We’ve all heard the horror stories of people with Ph.D. degrees who, because they can’t get a job in their field, are working as baristas and grocery store baggers. While it’s true that some advanced degrees don’t guarantee a bump in career opportunities and employability, there are some career paths where an advanced degree provides an almost guaranteed reward in terms of payout and job prospects. If you’re wondering what sort of advanced degree you should look at pursuing, here are six careers where getting a graduate degree is most likely to pay-off.
The field of nursing has a remarkably secure career outlook, and while you only technically need an associate’s degree to be a nurse, getting your Master of Science in Nursing will improve your prospects and your pay. Especially as more and more studies show a connection between nurses’ education and patient outcomes, having well-educated and highly competent nurses in care facilities and hospitals is becoming more and more of a priority. So, if you were wondering whether an advanced nursing degree would make sense for you in the ling-run, the answer is simple: Yes.
2. Software Developer
For a software developer who wants a solid job and isn’t interested in working as a freelancer or going the startup route, an advanced degree does a lot more than just make you a more competitive applicant in the current job market. According to CareerBliss, software developers with a bachelor’s degree can expect to make just under $80,000 a year. With a master’s degree, however, that salary jumps to over $95,000. While your title would most likely be the same regardless of your level of schooling, making $15,000 more a year amounts to quite a bit over the course of a career.
While there are plenty of ways to go into finance and make a killing without getting a master’s degree, if you’re a financial advisor, a master’s degree is a big helps. On average, a financial adviser with an undergraduate degree makes over $62,000 a year. With a master’s degree, however, a financial advisor’s worth jumps considerably. Financial advisors with the advanced degree can expect to make roughly $15,000 more a year, which means grad school is probably well worth the investment.
Community health and addiction counselors are important members of any community, and many people perform these jobs admirably well with just an associate’s or undergraduate degree. However, if, as a counselor, you’re interested in expanding your knowledge base and making more money, you needn’t shy away from a master’s degree, Ph.D., or MD. Psychiatrists and psychologists are well-compensated, and the demand for their services continues to be sound. An advanced degree in this field is almost always a good career move.
To truly participate in the world of architecture, a master’s degree is required — as is an often-lengthy and thankless apprenticeship or internship. For anyone who loves the idea of designing and building structures, however, the necessary advanced degree and extra time put in is worth it. The payoff can also be substantial, although the range of pay among architects is a little surreal.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, architects make anywhere from $44,000 a year to just under $120,000. While overall it seems true that an advanced degree is a good move for the budding architect — especially since it’s required — you might also consider the fact that your pay seems very connected to both where you work and how good you are at your job.
Since you can’t even practice law without a law degree and a win at the bar exam, getting an advanced degree seems like a requirement. However, there are plenty of legal jobs for people with four-year degrees out there, but overall, they can’t hold a candle to being a lawyer. Paralegals and legal assistants routinely make as much as $50,000 a year, but getting that JD and passing the bar elevates your earning potential to well over $100,000. Yes, law school might be hard and expensive, but what you stand to reap on the other side of it is substantial.
So, get that master’s degree or other advanced degree you’ve always wanted. Just be sure you’re getting it in a field or industry where having it will benefit you, not just create one more line item in your budget each week.