It’s extremely difficult to get a job as a professor these days, especially in the humanities. I used to be one and quit. Here’s why:
1. You have to be flexible enough to be willing to move pretty much anywhere because the job openings are so sparse. My professor friends work in places like rural Louisiana and rural Indiana; other colleagues seem to move every 3-5 years. The profs I know who are MARRIED all work in DIFFERENT STATES (if they are both in humanities; the profs who are both in sciences/tech and/or couples in which one is in science/tech seem to do okay with finding jobs at the same school or at least in the same city)–if they work in the same city, only one of them is in academia and the other is working outside of it.
2. Life as junior faculty sucks to such a degree that you reaaallllly have to love what you do in order to put up with it, frankly. The starting salary where I was was about $50K, but for that, you had to teach 5 classes, participate on committees, advise graduate students, and somehow, in your *free time* publish and attend conferences. Now, some people are totally cut out for this and love the subject so much that a monk-like existence suits them fine. For me, I wanted a family and to actually spend time with them so this wasn’t a good fit for me.
3. The politics will get to you. I left academia in the end because I didn’t get tenure. That’s been happening more and more and it’s hard not to be really bitter when it does because if you look at the work you put in above, it’s hard to not to feel like the school pretty much used you for 5 years. And if you don’t get tenure, you have that much of a harder time on the job market and you’re faced with starting over and doing all that for ANOTHER 5 years (and maybe not even getting tenure after that). And while I still believe that if you’re meant to be an academic, you’ll find a way and make it, it’s true that this is also not an uncommon experience these days, and it’s really terrible when it happens. I mean, I felt my record was strong (strong enough to get tenure), and I also graduated from an Ivies and all that–ie, my academic “pedigree,” if you will, was pretty good, so there wasn’t really much in my profile alone that should have prevented me from getting tenure, except that there were people I was competing with who were that much better. It is a competitive job market.
This isn’t meant to scare you, and you have to understand that I’m clearly a person who didn’t take to academia so there’s some bias in my feelings, but I am telling you the truth about it being hard to find a job and also it being a demanding job when you’re in it, with (I felt) very little rewards. I think the take-home in all that is a) do consider the lifestyle and how it works with what you want in your life and b) to think about getting a PhD because you really want to be an academic, and NOT because you think it will help you carve out a job. In my experience, now being outside of academia with a PhD, it *can* open doors, and it can also close them. I do struggle with being told that I am underqualified in terms of experience and overqualified in terms of education–in order to overcome this hurdle, I found more success if my targeted jobs were in a very narrow field (ie, not generalized non-profit but a non-profit specifically invested in my particular area of study). I think you’re experiencing this now, personally, because your Masters in Public Policy demonstrates you can theoretically write a grant, but chances are that the organizations want to see a dollar amount indicating how much grant money you’ve actually raised (you can offer your services pro-bono or find part-time grantwriting work in order to build up that porftolio, btw). Without that number, they won’t care if you have a PhD in development. So that’s my take on it–get the PhD because it is necessary to do the work you want to do. Don’t get the PhD under the assumption that it will help you become more appealing as a job seeker.
And one final thing–most PhD programs are fully funded (ie, your tuition is covered and you can be eligible for stipends), but if you’re thinking about any sort of program that requires you to pay money, I would run.