5 Master's Degrees That Will Drastically Increase Your Earning Power


Deciding whether to pursue an advanced degree is a big decision. Money, time, and pay-off on your investment are all important considerations when weighing the pros and cons of additional schooling. Lucky for you, we've got a list of the five master's degrees that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

1. Master's in Business Administration

Last year, MBA grads were the hottest thing in the job market. Seventy-five percent of businesses worldwide said they planned to hire at least one, according to the 2013 Corporate Recruiters Survey. If that alone doesn't pique your interest in earning an MBA, consider this: Last year's employment rate for the MBA grad was a near-perfect 95%. Now that's a good investment.

The MBA is so desirable, experts say, because it equips grads with the adaptability and savvy they need to put out fires while keeping a business running in an organized, forward-moving direction. And in this period of high unemployment, companies who might otherwise post job that are "MBA-preferred" have the luxury of making the MBA a flat-out requirement.

An MBA is also an advanced degree that will make you highly resilient. MBA grads are needed in a wide variety of workplaces, including boutique businesses, the non-profit world, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street. If there's an industry crash in the field where you land, you can always hop aboard another venture.

Potential Careers: Investment banker, human resources manager, marketing analyst, product manager, venture capitalist.

Drawback: An MBA can cost as much as a house. Top-tier private schools like University of Pennsylvania and New York University charge nearly $120,000 for two-year tuition, which doesn't include rent, living expenses, and lost potential income.

2. Master's in Management

The desirability of an advanced degree in management is skyrocketing. More than 40% of businesses interviewed in GMAC's study last year said they planned to hire grads with a master's in management. That's up from 18% in 2010. The technology, manufacturing, nonprofit, and government sectors are particularly interested in hiring MIM grads, according to the report.

Experts say this rapid rise in demand for employees with MIM degrees is likely to continue. That's because MIM grads are equipped with the know-how to help a company realize money and time savings — two qualities that are very highly valued by every business, particularly in this shaky economy. Efficient asset, people, and time management is especially important for those businesses just starting up or looking to grow. That's why this degree is also optimal for entrepreneurs looking to start up and manage their own company.

The MIM is a great alternative to the MBA for those who are scared off by the MBA's big price tag. It's also a better choice for job-seekers short on professional work experience. Most MIM candidates are younger and therefore have shorter resumes than the average MBA candidates, making the MIM a great option for recent grads.

Potential Careers: Entrepreneur, health services manager, consultant, media manager, human resources manager, product manager.

Drawback: Employers hire more MBA grads than MIM grads, and often these degree-holders are going after the same gigs.

3. Master's in Finance

After a rough few years due to the housing crash that set off an economic recession, experts say job opportunities in the finance sector are on the rebound. More than 40% of businesses planned to hire a graduate with a master's in finance last year, according to GMAC's report. Supporting this upward trend is the fact that over half of all businesses are now actively seeking to grow their customer base, GMAC found.

Finance is money — and money is the basis of business. Just about every company under the sun employs a financial expert responsible for its fiscal health. It's a robust and important role. And it can be a lucrative one. For example, the average salary of a finance director exceeds $150,000.

Another trend that bodes well for this degree holder? The baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age, which means many of them are in the market for a financial advisor to help manage their assets.

Potential Careers: Financial analyst, actuary, insurance underwriter, credit risk management analyst, portfolio manager.

Drawback: Long hours are to be expected by finance job-seekers. Additionally, some companies require employees to go the extra mile and obtain specialized licensure from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on top of their schooling.

4. Master's in Accounting

The demand for accountants is on the rise. Jobs in this field are predicted to increase by 18% over the 10-year period ending in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And last year, 38% of businesses surveyed by GMAC planned to hire accountants. Accounting may not be the sexiest career, but it certainly offers stability.

A master's in accounting makes sense if you're looking for a competitive edge or desire a higher salary. Accountants with a master's degree are more likely to obtain those highly coveted, top-paying positions in the field than those applicants with only a bachelor's degree.

Depending on the program, pursuing higher-level coursework in accounting can also help you prepare for the CPA exam. In fact, many programs are tailored specifically to help students meet the requirements of this rigorous exam.

Potential Careers: Bookkeeper, accountant, accounting clerk, certified public accountant.

Drawback: Most accounting jobs do not require a master's degree. Rather than pay for additional schooling, you could obtain the same knowledge and skills more cheaply by working two or three years in an entry or lower-level position.

5. Master's in Education Administration

Careers in education administration come with big paychecks and the rewarding opportunity to influence directly how well students learn. And experts say demand for employees these degrees is on the rise as municipalities begin to work toward adapting to new national education reform standards and baby boomers head for retirement. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the need for education administrators will jump by 8% over the course of the 10-year period ending in 2018, making now a better time than ever to pursue a degree in this field.

The potential for advancement with this degree is great. There is ample opportunity for administrators to progress by moving up to a larger school or working their way up the ranks to top leadership jobs like director of curriculum or superintendent.

Potential Careers: Principal, superintendent, director of curriculum, dean of students, staff development director.

Drawback: Jobs in education administration tend to be high-stress. And while a master's degree will qualify applicants for most jobs in in the field, those with doctorate have a huge advantage.

Have you considered pursuing a Master's degree? In what field? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

This was a very useful article. If you are reading this then another factor to consider is the quality of life you will have with each of these degrees? Usually higher salaries come from more responsibility and more hours. Let's take the Masters in Accounting for example. I used to work for a big 4 accounting firm (which will be more likely to hire you with the Master's degree) and the hours those guys worked were atrocious. Say good bye to personal life, family time, etc... but they had a steady salary. Maybe money isn't everything.. Just Say'in..

Guest's picture
George Danton

It says a lot about our nation and the world today that none of the above careers really produce anything of substance, but instead are tightly bound with money speculation and money/people manipulation.

No wonder we are 18 TRILLION dollars in debt and have a hollow economy.