think manager of a complex technical division of a large, multinational research organization).
2. Another aspect to having a certain degree level, one which I don't see mentioned very often, is that obtaining a certain degree level demonstrates to a potential employer that you have the discipline, organization, and level of commitment required for that degree. In other words, the value of a degree is not just that it demonstrates what you know, but that you had the discipline and commitment to take it to completion. That means a lot in the eyes of a potential employer.
3. Personally, one of the most valuable experiences of my Ph.D. experience was not just learning more about chemistry, but being exposed to a large number of really bright people (the professors) and a large number of people seeking the same degree (the students). Both of these aspects taught me a lot more about how R&D is done (at least in academia).
From what I've seen, a Master's degree in Chemistry may be not the happiest place to be. Too educated for some jobs and not educated enough for the ones that demand a high education. Still, I think employers would find 10 yrs experience more useful than a high degree.