Want to differentiate yourself in today’s increasingly competitive job market? Then consider going to graduate school.
According to the Federal Reserve, earning an advanced degree offers a substantial payoff, with graduate degree holders earning 30 percent more than those with only a bachelor’s degree.
Interest in graduate programs has been steadily increasing over the past several years, largely due to the changing needs of employers and the desire for professionals who continually upskill themselves.
From developing new skills and growing your network to potentially increasing your earnings, let’s take a closer look at why you should go to graduate school.
Developing New Skills
By obtaining your master’s degree, you develop transferable skills that apply to various jobs, organizations, and industries, such as:
- Analytical Skills: Analytical skills consist of gathering research, analyzing data, deciphering new information, and finding unique approaches to solving complex problems
- Interpersonal Skills: This includes leadership skills, working with people of different personalities and backgrounds, accepting constructive criticism, building consensus within teams, actively listening, and working independently
- Organizational Skills: Organizational skills include project management, event planning, time management, delegating assignments, and multi-tasking
- Communication Skills: Examples include motivating teammates, being a concise writer, empathizing with others, public speaking, and non-verbal communication, such as body language, eye contact, and hand gestures
These transferable skills can help you become a versatile employee and make you more valuable to hiring managers and recruiters.
A graduate degree can help you move into more senior roles, including management and leadership. Many companies not only recognize the benefits of earning your master’s degree, but even prefer their employees to have one. In fact, 38 percent of employers have raised their educational requirements.
In particular fields, earning an advanced degree can also offer important training and the best path for career advancement. For example, within education, teachers can increase their median earnings by receiving an advanced degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, here’s how average earnings break down by degree:
- Teachers with bachelor’s degrees: $47,060
- Teachers with master’s degrees: $58,460
- Education specialists (includes master’s degrees and certificates): $62,410
- Teachers with PhDs: $65,560
With an advanced degree, you can more easily gain specialized knowledge in your industry. As the workforce evolves, earning a master’s degree demonstrates you’re committed to gaining industry expertise and credibility.
You can do this by concentrating on a particular field of study, which helps you become more competitive within your industry. Going to graduate school can also help you build upon your current skill set or switch industries. There are numerous graduate programs you can apply to, from homeland security to graphic design.
You can significantly increase your income by earning an advanced degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, examples of industries that offer higher salaries for those with a master’s are:
- Information Security Analysts: $85,000 versus $100,000—an 18 percent increase
- Medical and Health Services Managers: $70,000 versus $90,000—a 29 percent increase
- Marketing and Sales Managers: $80,000 versus $110,000—a 38 percent increase
- Financial Managers: $90,000 versus $170,000—an 89 percent increase
If you’re already college educated, earning a master’s degree can add a sizable increase to your paycheck. Overall, employees with bachelor’s degrees earn $2.27 million over their career, while those with master’s degrees can earn up to $2.7 million.
When you’re in graduate school, your classmates come from a wide variety of backgrounds and industries. You are connected to an extensive network of professionals—many of whom are successful in their careers. You also study from professors with relevant industry expertise, combining real-world knowledge with valuable networks. The more people you’re connected to, the more opportunities you have to meet other talented professionals, discover new job openings, and advance in your career.
Obtaining a master’s degree can help you build upon your studies, preparing you for a life of continuous learning. In fact, 73 percent of Americans consider themselves lifelong learners, and 74 percent have participated in an activity over the last year that developed their lifelong pursuit of knowledge.
Think you don’t have the time? Don’t worry, many universities, like Northeastern, offer the option to earn your master’s degree full- or part-time, in class or online—allowing you to create a schedule that works around your needs, no matter how busy you are.