Master’s Degree Jobs: Should I Get an Advanced Degree?
In today’s job market, you might be considering an advanced degree to stand out from the competition. You might also be wondering if pursuing master’s degree jobs is the best move for your career.
With any major career adjustment, you need to weigh the pros and cons and give careful thought regarding the next steps for your path. This article answers some frequently asked questions about advanced degrees, with insights into when an advanced degree can help your career and cases where it might not be necessary.
What is an Advanced Degree? Is a Bachelor's Degree an Advanced Degree?
An advanced degree is a postgraduate degree, typically a master’s degree or doctorate. An associate degree and a bachelor’s degree are not considered advanced degrees.
What is the Average Salary With a Master's Degree?
For many jobs, having a master’s degree pays more than having a bachelor’s degree. Those with a master’s degree earned an average of $80,200 annually compared to those with a bachelor’s degree who earned an average of $65,400 in 2019. That’s more than a $15,000 difference.
When Might it Not be Necessary to Have a Master's Degree?
If you’re applying to “new collar” jobs, a master’s degree might not be necessary for you to land a job or be promoted. For certain jobs in today’s market, employers give more consideration to necessary skills over formal education. New collar jobs are generally technical in nature and can easily bring in $50,000 and upward annually. Examples include:
- Computer programmer
- Database administrator
- Dental hygienist
- Information security analyst
- Ultrasound technician
Many employers are looking for a combination of work experience and education. The most important thing is your ability to deliver and perform the job, which is proven more based on your workplace experience rather than your education. Therefore, some employers consider your education a complement to, and not a replacement for, professional work experience. The job description will give you a good idea as to what the employer emphasizes most and requires for the position.
When Might Master's Degree Jobs Not be the Right Choice?
When those with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree receive the same level of pay for a position, then putting in the effort to pursue a master’s degree might not make sense. Also, pursuing a master’s degree takes a lot of effort, time, and financial investment.
Advanced degrees can easily cost over $50,000, and many people secure student loans to pay for them. If you’re not comfortable taking on potential debt or you don’t believe the return on investment will be worth it, there’s a good chance it won’t be worth the resources to make it happen.
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When Does Pursuing an Advanced Degree Make Sense?
If you’re interested in pursuing a career path such as an occupational therapist, counselor, or education administrator, you’ll need to secure a master’s degree or doctorate. Also, if the primary way to advance and move into senior-level positions at your company is with a master’s degree, then it might make sense to pursue it. An advanced degree might be worth it if your research suggests it will increase your competitive edge and ability to earn more in the market as well.
When your employer offers to pay for an advanced degree or has a tuition reimbursement program, it could be the perfect opportunity. However, these types of agreements often come with a commitment from you to remain employed for a certain timeframe after completing the degree, so be sure to carefully review your company’s policy to ensure you’re comfortable with the arrangement.
What Are Some Careers That Require a Master's Degree?
Larger organizations sometimes require a master’s degree for certain positions (human resource specialist and generalist positions, for example) where smaller organizations might not. There are also several jobs that require a master’s degree for entry into the field or position. Examples include:
- Clinical Psychologist
- College Professor
- Education Administrator
- Family Therapist
- Financial Manager
- Nurse Practitioner
- Occupational Therapist
- Physical Therapist
- Physician’s Assistant
- Public Health Consultant
What Are Other Ways I Can Acquire New Skills and Knowledge?
There are other options to advance in your field and acquire a stronger skill set without returning to college or investing a hefty amount of money or time to do so. You might opt for:
Master's Degree Jobs Might be Worth It
After careful consideration, if you decide pursuing master’s degree jobs is in your best interest, then go for it! If you decide now’s not the time, you can always reconsider your options down the road.
For more advice on pursuing master’s-level jobs and similar guidance, visit our Job Seeker Resource Center.
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