10 Master’s Degrees Worth Getting

Updated: Nov 10, 2016

Master's Degrees Worth Getting

There is the debate whether or not a graduate degree pays off in the long run – that, instead of earning one, a strong base of undergraduate education coupled with experience is the better way to move up the corporate ladder, to land and keep good, high-paying jobs.

It should be noted that the following salaried figures, as well as job growth statistics, pertain to the American job market; and much of the below information can be found at the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov

Here are 10 graduate Master’s degrees that pay off:

Economics

A master’s degree in Economics qualifies someone to become an economist, one who studies, researches and analyzes economic issues and problems. Economists examine the production and distribution of resources, goods and services by collecting and analyzing data, researching trends and evaluating economic matters. A Master’s degree in Economics trains a student in economic theory, econometrics and applied economics, and produces experts in applied research and financial analysis, preparing them for a doctorate in the field. Most economist jobs require a Master’s degree (in some cases a Ph. D.) in economics. Employment for economists is projected to grow over the next several years. In the United States, as of 2012, the economist with a Master’s degree makes a median annual salary of about $92,000.

Physician’s Assistant Studies

A Master’s degree in Physician’s Assistant Studies prepares someone to collaborate with a doctor of medicine and to handle work delegated by a physician. To become a physician assistant (PA), a person has to be a graduate of an accredited PA educational program; they have to be nationally certified and state-licensed in order to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. A graduate degree in PA studies trains a person to perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, perform procedures and assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling, and to make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes, etc. This program is modeled on the medical school curriculum and is quite rigorous and intense; and PA students learn as much about the body as a physician would learn in medical school. The median salary for a PA is about $90,000.

Computer Science

A computer scientist not only does computer programming; they solve problems, too. They are creators, designers, analysts, etc. They work with people to develop innovative ways to harness the power of computing to address problems in almost every discipline and industry sector. With a Master’s degree in Computer Science, a person is eligible for several in-demand positions – like a software engineer – in research institutions, government agencies, technology companies and academic institutions. Other jobs available for those with a Master’s degree in Computer Scientist: Computer and Information Scientist, specializing in research; Computer Programmer; Computer Software Engineer; Computer Support Specialist; Database Administrator – and plenty of others. While the salary ranges for a person with this degree, there is no shortage of well-paying jobs in the computer science field. A Computer and Information Scientist, for example, has a median annual salary of about $96,000; while the Computer Support Specialist has a median annual salary of about $44,000.

Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineers design, develop and maintain electrical control systems and/or components to required specifications, focusing on economy, safety, reliability, quality and sustainability. They design and manufacture electrical equipment for use across many sectors, including but not limited to: the building industry and services, including lighting, heating and ventilation; transportation and transport networks; manufacturing and construction; and production and distribution of electrical power. Jobs in the electrical engineer field – which requires a graduate degree – have a median annual salary of approximately $93,000.

Mathematics

A Master’s degree program for Mathematics is considered one of the best graduate-level programs for those looking to excel in the math field. It is designed to prepare those to teach at the high school and junior college levels, as well as for careers in business, industry and/or government. A Master’s degree in Mathematics readies graduates for careers as actuaries, as well as financial, budget and operation research analysts, and certainly economists – jobs where they will use applied or theoretical mathematics to answer question and solve problems. Of these professions, the financial analyst is expected to see the most job openings: 54,000-plus jobs between 2010 and 2020, and those with this degree will see a broad range of salary depending on an individual’s career path.

Information Systems

Quite similar to the Master’s degree in Computer Science is the Master’s degree in Computer Science. This degree paves the way for a career as a computer and information systems manager, which if often called an information technology (IT) manager or IT project manager; they plan, coordinate and direct computer-related activities in an organization, helping to determine the information technology goals of an organization, and they are responsible for implementing computer systems to meet these goals. The median annual wage for computer and information systems managers was $120,950 in 2012. Employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to grow by 15 percent from 2012 to 2022.

Physics

A Physicist studies the ways in which various forms of matter and energy interact. Theoretical physicists may study the nature of time or the origin of the universe. Physicists in applied fields may develop new military technologies or new sources of energy, or monitor space debris that could endanger satellites. They conduct scientific research with specialized equipment, such as lasers, spend much of their time working in offices, but also conduct research in laboratories and observatories. Most physicists need first a Master’s degree, then a Ph.D. for most research jobs – though quite a few physicist assistants must have a Master’s degree in the field. Ph.D. holders typically begin their careers in temporary postdoctoral research positions. In 2012, the median annual wage for physicists was $106,840. Employment of physicists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2012 to 2022. Expected growth in federal government spending for physics and astronomy research should increase the need for physicists and astronomers, especially at colleges and universities and national laboratories.

Occupation Therapy

Occupational Therapists (OT) treat injured, ill or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Many work in offices specializing in occupational therapy or in hospitals; others work in schools, physicians, nursing homes and for businesses providing home health services. They must have a Master’s degree specializing in the field, and are required by most states to be licensed and/or registered. They have a median annual salary of about $75,000. Employment for OTs, from 2012 to 2022, is projected to grow 29 percent because occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people who age and develop various illnesses that result from the degeneration of the body that comes with aging.

Health Care Administration

A Master’s degree in Administration leads to careers as healthcare managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators. These are people who plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services. Medical and health services managers may manage an entire facility or specialize in managing a specific clinical area or department, or manage a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must be able to adapt to changes in healthcare laws, regulations and technology. They held about 315,500 jobs in 2012, and most of them work in offices in healthcare facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes and group medical practices. The median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $88,580 in 2012.

Nursing

Off all the various nursing occupations, few require an advanced graduated degree. Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) – a career that requires one to have a graduate degree in the field – ready patients for surgery, conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat common acute illnesses and injuries, administer immunizations, manage chronic problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and order lab services and x rays, provide prenatal and gynecological care, deliver babies in hospitals and private settings such as homes, and follow up with postpartum care. A Master's degree in nursing allows advanced practice nurses to work as nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, certified clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse anesthetists. Advanced practice nurses right out of graduate school can expect annual salaries ranging from $60,000 to $90,000. After five years of practice, the salary range for APNs stretches from $60,000 to $100,000 a year. APNs are in very high demand in the U.S. and Canada.

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