Going Back for Seconds
It’s no secret that the job market’s been down these past few years. With fewer jobs available and more hungry and able candidates to fill them than ever before, the competition is looking fierce in 2013 and 2014—but there are ways for job seekers to get an edge. Often times, jobs seekers are able to land a position because they have a friend or family member who can connect them to the right people. Other times, people focus on refining their skills and knowledge by interning, or working for free to gain valuable experience. While these are both great ways to increase job prospects, there is a third option that has the benefits of a strong network while providing training that can set you apart from other job candidates—going back for your master’s degree.
Whatever the field of study or employment, it’s undeniable that having a master’s degree makes your more qualified for a job than simply having a bachelor’s does. When companies and recruiters review hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes, they gloss over them looking for particular key words and phrases, one of which “Master of…” Having this phrase appear on your resume can move you to the top of a list of potential candidates, getting you in the door. Whether you’re looking to move up on your current career path, or you’re looking to begin an entirely new job, a master’s degree will help you get to where you want to be.
Many companies like to hire from within, so earning that shiny new “Master of…” title has the potential to help you move up in the world and to make more money while you do. Maybe you’ve got a degree in economics (economists, market research analysts, data analysts, etc.), for example. You can increase your projected employment by as much as 19% by earning a master’s degree in economics. At that level, the mid-career median salary is around $116,000, according to Forbes. Or maybe you’re a leasing manager and you want to move into the more commercial side of the industry. With a master’s degree in real estate you could make that transition and earn a median salary around $110,000 (a great resource for jobs related to the apartment industry is found here).
Another reason why people seek master’s-level education is to gain job flexibility. When you’re a twenty-something undergrad, you might have one idea about what you’d love to do with the rest of your life, but when your hit your mid-thirties, your dream job may be something entirely different. A person can spend half of his or her career working one job, and then wake up one day wanting to do another, entirely different career. The change can be within a field—a teacher wanting to become a school administrator, for example—or it can be more drastic like an accountant realizing that perusing a master of divinity degree would help them enhance the religious aspects of their life and ultimately make them happier in their work. Whether you’re seeking a master’s degree in school administration or a master’s degree in divinity, the mobility offered by a master’s degree can be the key to increasing job flexibility and satisfaction.
Clearly, there are many benefits to pursuing a master’s degree in 2013. Just like all good things, however, the benefits don’t come without the work. Getting your master’s degree is by no means impossible, but it does take considerable effort. For some people, going back to school can be a bit of a culture shock. After being away from the academic setting for a while, the return to attending classes and reading and writing for hours can be jarring, especially if they’re already working a full-time job.
With a little determination and an open mind, going back to grad school can be a very fulfilling and life-changing experience. The very best graduate programs are taught by individuals who have dedicated their lives to particular fields of study and industries, and they offer a unique worldview and pool of knowledge that is yours for the taking. Your professors can open doors most other people cannot, both intellectually and professionally. While the work may be staggering, the benefits outweigh the difficulties a hundred–to-one. In 2013, it’s hard to say what the job market will look like this year or next, but you can be assured that perusing a master’s degree now will help you as the future becomes clearer.