I'm a master CS student in a German university now writing my thesis. I will be done in two months I have to make the very hard decision if I should continue with a PhD or find a job in the industry.
My reasons for doing a PhD:
I'm a very curious person and I feel I still lack too much knowledge. I want to learn a lot and the PhD will help me for that, since I can do more good courses and read tons of papers and be an expert in data mining and machine learning. I love math but wasn't good at it in my undergrad (bad uni). Now in this German Uni I feel I developed a lot of great math skills and I want to improve that because I really really love math! (I was really really bad in math in my undergrad and during my lifetime but now I see I can do math well!)
I will work with intellectually challenging stuff.
I need to be honest and say that also I hate to see someone else with a higher degree than me. So if I walk into the street and see someone with a PhD, I don't have to say "oh wow this guy is smarter than me." I prefer to be on the other side. ;)
My reasons for NOT doing a PhD:
I read on the internet about doing a PhD or not doing it. I found out that in the most and usual cases people with a PhD do the same kind of work of people with masters. (that was a general observation in computer science, not about ML/DM).
I can start a career and make a lot of money in 1 or 2 years, then I can probably start my own company.
What is not clear yet:
I still don't know what is my ultimate goal at the end. Is it to have a famous little company? Or is it to be a famous scientist? I still don't have an answer for this question yet.
To help me make a decision I want to know two things:
What is it like to work as a data scientist/machine learner with a master degree in the industry? What kind of work you do? Especially when I read those ads on Amazon as a machine learning scientist, I always wonder what they do.
The same question as before, but with a PhD. Do you do something different or the same thing as with masters?
Am I going to deal with challenging interesting problems? Or some boring stuff?
As a slight note: I have seen a guy with a PhD in machine learning (in Germany) and is working in a company that promotes a machine learning software. As I understood most of his job is training people to use the methods and software (decision trees ..etc).
It would be great if I can get some answers of experiences related to Germany/Switzerland in some famous good companies.