I’m in my last year in a social psych PhD program, so I wanted to offer my thoughts, a lot of it is echoing PPs.
First off, the academic job market is really rough right now…so take that into consideration. Most of my colleagues are applying for jobs across the US and in Europe, and still sometimes taking more than a year to get a full-time, more permanent position. I’m locationally bound, so I know I will likely have to adjunct longer than planned (which I also do now). Also, you might have to move for the program itself…I was lucky in that I got into a program that was a great fit for me and happened to be very close to where I live…that’s not always the case.
Yes, you should get a PhD if you want to teach at a college-level. Even places like community colleges that have traditionally hired MAs have gotten more and more competetive, so you will vastly increase your chances by getting a PhD.
Also keep in mind that many jobs in this field will also want you to do research—this is becoming increasingly true even at teaching-centric jobs (though of course they expect less research than other schools might). This isn’t true of EVERY job, but is true of many of them. And it’s definitely true of the PhD program itself. It is not true that you will neccesarily have to do a pre-doctoral internship in a PhD program—that’s true of clinical/counseling psych, but not true of all the different sub-disciplines.
It’s also not true that a PhD program HAS to take over your life as a PP suggested. Admittedly, the first year and a half or so, I did let it take over my life. But since being in the program, I have gotten married, bought a house, am now pregnant, have been teaching 2-3 classes a semester, seeing friends, used to play soccer recreationally, attend family functions, etc. Yes, it takes over your life more than some jobs, but doesn’t have to completely take it over….you find your balance.
In terms of funding, most psychology PhD programs are funded, at least for the first 4 years, sometimes beyond. This generally includes tuition remission and a stipend that you earn through being a teaching assistant or a research assistant. This is part of the program itself.
Also, many PhD programs aren’t focused on preparing you to be an educator, but instead focus more on research. However, if teaching is your focus, you can seek out that experience and preparation. (This is the boat I am in…hoping for a teaching-centric job myself and have done a lot of independently-driven work to get that experience.)
This is all probably pretty jumbled, but I hope its helpful. Good luck deciding!