Should I go back for my Master’s Degree?

Should I Go Back to my MastersI was recently asked by a client if they should go back to school for another degree.

My first question was “A master’s in what and why?” Their response? “Um, I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you?”

Oh goodness people, listen – a graduate degree should be pursued for only 3 reasons:

  1. You love the topic – and plan to stay in the field for at least 10 years, and you need the structure of coursework to dig deep and retain knowledge.

  2. Your target customers would benefit from it – whoever you serve in your market, would highly value and compensate you for the knowledge you got from it.

  3. Your industry clearly and 100% requires it for you to get to the level you want to in it – for example, many educators are required to get a master’s to be eligible for the jobs they want.

But if you want the low down on the costs, time commitment, and overall value of a master’s degree right now, here are some good things to know.

Costs – it’s not cheap! 

  • Master’s degrees today can average anywhere from $20k to $120k, although some online programs are offering cheaper degrees. The Harvard’s of the world tip that scale a lot though, so most are on the lower end ranging around 18k-30k. Again though, it really depends on the degree and the school.

  • You also have to consider all costs, including books, travel, how much an employer will cover, or not. and opportunity costs (how much is the time worth, that you’re sacrificing when you could have been working for a company building experience and raises)

    Time frame – it takes time!

  • Depends on how much time you can commit to it. Most average 2-3yrs, though there are programs where you can finish it in just over a year if you hustle and don’t take a semester break.

    Employment – there are no guarantees! 

  • Again, it all depends on the field. Of course, employability almost always goes up, if your degree applies to the field you’re actually working in (many don’t align these two, diminishing the degree’s value).

On average, the census claims Masters make about 15% more income over time than Bachelors. Again though, depends on the field.

This doesn’t guarantee quick or immediate employment – there’s been such a glut in Master’s programs (cashing in on students desperate to raise their families out of struggle and a diminishing middle class) that the value of a masters isn’t what it used to be. You still have to prove your value.

So here are some tips for determining if it’s worth it for you

  • Do your research first – look at your specific field of interest.

  • Search for the job titles you are interested in, then see how many on average ask or expect a master’s. If more don’t that not, your masters could be a costly and undervalued expense.

  • Connect with others doing what you want to do, in the positions you’d love to have. Do they have a degree? What was their educational path to their position? Then ask them what they think, but listen more deeply to what they did.

  • Search online for differentials in BA versus MA salaries, many companies and industries even put out salary survey results that show the differences certifications and degrees make in salary and seniority.

  • Looking at the companies I’ve worked for, most of the CEOs and Executive Directors didn’t have masters, buy commanded salaries in the hundreds of thousands. So look at the senior leadership, to see what their educational credentials are. it will tell you alot about how your degree will be valued (or dismissed)

On the positive

Getting a master’s should be about personal development and getting a level of depth and expertise in your field that increases your influence and impact.

If money is tight and your field shows no guarantees of a ROI for a higher degree, save your money, take online classes and free university courses and stuff your resume with all the evidence of your desire and willingness for higher education. Once you get the job, leverage your companies tuition reimbursement to get the degree you want on their dime. As long as you commit to giving them the benefit of your knowledge your all good.

A higher degree doesn’t guarantee anything these days – but a degree + hustle and a commitment to move up the ranks by providing value = hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income over time.

Alright, I’ve rambled enough, but if you need some guidance on this, let’s connect. 

Coach Baez


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