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Amid the rising education costs and excessive student loans, you may wonder if grad school is worth it. Getting your bachelor’s degree takes long enough, and the relief of finally graduating gets a bit dampened by knowing you have another several years before you can get out into the workforce. However, graduate school opportunities give you many more avenues to get where you want to be and thrive there. So, is going to grad school worth it?
The answer to that question will vary from person to person, and also from degree type to degree type. Some people may require it, others may get a pay bump from a master’s, and some may not need more schooling at all. Take a look at what graduate school can do for you to determine if obtaining another degree is right for your career.
Which Careers Need a Master’s Degree?
While going to graduate school is optional for various career paths, particular fields require applicants to obtain another degree to work there. Here are just a few jobs you’ll need a master’s degree for:
- Occupational health and safety officer
- Social worker
- Nurse practitioner
- Case manager
- Counselors and therapists of various kinds
- Various engineers
If you plan on being a teacher, you’ll also need to look into the requirements by state. For example, Massachusetts requires you to get a master’s degree and pass several state tests. Before applying to grad schools, research if your optimal career path will require you to get another degree.
The Benefits of Graduate School Opportunites
What can a master’s degree do for you if your job of choice doesn’t require you to get one? The results will differ for every position, but here is a general idea of what you can expect from graduate school opportunities.
1. Earn More Money
The most common reason for going to grad school is earning a master’s degree can help you get paid more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, someone with a bachelor’s degree earns about $1,300 a week or just under $68,000 a year before taxes. However, a master’s degree bumps that weekly pay up to nearly $1,600 a week — over $80,000 a year. While that extra $300 doesn’t seem like a lot, it adds up.
One reason for this bump is going to grad school often prepares you for higher-up roles than a bachelor’s. Therefore, you already qualify for a job the business or lab you’re applying to might have passed on you for, even if you already worked there. Additionally, that place may need someone with more experience and be willing to up your pay to entice you to join their team. Either way, having a master’s degree can make you more valuable.
2. Potential Easier Time Finding a Job
Because you’ve learned so many things through your graduate school opportunities, hiring teams will likely be more interested in you. You’ll have a lot more experience in the field and potentially have knowledge of niches the company has a great interest in. Depending on where you’re trying to get a job, you might have an easier job search than many.
As of 2021, the unemployment rate for people with master’s degrees was at 2.6%. However, the rate for a bachelor’s degree was 3.5%. Going to grad school will help you earn more money in some cases and could help you find a job a lot faster than if you only held a bachelor’s. This can be the case because you’ll have more networking opportunities via internships, events and other professionals you work alongside.
3. Career Flexibility
Despite sounding so official, grad schools are typically willing to accept students with a different background than the track they’re applying for. Perhaps you decided you’d prefer to work in another industry or found a passion you’d like to pursue but need a degree for. Even though it seems like you wouldn’t be able to go to grad school for a subject you didn’t get your bachelor’s degree in, you can as long as you meet the necessary prerequisites.
For example, a grad school where you would receive a Master of Business Administration will likely consider your motivation and future plans regardless of if you previously went to business school. A degree like a Master of Strategic Communications and Public Relations might have the same outlook. However, degree tracks in the engineering or medical field will likely have more requirements than other courses. It all depends on what you want to switch to and which school you’re looking at.
When a Master’s Degree May Not Be Essential
With all that said, grad school is not entirely necessary. It’s also not a guarantee you’ll get a well-paying job.
If your career path doesn’t need you to get a master’s degree, it’s up to you to decide if you want to go for it. You may want to go for your master’s because you love learning or want to explore further education in your field. Each of those thoughts is entirely valid — as long as you can afford the schooling and have the drive to complete it.
On average, a master’s degree costs over $30,000 per year and many programs last two years. Financial aid is definitely available, but if you’ve already incurred a fair amount of debt from your bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider holding off on graduate school opportunities. You’ll always be able to get that degree when you have some more financial freedom.
Additionally, master’s programs can take a while to complete since you’ll likely be working while attending school. Many offer the opportunity to be a part-time student so you can have a part- or full-time job, but that means it will take longer to finish grad school. If you’re considering going for your master’s but need to work as you learn, carefully consider all your options.
Graduate School Opportunities Are Endless
Once you get your master’s degree, there is a world of possibilities out there for you. While experiencing all the graduate school opportunities won’t guarantee you a job right after graduation, it can certainly be an asset. Take the time to figure out all your options before committing to another few years of school.