As a young professional, getting a master’s degree might be the last thing on your mind after the year we’ve had.
However, if earning a master’s is something you have considered, but never followed through with, maybe now is as good of a time as any to ask yourself this question: does earning a master’s degree actually help a young professional’s career?
The answer is probably, yes, if you’ve identified your career direction. Take a look at a few of the ways how.
5 Ways Earning a Master’s Can Help Your Career
5. A Master’s Degree Often Means Higher Earning Potential.
We know that in some fields, a master’s degree can be hugely impactful on annual salary. Inside Higher Ed wrote a post in March of 2020 that shows higher projected income rates for those who earned a master’s compared with those who earned a bachelor’s in the fields of business and computer science. The Harvard Business Review posted in early 2020 that most jobs across several industries see an increase in earning potential with a master’s degree.
If you’re pursuing a master’s in the humanities, you might still see salary gains with a master’s, but just at a lower rate compared with those in the business and tech industries.
4. Specialize Your Skills.
Earning your master’s degree generally takes less time than when you earned your bachelor’s degree. This is because the courses are more specialized to your chosen field. For example, Concordia University’s MBA program offers 17 industry-specific specializations. This is why it’s so important to know why you want to get a master’s. You won’t regret thinking through your “why” and what you hope to get out of a master’s.
Depending on the type of program you choose, your master’s degree could involve a significant research component. Be sure to investigate the program and faculty so that you know what to expect if you think completing a research-intensive master’s is for you. Knowing your why, knowing your desired outcomes, and knowing your career goals will guide you as you consider specializing your skills with a master’s degree.
3. Better Professional Opportunities.
Earning a master’s is so much more than gaining academic knowledge. You have the opportunity to build relationships with your classmates and professors, even if you’re taking online courses. Expanding your professional network allows you to take control of your career. When a challenging project at work has you pulling your hair out, it can be really helpful to connect with another industry professional to brainstorm.
In addition to an increased professional network, earning a master’s could allow you to take on projects you ordinarily wouldn’t, especially if your workplace is open to collaboration between departments. Some master’s programs will work with you to fulfill any internship requirements that might exist while on-the-job, so be on the lookout for ways you can align practical experience with your career goals.
Many master’s programs offer business challenges, hackathons, or other types of competitions that will challenge your quantitative skills in addition to your presentation skills. Not only do these teams go all-out in competitions together, but they often become lifelong friends and great networking contacts.
2. Tuition Reimbursement.
Okay, real talk: tuition reimbursement in and of itself is not a good reason to pursue a master’s degree.
But, if getting a master’s aligns with your career goals and you have calculated your return-on-investment, tuition reimbursement can be extremely helpful. It’s always a good idea to research what your workplace’s policies are around professional development and graduate education. Keeping your team and your manager in the loop is wise so that you have a clear understanding of what the expectations are.
1. Personal Development.
Pursuing your master’s degree is a formational experience. This is a commitment you’re making to yourself, and for some people, it might even feel like self-care. You will have moments when you’re well outside of your comfort zone for the sake of personal growth and challenge. While you’re sharpening your vocation, your time in a master’s program could open your eyes to the ways you can better serve your community.
Personal development is not just about you.
Earning a master's degree opens you up to leverage your skills and network for the sake of positively impacting others. You don't have to choose between slaying at pivot tables and social justice. There is always a way for you to positively contribute.
Times are tense worldwide, and this is obviously true in the United States as well. As you grow and gain industry experience, how can you share your skills with your community? Earning a master’s degree opens you up to leverage your skills and network for the sake of positively impacting others. You don’t have to choose between slaying at pivot tables and social justice. There is always a way for you to positively contribute.
Young professionals are stepping up to challenges every day across all industries. Ultimately, you have to be the one to decide if earning a master’s degree will help your career.
Are you going to go for it?
This blog was originally published on 11/02/2020. It has been updated to reflect current information.
— Vanessa Lane is the Content Marketing Lead at Concordia University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. When she's not at work, she can be found playing with her kids or watching NBA basketball with her husband.
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