Will a Master’s Degree Help Advance Your Career?

As seen on Forbes.

A master’s degree can be a badge of honor for some and a big sunk cost for others. While it’s always a good idea to invest in yourself and pursue the things that excite you, the vehicle in which you do it and its investment should be considered before deep diving in.

The big question for getting a master’s degree… IS IT WORTH IT? If you’ve been eyeing a new career pivot and considering a master’s, let’s explore the pros and cons of getting the degree and if it really is the right next step for you and your career.

The Pros

Let’s start off with the positives and the potential pros that come out of getting another degree. As I’ve said, it’s generally a good idea to pursue things that interest you. And if getting a master’s degree in a subject you’re passionate about is going to make you happy, then pursuing it should be a no-brainer! Having a master’s degree as a job search candidate can also help you stand out for certain roles & industries.

Better knowledge of the field

One of the best reasons to get a master’s is to go deeper into a subject through a structured curriculum. If you have a Bachelor’s in the same field and don’t feel it gave you enough of a foundation to pursue a career, then getting a master’s would make sense here. 

While not all career paths need master’s degrees to be successful, some industries, including Business, Healthcare, IT, Education, and the Public Sector, may offer more opportunities to candidates who have dual degrees. With added knowledge, you’ll be able to solve problems and lead better at work if it requires so.

Opportunity for higher salaries

If you treat your master’s degree as an investment, it can pay off in a big way in your future salary and earning potential. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the master’s degree that had the biggest impact on salary includes Biology, Communication Disorders Science, Business Administration, Education Administration, and Communication Studies.

In addition to higher salaries, candidates with advanced degrees may also get the advantage (and confidence) to negotiate for more benefits, vacation days, and other factors that increase their total compensation. The cost of getting your master’s degree may be recouped in just a matter of years, depending on the type of role you get afterward.

Job stability and advancement potential

According to a Graduate Outcomes survey, candidates with a master’s degree have a higher chance of landing a professional role after graduation. This means that they are more likely to end up in a job where they have more responsibility, better skills, and more knowledge.

It’s important to also think about the specific careers you’re interested in. Some roles, such as occupational therapy, nurse practitioner, and economist, require advanced degrees to break in. If you’re someone who wants to aim for bigger opportunities in your industry, going back to school should be something you consider adding to your goals list.

The Cons

With all that said, a master’s degree is not for everyone. People have different priorities and circumstances that may not make it a priority. There are costs that can be heavy for those who are still starting out in their career, and also can be a big time investment! Read on before you commit.

The costs and expenses

How much does it really cost to get a master’s degree? This helpful guide tells us that the average cost could be pegged at around $40,000, but it’s best to dig deeper with your research once you’ve decided on a specific program. It’s a big decision! And as a guiding principle, always ask yourself: “Does this align with my career goals?”

If spending your own money feels too daunting, don’t worry! There are options out there to help cover the cost of your degree. Look into student loans, scholarships, and grants that match your qualifications. While they may not cover everything, they can make a big dent in the overall cost.

The time needed to finish

In addition to costs, it can also take a lot of time. Well, it actually depends on the program you choose, but most master’s degrees take about two years if you go to school full-time. Keep in mind, though, if you need to take some prerequisite courses before starting your program, it might take longer.

There are other options out there as well. Part-time master’s may take you longer, but it gives you the wiggle room for you to take on a job and other pursuits at the same time.

It may not make that much of a difference

Sometimes, the answer to your career is not more education, it’s you knowing your story and how to highlight the skills you already have. Depending on your field, and your career goals, there can be other ways to shine light on your best qualities even without a master’s.

You can start by sitting down and thinking hard about where you excel, and what you want to improve on. Getting a master’s degree isn’t the only way to upskill. There are online courses and certifications that you can take in the short term to level up your skills. After all, there are people who learn better by doing. If you’re that type, taking more challenging roles might be better for you!

Take note of your goals before you commit

So, is it worth it? Maybe the right question to first ask is if it will help you reach your goals and the career path you’re set on. If it does and the investment makes sense for you, then it would be a good idea to pursue it. If not, then consider other options to reach your goals. Ultimately, it’s your career, and you get to decide what you pursue and do with it. Rooting for you!

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