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Salaries and Career Path

Many people face the dilemma of whether or not to pursue a master’s degree. Often, degree programs in the United States can cost more than $100,000, which leaves much to be desired in terms of post-graduation career prospects. Potential students want a guarantee that this investment will pay off in terms of long-term success. While every career path requires effort regardless of qualifications, there are some fields in which a master’s degree truly unlocks the door to distinctive positions and significantly higher wages.

Take a look:


Master’s degrees are awarded in business more than any other field. Additionally, a graduate degree in business proves to be the most lucrative in terms of career prospects. The most common and most promising business degrees are a Master’s in Business Administration, a Master’s in Information Technology/Data Analytics, and a Master’s in Finance. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiter’s Survey , there is an increasing demand for master’s degrees in data analytics. In fact, 71% of the 1,066 surveyed employers planned to place recent business school graduates into data analytic roles in 2018. Additionally, 35% of companies hired data analytics graduates in 2017, while 52% of surveyed companies planned to hire them in 2018.

The GMAC also performed an Alumni Perspectives Survey in 2018, polling people who graduated from business school within the past decade. In this survey of 10,882, 89% of business school graduates were employed with a median annual salary of $115,000. Moreover, 87% of business school alumni agreed that the skills they developed in business school advanced their careers. This is an extremely high rate of success and satisfaction.


One out of every five master’s degrees are awarded in the field of education with a payoff that is relatively high. In fact, some school positions, including guidance counselor and principal, require a Master’s in Education. If you are interested in one of these career paths, be aware that most high-ranking education positions also require state licensure.

Additionally, all administrative careers in the field of education require a master’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the median salary in 2018 for education administrators in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools was greater than $75,000. This is a very high return on the investment of a degree.

Healthcare and Social Service

Master’s degrees are commonly given in the fields of healthcare and social service. There is an overall increase in wages after obtaining a master’s degree. Physician’s assistants, for example, have wages that are 44% higher than that of healthcare workers with solely a bachelor’s degree.

Additionally, healthcare and social services are ever growing, ever changing fields. There is always a need for innovative, hard-working people dedicated to the physical and mental well-being of others. You may want to consider the following career paths which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , have a much faster than average growth rate compared to other occupations:

  • Genetic Counselors: There were slightly less than 1,000 new job openings in this profession in 2018, but with a much faster than average growth rate, this is sure to change. A genetic counselor is an especially lucrative career path, as the 2018 median salary was upwards of $75,000.
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: There were between 10,000 and 49,999 new jobs for mental health and substance abuse social workers in 2018, with a median salary ranging from $35,000 to $54,999. Social work is a very stable and rewarding career path.
  • Nurse Practitioners: In 2018 alone, there were over 50,000 new jobs for nurse practitioners, with a median salary of $75,000 and above. Though this is a demanding job, it is highly lucrative, and you will doubtless connect with many different people from various walks of life.

STEM Fields

Workers in the STEM fields - particularly mathematicians and statisticians - have wages that are approximately 33% higher than their colleagues who only hold bachelor’s degrees. There is also a wage premium for master’s degree holders in both computer systems analysis and computer programming.

Currently, a Master’s in Applied Statistics is a trending degree that can open the door to a wide variety of careers. When you think about it, nearly every industry requires data analysis. As a professional statistician, you can become a sports data analyst, a political polling analyst, a data scientist for tech start-ups, a biostatistician, and so much more. The field of statistics is projected to grow 33% by 2026, so with this degree, your qualifications will surely be in high demand.

Additionally, as the “E” in STEM, there are many advantages to pursuing a graduate degree in engineering. According to the employment website Monster , the average salary for a master’s degree in electrical engineering $130,000. With a master’s in any engineering field (engineering, mechanical, computer, or other), you will also be better qualified for executive or managerial positions. The majority of engineers do not hold master’s degrees, and so this will greatly set you apart from your colleagues.