I'm trying to weigh my options early to decide whether it's best for me to go on to a PhD program after I finish my MS in physics or go into industry. A little background: I'm in my first year (first semester, at that) of my MS program in physics. I'm at the same school I completed my BS in physics at (San Diego State University), which isn't a highly recognized department by any means (although I really like it). My undergrad GPA was 2.85 while my last 60 was 3.1 and my last 30 was 3.56 and I will receive a 4.0 in the 6 units I'm currently enrolled in. I'm also a TA for physics at SDSU. My research will be in experimental condensed matter physics (superconducting materials to be more specific). My adviser has close ties with Univ. of Montana's program as well as Univ. of Iowa so I see myself likely heading to one of their PhD programs after I finish, although I'll be applying to others. My end goal is to get a job in industry. I'd potentially like to move on to patent agent work (or attorney) after being in industry for at least a solid few years and getting "real life" experience under my belt. I'm really really enjoy teaching but I can't stand the grant money/department politicking that has to happen to go on to a tenured professor position at a university. So, the question is: Do I get a job with an MS degree or go for the higher degree and go into industry from there? What kind of pay difference am I looking at? What sort of positions would I be applying for, assuming they'll be different depending on the degree? I've already asked myself (and answered the basic questions). Will I mind moving to a new environment? No. Both my gf (whom I live with and who would be coming with me) and I have already talked about moving to Montana or Iowa or elsewhere and we'd look forward to the temporary change. Is money an issue at the moment? No. We'd be fine living off stipend money while I'm there. She has her teaching credential and will have her masters in sociology by the time we'd move. She would work. I would have my stipend and we would be ok. Do I like doing research in a university environment? Yes. But I don't want to overshoot my goals. I'm looking for that happy balance between time put into a degree and career stability/salary. Sorry for the long-winded post but I've seen the questions asked by responders so I thought I'd answer most of them outright. Thank you in advance.