Most people attend university so that they can secure a good job. For many people, the goal is to find a career path that suits them, makes them happy, and allows them to feel satisfied. For others, this is all about finding something that you enjoy. For others still, it all comes down to the size of your paycheck.
If you’re already in the workforce, a master’s degree can be just the boost your career needs to take it to the next level. With a master’s degree, you can often jump a pay grade or two. If you’re trying to break into the workforce for the first time, a master’s degree can give you the little bit of edge you need to secure the job of your dreams. Either way, this degree can be hugely beneficial.
With all of the varying advice out there, it can be difficult to make sense of your options when it comes to pursuing an advanced degree. To make things easier and to help you figure out your next steps, we’ve put together a handy guide to the best master’s degrees in terms of their financial payoff. For the business-minded out there, this is what we call a return on investment.
First, we look at some of the ways that a master’s degree can earn you a better salary and open up new career options. Next, we look at some of the master’s degrees that can result in the highest salaries. After that, we take a quick look at the average costs associated with getting a master’s degree. The cost of a master’s degree is a really important section for those who want to maximize their return on investment. Finally, we look at how to decide whether or not the master’s degree with the highest potential salary is right for you.
Overall, we hope to leave you with a better understanding of your career options, the value of a master’s degree, and the various factors involved in your decision making.
How A Master’s Degree Can Give You Better Salary And Career Options
It seems like more and more people are leaving their undergraduate degrees only to start another degree program. Some people are even saying that a master’s is the new bachelor’s.
Only a few years ago, people were claiming that a bachelor’s degree was the new high school diploma. But times change, and so does education.
You probably have a lot of questions. Questions like: So, what exactly is a master’s degree? What’s all the fuss about? Does a master’s degree earn you a higher salary? Do I need to complete a master’s degree to be valued as an employee?
Well, here’s a look at some of the finer details of a master’s degree to help you figure out the answers.
What makes a master’s degree a master’s degree?
A master’s degree is a graduate degree. It is one of the kinds of degrees that can follow immediately after a bachelor’s degree or an undergraduate degree.
A master’s degree indicates that the holder has specialized and expert knowledge of a particular field or topic. You can obtain a master’s degree in a wide range of academic fields. Some of the most common master’s degrees include:
- Master of Arts
- Master of Science
- Master of Fine Arts
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Philosophy
Someone who has a master’s degree is considered knowledgeable enough in a subject to teach it. It should be noted, though, that most professors at universities have Ph.D.’s, or doctorates, in addition to master’s degrees. If you are teaching with a master’s degree, you will likely be working as a member of the contract faculty or teaching at a community college.
A master’s degree deepens and expands your knowledge in your field of study. If someone undertakes a master’s degree in history, for example, they may take the broad knowledge that they obtained during their undergraduate degree as a starting point. Then, they will likely focus on a specific, niche area of history. The combination of higher education and a narrowed area of focus allows them to both specialize in a specific area and develop their overall understanding of the field of history. The same basic principle underlies other master’s programs.
Why is a master’s degree now required for careers that used to require only a bachelor’s?
In the current job climate, jobs that used to only require a bachelor’s degree now expect a master’s degree. In fact, according to some studies, about a third of the companies hiring employees are raising their education requirements. Many employers have now started to require their applicants to hold master’s degrees in a relevant field when they used to only require a bachelor’s degree.
A master’s degree used to be a much rarer qualification than it is now. If you plan to start a career in a particular field, you should look at the typical education requirements for jobs in that field. You may discover that it is necessary to go on to graduate school after your undergrad.
It is important to carefully review all of your education options when you are planning your post-graduation steps. Everyone’s career path looks different, and ensuring that your path is suited to what you want to do is vital to ending up where you want to be.
One of the reasons that master’s degrees are so sought after now is that an increased number of people now have bachelor’s degrees. Since so many people attend university and graduate with undergraduate degrees now, employers often require master’s degrees to whittle down the applicant pool.
You should also be aware that a master’s degree is not necessary for everyone. While a master’s degree often guarantees you a higher salary in some fields, it is also worth it because a master’s degree might leave you overqualified for some roles. Many people with master’s degrees find themselves turned down for some positions simply because the employer does not want to pay the extra money or because the employer wants someone less qualified. While this sounds a bit silly, it is, unfortunately, the case for many people.
To take a step back, this is not to say that you should not pursue a master’s degree, it’s just a little warning. Make sure to review your options before committing to any single path.
How can a master’s degree help you achieve a better salary and career options?
Master’s degrees often allow you to achieve a higher salary. They can also provide you with access to better career options.
Often, employers will pay people with master’s degrees higher salaries than those with bachelor’s degrees based on the understanding that you have invested in higher education and have a better ability to complete your job. For example, teachers tend to make about $250 more every week when they have a master’s degree.
Other positions have similar increases. For instance, someone with a master’s degree in Computer Science will make an average of almost $85,000 per year, while their colleagues with bachelor’s degrees will make about $69,000 per year. Based on the same calculation, someone with a master’s degree in nursing will make more than $20,000 per year more than someone with a bachelor’s degree in nursing on average.
Master’s degrees also allow you to qualify for promotions, apply for high ranking positions, and secure employment in specialized areas. For instance, many research positions at universities require their candidates to have master’s degrees. They will often not even consider those without them.
Master’s Degrees That Can Result In The Highest Paying Jobs
If you are interested in completing a master’s degree to start to earn a larger median annual salary, not just any degree will do. When it comes down to sheer earning power, not every masters degree. is equal. Some master’s degrees will give you a barely noticeable increase in median salary. Others will allow you to make six figures as a mid career salary.
What fields of work that require a master’s degree are currently in demand?
Not all master’s programs are equally employable. Some of the most employable master’s degrees include:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM)
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
An MBA is always employable. Many business people begin their career with a bachelor’s degree and then upgrade to an MBA later on to secure a promotion. Other people begin with an MBA and start at a higher rank in their company.
Likewise, nursing is a very employable career. Most places have a shortage of nurses, and there are many open job opportunities. In a short-staffed facility, most nurses are overworked. A nurse with a bachelor’s degree will have no problem finding employment. When you complete an MSN, though, you can expect an increase in salary and a guarantee of employment plus many opportunities for advancement, including roles as a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist, that aren’t available for nurses with only a bachelor’s degree.
Master’s Degrees that Can Result in the Highest-Paying Jobs
There are a lot of different ways to measure the value of a master’s degree. One of the common ways is to calculate the amount of money you can expect to make after graduating from a certain program. In terms of salary, some of the best master’s degrees include:
- Petroleum Engineering: $187,600
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists: $162,800
- Strategy: $114,040
- Entrepreneurship: $138,300
- Marketing Management: $135,300
- Economics (MBA): $131,800
- Computer Science: $129,900
- Marketing and International Business: $128,200
- Finance: $126,800
- Electrical Engineering: $124,700
The dollar amount following the job titles above is an average that is based on either the starting or mid-career salary of the career in question. Other lucrative careers that require bachelor’s degrees are physician assistant and occupational therapist. It’s also worth noting that any of these careers would provide an even higher salary with a doctorate degree.
Average Cost Of Getting A Master’s Degree
It is no secret that college costs a lot of money. When you are planning to take a degree for the sake of earning a high salary, one of your biggest concerns is probably the cost of the university itself. If the cost is too high, you won’t make a good return on investment.
Here’s a look at the average cost of getting a master’s degree.
What is the average cost of getting a master’s degree?
The tuition of an advanced degree program will depend on the school in question. In-state schools are far cheaper than out of state schools, generally speaking. The same can be said for public versus private institutions. On average, a master’s degree will cost you $30,000 to $40,000 in tuition to complete.
What sort of financial aid should you look into if you are interested in applying for a master’s degree?
Since master’s degrees are so expensive, you should look for financial aid options when considering a master’s degree. With financial aid, a master’s degree can be very affordable. Many people do not pay even a dime out of pocket after securing funding for their master’s degrees.
There are some different financial aid options open to graduate students. These options include:
- Student Loans: Student loans are one of the most common ways for people to fund their degrees. While they are a great option for some people, it is important to take out student loans with care. In the United States today, there is an immense student loan crisis. Over 70% of students graduate with student debt.
- Scholarships: Scholarships are probably the best way to fund your education. Scholarships are financial aid awards given to students based upon merit and excellence in a certain area. Scholarships are given out at the local, regional, state, and federal level. They are also given out by universities, private institutions, and donors. As there are so many scholarships available, you will likely qualify for at least one.
- Bursaries: Bursaries are financial aid grants provided to students based upon need, which means that they are awarded to students who need financial assistance, compared to their colleagues. These awards are intended to level the playing field and give all students an equal shot at higher education, regardless of their background or personal circumstances.
- Grants: Grants are simply financial awards provided to a student. They might come in the form of research grants, scholarships, bursaries, or otherwise. There are many grants available for different sectors, such as arts or music.
- Work: At the graduate level, it is often possible to pay for much of your degree by working. Many schools hire their graduate students to fill roles such as research assistants, teaching assistants, library staff, etc. These jobs can often come as part of a funding package and offset the cost of your degree.
If you are currently working and are returning to school to complete a master’s degree your current employer may have a program to help reimburse some of the costs of attending university. Many employers offer financial assistance for staff members returning to school for a relevant degree. Why? Because the employer stands to benefit from the continued education of their long term employees.
Before applying to a master’s program, it is a good idea to look at the financial aid options available to you. You can also learn more about these options by speaking with a financial aid officer at the school, an academic advisor, or a guidance counselor. It is also possible to find many scholarships and funding sources on government websites.
What are some affordable ways to secure a master’s degree?
Financial aid is not the only way to reduce the cost of your master’s degree.
One of the most affordable ways to secure a master’s degree is to attend an affordable online program. While online school tends to get a bad rap, it can be a very viable option. It also extends university access to many people who would otherwise be unable to attend, including people with work or family obligations, people with special accessibility requirements, people on tight schedules, and people who cannot relocate for school.
Online school can be cost-effective for many reasons. For one thing, having access to online programs means that you can survey different schools to find ones that offer lower tuition rates. As geography is no longer a boundary, you can easily seek out a more affordable program. Of course, the costs associated with a graduate degree are not just related to the cost of tuition. Though, most of the time, tuition is the largest single expense at a university, the total of extra fees and living costs often outweigh tuition greatly. Often, online schools do not have as many extra expenses, saving you a lot of money in the long run.
Some of the most affordable online master’s programs include:
- Western Governors University
- Valdosta State University
- Fort Hays State University
- Lamar University
- Louisiana State University, Shreveport
One of the reasons that online schools have cheaper costs is because they do not require extensive physical facilities. Keep in mind that when we refer to online programs, the schools themselves might have a physical campus, too. For example, many prestigious schools such as Harvard offer some programs online. However, online students are unlikely to make use of the physical campus. As a result, the overhead costs for online students may be cheaper. These students may also be able to opt-out of the facility and other campus-related fees.
Students can also reduce the cost of their master’s degree by seeking out a more affordable physical program. It is often much cheaper to attend a public university than it is to attend a private school. In-state universities also tend to offer some fairly large tuition reductions to students who are residents of the state.
How to Determine if the Highest-Paying Master’s Degree is Right for You
Just because a master’s degree in a particular field seems to guarantee a high paycheck doesn’t mean that it is the right degree for you. There are a lot of factors involved in selecting a school. It is important not to let the desire for wealth overpower the rest.
Here are some handy tips for deciding on a master’s program.
How can you determine that a career field is right for you?
Deciding on a career path is not easy for anyone. For most people, it is pretty intimidating. The good news is that, nowadays, it is not always necessary to pick a path and then stick to it. Many people switch careers after a few years. Others switch careers shortly before retirement.
That said, it is easier to decide whether or not a career is right for you before entering it than it is to switch careers entirely. One of the best ways to decide whether or not a career is right for you is to simply think about whether you would find it enjoyable and rewarding to work in that career day in and day out.
It can help to take some career assessment tests while you try to figure out the right career. These tests take a look at your strengths, weaknesses, passions, and interests. They then use analytical software to match you up with different careers. These careers are intended to serve as a guide or example more than a definitive choice.
It can also be useful to learn a little bit more about yourself. If you are having a lot of difficulties deciding on a career path, it may be worth attempting to find out more about who you are, where your strengths lie, and what you like to do.
Finally, one of the best ways to figure out if a career is right for you is to speak with people who work in the field. Often, people who work in the career you’re considering can tell you a lot about the field that you would not otherwise know. This approach is a particularly great option if you are looking into master’s programs. At universities, you often have access to a wide range of professionals. These are people who have work and educational experience in the fields that you are interested in. Don’t let these resources go unused.
How can you tell if a master’s degree program is right for you?
The best way to tell if a master’s degree is right for you is to look at the course offerings and the structure of the program. Many universities allow prospective students to see lists of current and historical course offerings. Many of these schools even allow students to browse course catalogs, look at curriculums and reading lists, and look through the archive of research completed by former students and faculty members.
The right school for you depends on your approach to education, your interests, your strengths and weaknesses, and your learning style. To decide if a school or a program is right for you, you should take a moment to think about what you want to get out of your degree. Then, compare this to the nature of the program you are looking at. Sometimes, you can reach out to faculty members or graduate coordinators to discuss the program in question.
Another great way to get a sense of a school and program is to attend an open house. Graduate programs often offer open houses to applicants or people considering applying to the program. These tend to occur a semester or two before the entrance. At these events, you can often sit in on courses, meet faculty and students, and explore the campus.
What else should you consider when thinking about your future income, and how should your happiness factor into that decision?
While society seems to put a huge amount of weight on average salary, it is not the only thing to consider when looking at your education options. For many people, education is not about a paycheck. Instead, people pursue master’s degrees in areas that interest them simply for the sake of better knowledge, personal fulfillment, and higher education. For example, people who study social work don’t usually go into the field because of the median salary. They do it because. They want to be a social worker and help people.
Even when it comes to jobs, the importance of fulfillment and purpose cannot be overlooked. Far too often, people overlook the importance of being happy, feeling satisfied in your work, and having a sense of purpose. Though a hefty paycheck is nice, it is nothing compared to a happy life. If you are not going to be happy working the kind of jobs you can get with an MBA, then you should not pursue an MBA. Likewise, if you won’t be happy working in your current role long term, it might be worth planning to move up by completing a master’s degree.
There is no replacement for happiness in life. Sometimes, a master’s degree is the solution and can take you to a place that makes you happy. But that’s not always the case. Whether a master’s program is an appropriate path for you is something only you can decide.
Hopefully, you now have a stronger and more developed understanding of the benefit of a master’s degree when it comes to salary. While a master’s degree is not for everyone, some people benefit hugely from them. Some of the most employable degrees include those in nursing and business. Some of the highest paying degrees also include those in nursing and business or business-related fields.