Should I Get A Master’s Degree?
Since the 2000s, master’s degrees have been steadily jumping in popularity to combat competition in the job market, and with good reason—they tend to increase an individual’s chance of getting hired as more employers look for applicants with high educations and skill sets. In fact, according to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in master’s-level occupations is projected to grow 17% from 2016 to 2026, which is the fastest of any education level.
Some employers and fields require entry-level applicants to have the degree and are paying well for it. According to a 2016 article by Fast Company, almost one-third of employers require higher levels of education for their applicants, revealing their desires to minimize the playing field and snag employees with the college credential becoming increasingly pertinent and proven to increase employees’ productivity and quality. As a result, those with master’s degrees are less likely to see unemployment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Worth The Investment
While master’s degrees are becoming more common, it’s important to consider your professional industry upon deciding whether or not earning your master’s degree is worth the return on investment. The BLS, in a 2015 report, stated that the fields in which workers often earn more with a master’s degree include business, healthcare, STEM and information technology.
Employees in the business, financial and sales fields hold more master’s degrees than any other field and generally provide the highest wage premiums, averaging at 34% higher than those without master’s degrees, according to a Georgetown University publication. Master’s degrees are also usually required for higher-level jobs
As healthcare continues to expand due to a growing aging population and chronic conditions, the healthcare industry provides some of the most stable and secure positions available. Furthermore, they receive higher wage premiums; for example, physicians with master’s degrees receive a 44% increase in their wages than those with bachelor’s degrees. As competition in the field grows, it’s important to note that several bachelor degree programs are planning on phasing out their programs that prepare employees for the field as it increasingly demands the higher education and skills of master’s degrees.
The STEM field is where wage premiums begin to vary more significantly. Employees in math-related positions saw 33% higher wages than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees; however, employees in engineering fields cannot always count on a master’s degree to provide a higher income. Though civil, mechanical and architectural engineers saw relative increases with a master’s degree, those in the petroleum, mining and geological spheres actually received less than lower-educated colleagues.
As this field becomes more stable and ever competitive, more people are entering the field finding that a master’s degree may be their edge over the competition. IT may see numbers like those in the healthcare industry as employees require higher education and a more specialized skill set to keep up with the demand and growth of the industry.
More Than Money
Since the payoff varies with the occupation, it’s not an absolute that those with master’s degrees will earn more than those with bachelor degrees; however, that doesn’t mean that a master’s degree is a waste of time and money. Aside from the actual job, most graduates attend master’s programs simply for the individual development that comes with it: the commitment to learning and knowledge is something everyone can benefit from.