Is a Master’s the Right Move for Your Career

Even if you hold a 4-year college degree, you might find yourself facing stiff competition when you try to enter the workforce. More and more businesses are requiring master’s degrees for roles that have been traditionally held by those with undergraduate degrees.

Master’s degrees require a high amount of time, effort, and financing but can lead to better career opportunities than an undergraduate degree can. It can be difficult deciding whether or not pursuing a master’s degree is the right choice for you and your career, but with the right knowledge, the decision can be made much easier.

How A Master’s Degree Helps

A master’s degree can open many career doors for you that an undergraduate degree simply can’t. If you’re looking to take control of your career, one of the best ways to do so is by heading back to school to further develop your skills.

Even if you’re well into your career, there is always time to go back and obtain further higher education which could potentially set you on the path for a much more lucrative career down the road.

One of the major reasons that a master’s degree can be so attractive to the modern worker looking to expand their career horizon comes down to a simple case of supply and demand. Today’s workforce is incredibly well-educated, and while this would seem to be a positive overall, the abundance of workers with bachelor’s degrees is outpacing the number of available skilled jobs.

For many, avoiding being underemployed is a big enough issue that they are willing to head back to school in order to obtain a graduate degree that would make them in higher demand than your average degree-holding job candidate.

Heading back to school for a master’s degree can help you better understand how to be a successful entrepreneur. A recent review of industry data showed that nearly one-quarter of graduates holding a Master’s in Business Administration degree start their own business within three years of graduation.

Some of the highest paying professions require a relevant master’s degree and while it is certainly possible to move up the corporate ladder to find yourself in a well-paid position without a master’s degree, certain jobs just aren’t available to those without one.

Understanding The Expense

If financial gain is one of the main things that drives you when it comes to your career, obtaining a master’s degree can be a very attractive prospect. However, it is important to understand just how entering into a graduate program will affect not only your future financial prospects but also how it will affect your current financial situation.

If you’re already contending with student loan debt or a mortgage, factoring in how much a master’s degree might realistically cost might be the deciding factor in your decision to further pursue higher education or not.

Master’s programs aren’t exactly inexpensive. The average cost of a graduate degree from a run of the mill public or private accredited college begins at around $30k to $40k, while more prestigious institutions costs can hover at around $100k.

There are many factors that drive cost when it comes to graduate programs, with STEM graduate programs often costing significantly more, as well as miscellaneous fees like library fees, parking costs, lab fees, and various other student services.

While these smaller fees might not seem like too much at first glance, they can quickly add up and significantly increase the overall actual cost of a graduate degree.

However, you have to also consider future earning potential and not just the initial investment when it comes to obtaining a graduate degree. Earning potential with a graduate degree is undoubtedly increased over an undergraduate degree with most fields earning $10k to $20k more per year, on average.

Over a 40 year career, those who hold master’s degrees earn on average around $400,000 more than people with a bachelor’s degree. Earning potential versus the initial cost can obviously affect how you make your decision regarding going back to university to pursue a master’s degree and it is important that you understand how it will impact your financial well-being.

Even If You Can Find Financing, Is It Worth It?

When applying for graduate school, getting the financial situation sorted can be an ordeal. Ideally, you’ll pursue scholarships, fellowships, grants, and assistantship positions to help offset the costs of graduate school as these are ways to pay for your graduate degree that have no strings attached and do not require you to pay anything back.

However, it is important to note that these supplemental financial options will require that you spend significantly more time working within your graduate program which will affect your ability to maintain relationships outside of your education experience.

For many, obtaining a sensible loan that you’ve done the math for and can confidently pay off is the more sensible option if you have relationship responsibilities in your life that cannot be compromised.

For instance, if someone is taking care of their elderly parents or have young children at home and no one to assist them, devoting that much time to pursuing a master’s degree might not be feasible, especially if they get into an assistantship position that requires them to spend even more time working within the graduate program.

Being able to spend time with friends and family is important, and going back to college or university to get a master’s degree will significantly cut into your ability to make time for the ones you love.

However, everyone’s situation is different and if you weigh out all the possibilities and find that going back to school for your master’s degree has benefits that outweigh the negative aspects, there is nothing stopping you from achieving your goals.