Should I Go Back For a Master’s? Deciding Whether or Not to Earn Your Master’s Midcareer

Eden Priela was working as a corrections officer at her local sheriff’s department when she realized she wanted to move her career in a different direction. While she was able to gain skills in information technology by doing web design on a volunteer basis, she realized that she needed to grow her knowledge, skills and credentials to pursue a career in her desired field.

So, she decided to earn her Master’s in Information Technology from Florida Tech. The Class of 2012 graduate was able to parlay her education and experience into a career in cybersecurity, which took off less than six months after graduation:

“I can say that I am now where I want to be in my professional career as a cybersecurity consultant for one of the Big 4. I’ve never dreamed of doing what I love and getting paid way more than I could have imagined. I couldn’t have done it without you, Florida Tech. I am forever grateful.”

Like Priela, many midcareer professionals decide to go back to school for career advancement, career change, greater salary potential, or a combination of the three. If you are considering earning your master’s degree, here are some guidelines.

Have Clear Goals

Before you decide to go back to school, it’s necessary to have clear reasons and goals for advancing your education. For example, wanting to put off making a decision about your career is not a good reason. Instead, think about how this master’s degree will impact your career. Will it help you change career paths, or assist in getting that promotion? Do you want specialized knowledge in a specific topic to grow professionally?

For example, Lyncoya Moore chose to pursue her Master’s in Organizational Leadership for knowledge growth and career advancement:

“I am now the Director of Sales at my current organization and I hope to be able to move into another leadership role… I feel that my degree will help me advance in my field or step into new doors by preparing me for the challenges ahead.”

Whatever your goals are, evaluating the contributing factors and coming to a measured decision is critical, as a master’s degree is a significant time commitment.

Be Prepared to Be Busy

Speaking of the time commitment, if you are considering a master’s as a midcareer professional, be prepared to be busy. While earning your master’s degree online can help you continue to earn money while advancing your education, you will have to be able to balance school, work and life, which may mean saying no to things and prioritizing your obligations.

Do you have the time in your life to dedicate several hours per week to studying, homework assignments and papers? Can you make the time? Often it comes down to time management and finding when you have pockets of availability to get things done. Even with a full-time job and being a single mom, Amanda Knittweiss was able to earn her MBA in Project Management by strategic scheduling and refusing to give up.

Consider the ROI

Depending on the field in which you work or the career path you want to get into, earning a master’s degree can have a different return on investment. When evaluating the ROI for your chosen program, you can look at the career outcomes you think you will anticipate after finishing your degree, research the potential salary of the career path at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, and determine whether or not you will be working long enough to see a positive return on investment. While this isn’t an exact science, as earning a degree doesn’t automatically guarantee a certain job or salary, it is a way to gauge the potential ROI.

Seek Employer Support

One way to mitigate the cost of your degree is to seek support from your employer. Many employers offer tuition assistance and tuition reimbursement programs so that employees can continue to grow their knowledge and skills as well as in their roles within the company. For tips on how to get your boss to support your education, click here.

Beyond having your employer’s monetary support, you should discuss your academic journey with your boss to make sure you have his or her backing as well. Sharing your educational aspirations with your employer can lead to them becoming a member of your support system, which will be imperative down the road when you are earning your master’s. Letting your boss know that you are growing yourself through education can also let them know that you are eyeing opportunities and advancement.

As Doug Martin, a Florida Tech grad who earned his MBA in Project Management while working at JP Morgan & Chase, states:

“If your current employer is sponsoring you for your MBA with a tuition assistance program, make sure you get your manager’s support and some flexibility to work on assignments and study for exams during work hours. They have a vested interest in your success as well!”

Consider the Personal Rewards

While many are hoping a master’s degree can open doors to new opportunities or lead to a promotion, the reality is that even if these goals aren’t immediately accomplished at graduation, you will still have a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge you have gained.

Having a master’s degree often means that you have specialized expertise in a particular topic that can set you apart from others in your field, whether your degree is in Healthcare Management or Cybersecurity. An advanced degree can provide the confidence to make decisions and establish yourself as a leader in your organization.

This is what Robyn Powell experienced in earning her Master’s in Information Technology. After primarily learning on-the-job, she decided to earn her master’s to have “a better foundation of knowledge as it relates to IT.”

“Now that I’ve completed my MSIT studies, I know that I have the knowledge and confidence to make the right business decisions… Florida Tech’s curriculum has helped me develop and improve information systems within my organization.”

In addition to the advanced knowledge a master’s degree provides, graduates often say that they also gain a sense of accomplishment and confidence from the time management, organization and determination needed to graduate with a master’s degree. Jody Thrash, MBA in Project Management grad, says:

“The challenge of being organized – learning to manage my personal time between my student schedule, work and kids – really paid off for me. I have continued to build on that organization in all aspects of my life and career. I think being a successful student and accomplishing my goals by attaining my degree provided an extra boost in my confidence. It was also a great mental exercise for me as a professional. More than anything, I carry that confidence with me now, and suspect I always will.”

Are You Ready to Earn Your Master’s Degree?

Is earning a master’s degree in line with your professional goals? If so, explore Florida Tech’s master’s degrees here. Or, get more information by filling out the form.

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