Everybody knows that the cost of higher education in the United States virtually skyrocketed over the past decade. Student loan debt is now far higher than debt resulting from other types of personal credit and this has led many youths to wonder if a college degree is still worth it. Likewise, the utility of postgraduate studies, for which tuition is even higher, has come under question. As such, the latest Forbes study, which analyzes the best master’s degrees for careers, is a very important tool for today’s prospective employee. If you’re considering enrolling for such a degree, but would like to know if your choice has a chance to pay off in the long run, read on to find out what your best bets are.
The Forbes poll used data collected from a site which allows users to compare their salaries against those in the same field. The site has over 16.5 million users in all lines of work. The profile of users with master’s degrees states they are aged 43, have been active in the work force for 15 years and earn on average a median salary which ranges from $53,000 to $121,000. The study also looked at the expected level of growth for these popular career tracks over the coming decade and found that some options are more viable in the long-run than others. Here are the five best master’s degrees for careers.
Physician Assistant Master’s
This is by far the best choice, as the curriculum doesn’t usually include too many highly specialized courses. The median salary for physician assistants with a master’s degree is $98,000. Given the projected aging of America’s population, the demand for physician assistants is expected to grow, by a hefty 39 per cent over the next ten years. The overall number of job openings is also bound to increase by a margin as large as 57 per cent, which also includes employment opportunities caused by replacement needs.
Computer science master’s
This one is no surprise: everyone expects IT experts to make quite a lot of money, as well as to have a plethora of jobs at their fingertips. The former certainly is true, as the average median pay for a computer scientist with a master’s degree is $111,000. However, the IT field does not expect to see as big a growth in terms of employment and jobs as other fields, since many industry experts have explained that, for the time being, the computer science boom is plateauing. Further confounding the complex situation of computer science is the relative difficulty of successfully graduating from such a program. At the other end, however, many different jobs await, from software developer to consultancy positions, and database administrator.
Civil engineering master’s
It might come as a surprise for some that civil engineering ranks among the best master’s degrees for careers. After all, conventional wisdom indicates that the number of jobs in construction should not be on the rise. Civil engineering, however, is one of those career tracks that also opens up opportunities in the U.S. Army. Employment levels among graduates are expected to rise by 24 per cent and median pay stands at $98,700. It’s a difficult track to follow, given the level of specialization that courses entail – however, it pays well and comes with a lofty sense of responsibility and utility for society.
That’s right: here’s one master’s degree that is likely to lead you into the field of education. Who would’ve thought that teaching positions could actually rank as profitable? Consider, however, the focus that the current administration is placing on encouraging students to take up sciences. High school math teachers can be well-paid – the average median salary for graduates of this kind of master’s program is $96,900 per year and job growth stands at 51 per cent for the next ten years. If teaching does not appeal to you, it’s worth knowing that other careers for graduates of these programs include actuary and statistician.
Physics master’s degree
Yet another science-related program ranks among the top 5 best master’s degrees for careers and it comes as no surprise to see it here. Physics is a wide field, with numerous employment opportunities, in a wide range of industries. Physics graduates can end up working in engineering, but also in the medical device development field. Median pay for mid-career workers stands at $110,000, just a little below computer sciences graduates. Employment rates are not expected to see any major growth (only 16 per cent), but, all in all, physics does not look like too bad a career choice.