They say that a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma. If you want to get into an entry-level position that will build into something down the road, it’s become a mandatory requirement at many jobs. But what about a master’s degree?
With a bachelor’s degree quickly becoming a basic educational requirement for many career paths, does that mean you should get a master’s degree to gain an edge over the competition? Or is a master’s degree simply not worth the time and expense? It depends on your profession and your situation.
Do You Need a Master’s Degree?
In some professions, experience and/or certification is really all you need to succeed. You don’t really need to spend the money or time on a master’s when employers don’t prioritize an advanced degree. Some careers, like accounting, nursing, and engineering, require specialized bachelor’s degrees, but may not require you to pursue a master’s degree to get a good job.
For some career paths, however, there’s a definite limit on how far you can go with a bachelor’s degree alone. Some careers require advanced, specialized skills, especially when there are safety considerations in play. In others, the competition is high enough that a master’s degree can be a worthwhile investment.
Think about it from different angles when deciding if you need a master’s degree. Is not having a degree holding you back from some exciting career opportunities? Have you gone as far as you can with a bachelor’s degree alone but you want to progress in your career?
If not, you should think long and hard about whether or not an advanced degree makes sense. You will want to make sure it’s a good investment—juggling work and school is a challenge and you don’t want to find yourself stuck in debt with no return on your investment of time and money.
Things to Consider
After you’ve decided whether or not a master’s degree is necessary for you, there are some other factors to consider. You’ll need to decide not only where you want to apply but how you want to attend school and how you’ll finance your classes.
First, you should decide on a program. Depending on your career path, there might be several good options. Are you thinking you might switch careers in the future? If so, it might make more sense to get a degree in a different field and work toward a new career right now.
If you don’t yet have your bachelor’s degree, you might want to consider a dual degree program, which will allow you to finish your bachelor’s and master’s at the same time. Or, you might want to consider an accelerated program so you can finish your degree in a single, intensive year.
A traditional program will take you two to three years to complete. If you work, however, part-time might be a better option so you can continue earning and building your career while you go to school. This takes longer and it can be challenging to balance work and school but you’ll be in better shape financially and will be building your network and experience while attending school.
Getting your degree online can also be a great option. It’s much less stressful to balance school, work, and other responsibilities when you don’t have to physically attend class. Plus, there are so many great schools now offering online degrees that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for convenience.
Will Work Pay for Your Degree?
First, think about how you’ll pay for school. If you can get your employer to help sponsor your degree, that can make all the difference. Many organizations are willing to invest in their employees to improve their skill sets and this is an ideal arrangement if your employer agrees to it. Keep in mind that they might not pay for all of your tuition and fees or they may only assist with certain degree programs, so be sure to get the full details!
So… Should You Get a Master’s Degree?
Ultimately, you know your situation better than anyone else. Getting a master’s degree can open a lot of doors for you, depending on your career. If you have a solid plan for managing your time and finances and you think you can get a good return on your investment, then getting an advanced degree can be a great choice.
Remember, though, that you don’t necessarily need a master’s to build a well-paid and satisfying career. There are many jobs that don’t require one. Think about what you really want before you decide—graduate school has many benefits but it’s a big commitment that isn’t right for everyone.