According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you have a master’s degree, your earning power is at least 21% higher than those with just a bachelor’s degree. But there are a lot of reasons to get a master’s degree. Commanding a higher salary is just one of them.
1. Stand out. Move up.
By earning a graduate school degree, you join an elite portion of the population. Roughly 8% of Americans have a master’s degree. That’s the same percentage that held bachelor’s degrees in the 1960s. So while a bachelor’s degree has gotten you this far in your career, you’re likely only “on par” with many of your colleagues or applicants competing for a new job. With a master’s degree you can earn a new level of respect and stand out among your coworkers, and especially if a new career or job is in your future.
2. Stay on top.
Depending on when you earned your undergraduate degree, your knowledge of your field might be outdated. Master’s degree programs offer the opportunity to sharpen skills, keep up with advancements in your field and learn from researchers and other movers and shakers in your area of specialty. Master’s degree programs also offer access to the latest and greatest tools and technology. We’d all like to think that we have a certain level of job security, but earning a master’s degree increases your value to your current and/or future employer.
3. Kick start a new career.
If you’re bored or feel unchallenged by your current job, you’re not alone. Only 14% of U.S. workers believe they have the perfect job and more than 50% want to change careers. A master’s degree can help you prepare for a new career — and can open up more job opportunities in a field that challenges you and makes you happy. And, of course, some jobs require a graduate school degree.
4. Become the expert.
So maybe, unlike more than half of all Americans, you know the career you have now is where you want to stay. Or maybe you’re one of the 14% who think they have perfect job. But are you at the top of your game? Are you considered an expert in your field? Earning master’s degree isn’t always about getting the degree or advancing your career. For some, continual learning and becoming the best, most knowledgeable and respected expert in the field is motivation enough.
5. Be a pioneer.
You can learn a lot from years of experience on the job. And if you’re lucky you might even make an important contribution to your field. But top master’s degree programs offer opportunities to make an impact on your industry and the world through cutting edge research. Google, television, Gatorade® and thousands of other household products and life changing technologies were all the result of university graduate research. Creating the next life saving drug sounds like a pretty noble reason to get a master’s degree.
6. It’s good for your health.
Earning a graduate degree not only offers opportunities for career advancement, it challenges you to grow both intellectually and personally. We grow by learning and trying new things. And research shows that learning has a physiological benefit to your health and happiness by stimulating reward centers in your brain. But perhaps the most convincing reason of all is the feeling of accomplishment a graduate degree provides. Of all the reasons to get a master’s degree, a sense of pride and personal satisfaction always rank among the highest.
7. Get paid to go to school.
Many master’s degree programs offer stipends that cover all of or a portion of tuition costs — and possibly more for teaching assistants or research assistants. So, in effect, you can go to school for free, or even get paid to earn your master’s degree. Every university and program treat stipends and financial aid differently so check details and financial aid for graduate school degrees carefully. But even if you don’t qualify, some employers have funds set aside that will pay partial or full fees for qualified employees to get a graduate school degree. So don’t be afraid to ask your employer.