Is a Master’s Degree Worth it?
Earning a master’s degree is almost always worth it!
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), professionals with only a bachelor’s degree earn $1248 per week, while those with a master’s degree earn $1497 per week. That’s an increase of $249 per week, which means you could be earning almost $13k more each year!
Wage premium data for professions such as Web Developers, Biological Scientists, Editors, Mathematicians, Public Relations Specialists, Pilots, Designers, etc. clearly show the increase in earnings for those with an advanced degree.
There are, however, a few professions in which earning a master’s will not have much of a financial payoff. For example, Petroleum Engineers, Mining and Geological Engineers, and Chemical Engineers will not see an increase in earnings (and may even see a decrease) after earning a master’s degree.
Check the BLS for data about how a master’s degree will affect your earning potential.
If earning more money is your goal and an advanced degree won’t help you achieve that, you can instead look for a master’s program that will help you transition into a higher paying field with more opportunities for continued growth and advancement.
Why Get an Online Graduate Degree?
As you think about whether earning a master’s degree is worth it, you will have to answer tough questions about “why” it is a good idea for you and your future.
After all, this is a big commitment. It should be about more than simply upgrading your title or having a prestigious diploma to hang in your office.
Here are some of the common reasons why people pursue online graduate degrees:
1. Increased earning potential
As mentioned above, in most professions, a graduate-level degree can help you earn quite a bit more money. The BLS data indicates that someone with a master’s could earn around $13k more per year than someone with just a bachelor’s degree.
The increase in earning potential is true in nearly all professions.
2. Improve Job Prospects
A graduate degree can open many doors, professionally, helping you take on new roles or move into new positions. The BLS reports that employment in master’s-level occupations is projected to grow by almost 17% from 2016 to 2026, which is the fastest of any education level.
More and more employers are seeking professionals with graduate-level education to fill the most important positions in the company.
3. Allow for a career change
After many years in a career field, some people start to feel stuck in a rut. You may long for a career that is more personally rewarding, provides long-term stability and/or has more opportunities for growth.
Oftentimes schools will allow you to pursue a graduate degree in any field, whether your bachelor’s degree is related or not. So you can use this opportunity to make a major life change and get started in a whole new field!
4. Keep skills current and relevant
If your undergraduate degree was not earned in the last few years if you have taken on new roles in your profession, or if your field is rapidly changing, pursuing a graduate degree is a good way to ensure that your skills are up-to-date and relevant to your position.
An online graduate program can help you develop your skills in areas like:
- Critical thinking
- Managing others
Developing these skills will enable you to take on new responsibilities or move into a new position.
A graduate program can also train you on new developments in your field – advancements in medicine, policy changes in education, new strategies for social workers, developments in technology, and so on. Keeping apprised of changes within your field is very important. Employers are always looking for professionals who can help their company stay ahead of the curve!
5. Increase credibility
A graduate-level degree is not just an investment of time and money, but of effort, too. Completing the program and earning your degree means you have gone above and beyond to learn about your field, and have demonstrated a mastery of a certain subject matter and skill set.
To employers and colleagues, your degree will serve as proof that you are a qualified expert in your field.
6. Meet requirements of profession or advanced academic program
In some fields, a graduate-level degree is required even for entry-level positions.
For example, you will need a master’s degree just to get started in the following professions:
- Marriage and Family Therapist
- School or Career Counselor
- Mathematician / Statistician
- Nurse Practioner
- Education Administrator
These fields may also require some additional certification or licensure.
And for those professions requiring a doctoral or professional degree – such as a Judge, Lawyer, Astronomer, Physicist, Physician, Surgeon, Dentist, etc. – a master’s degree may be a required stepping stone to move on to your next level of education.
What are the goals of an online graduate degree?
The goal of any graduate degree is to develop advanced skills in your field that will allow you to meet professional goals or continue your educational journey.
This may mean developing soft skills in areas like communication or management. Or, it may mean developing hard skills, such as understanding new advancements or technologies used in your field. Either way, earning an online graduate degree will make you a more valuable and versatile employee.
The goal of an online graduate degree, in particular, is to obtain that advanced education and training without having to put your life – your family, your career, etc. – on hold. An online education can work around your existing commitments and allow you to work on furthering your education at a pace that works with your current lifestyle.