For many the idea of being a professor seems like a distant and somewhat impossible career goal, but I assure you that it is not. The path to a professorship is a challenging one but if you love doing research, you love traveling the world and learning about new places, or you love sharing knowledge then its a career path to consider. Its not the most lucrative of career paths in comparison to the amount of time we spend in school. You will not come out making what a medical doctor makes. Also, an average Ph.D. program (in the United States) takes five years and some programs require that you attain a Master's degree first, which adds on two to three years of study. Yes, I know that sounds like a lot. However, if you are excited about finding out new information or learning more about philosophy, religion, science, art, etc., then you are merely pursuing what you love and hopefully getting paid a little bit for it in the process.
Though most students have to pay for the costs of a Masters program, the majority of Ph.D. programs fund their students, which includes a stipend for living expenses. Thus, being a Ph.D. student is basically a job though not at all a highly paid job, and yet its enough to live on. Despite the low pay, it has it perks. Its not a 9-to-5. However, this can be challenging at times as well since you have to manage your time carefully. Your job is basically to research, teach, and learn. Thus, if you enjoy it, you are getting paid to do what you love and not everyone can say that. Also, there are various opportunities to get funded for both domestic and international travel either related to your research or for conferences and other academic workshops. I have thus far been to South Africa, Ghana, and Burkina Faso, and I will be going to the Republic of Benin at the end of the summer.
However, keep in mind as you are contemplating this educational and career path that for better or for worst pursuing a Ph.D. is not like pursuing either a Bachelors or a Masters. The first two years (of most programs) is coursework, however, after that part of your program much of your work is independent. So, it can actually get more challenging. You will then be expected to pass exams in your three or four areas of specialization, to submit and have a research proposal approved, conduct the research for your dissertation, and then write your dissertation and have it approved by your faculty. A Ph.D. program essentially gives you the unique opportunity to become an expert in your area of research, so being self-motivated is very important.
I hope I have given you a little bit of a glimpse into the Ph.D. world. I look forward to providing advise on admissions processes, general preparation, project development, research design, research practices, and any other areas related to academic and career development.