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HomeEducationHow to Decide if a Master’s Degree is Right for Your Career

How to Decide if a Master’s Degree is Right for Your Career

Higher education is excellent for those working in STEM fields and in academia. If you work outside of these sectors, however, it can be difficult to decide if a master’s degree is right for you. Often, you don’t need a master’s degree in order to succeed and make it big. There are even a few big examples of entrepreneurs who dropped out of their degree to pursue their business idea.

That does not mean there is no reason to get a master’s, but rather you need to be clear about what you want, and what the master’s degree in question can offer you.

Why You Would Want a Master’s Degree

There are a few key reasons why you would want a master’s degree:

  • You Want to Specialize in a New Area

There are many master’s degrees that don’t build on existing knowledge, but rather open you up to an entirely new branch. Say you have a BA in English, this is a great, rounded degree option that opens the door for many opportunities in education, marketing, entertainment, and more. If you want to get ahead or get your foot in the door of a new field, however, then a master’s degree can be just the ticket.

There are many master’s degrees that allow you to learn a whole new subject, without strict prerequisites. You can earn a top-ranked online Masters degree in Education with a humanities BA, for example, and specialize without needing to take foundation courses to branch your education over.

This even applies, to an extent, to STEM fields, though you will need a STEM based BSc as a foundation. Either way, when you want to specialize in a new area, first look to master’s programs, rather than bachelor’s. You will be surprised at what you can qualify for, and how much a master’s can help you with your career goals.

  • You Want to Stand Apart from Other Candidates

Further education can be just the thing that tips you over and makes you more appealing than other candidates. It isn’t that degrees in and of themselves make a candidate better, but rather that they mean the candidate is trained to research and to further their field. When you hire a candidate with an impressive academic career on top of an impressive workplace career, you have someone that can do the job, and also push beyond.

  • All Job Openings You See Require More Formal Education

There are many reasons why a job role may require a certain type of degree. This could be because of legal reasons, or because the information that you will be expected to know is relatively standard across the board. Either way, if you find that your dream job has the same formal academic requirements from employer to employer, it’s safe to say that investing in a degree is the ideal way to go, though that shouldn’t stop you from trying to apply to these roles in the meantime. Sometimes just working on an online degree can be enough to get you into these roles.

You Legally Need a Certain Degree

There are some job roles that you can only do if you have the necessary license. To get this license, you will need to complete formal education, and then take an exam. Ensure that the degree you choose qualifies, otherwise you could be wasting your time.

How to Choose the Right Degree

Unless there are very specific degree requirements (for example, to get licensed) the actual degree you get is up to you. A good way to get started with choosing the right degree is to follow this template:

1.      Start at the Job Boards

A good way to understand what you need to know and what type of experience you will need is to go to the job boards. Search for your dream job, or at least jobs available at a company you would love to work for, and explore what roles are available and what qualifications that they are looking for.

You should also look up notable employees in your dream position and see what their resume includes. Don’t just look at their academic careers, but their professional careers. Try to create a list of the knowledge and skills that will help you thrive in your career, because this list is going to help you find the right degree for you.

2.      Online or On-Campus

The next thing you will need to decide is whether you will learn online, or on-campus. For those who are already in the professional world, often the best option will be online, as this can be completed from home and can often be juggled with your other responsibilities.

3.      Explore Degree Types

With both those in mind you’ll want to explore what types of degrees are out there. To start you’ll just want to know the degree names that relate to what you want to learn are called. Some are obvious, others are not so obvious, so exploring what is out there can be a great place to start.

4.      Narrow Down Your Options

There are many excellent ways to narrow down your options. To start, you will want to look at your checklist. Try to create a shortlist of options that work to teach and prepare you in ways that will help you with your career goals the most. You will then also want to consider university rankings, the faculty that are teaching you, and even the level of pastoral support available.

5.      Look At Reviews

Once you have narrowed down your list you’ll want to apply to all of them. While you are waiting for responses it’s a good idea to look up reviews, and even get in touch with alumni to see how they found their degree, and if they can give you any advice. Their insight can help you select which degree is perfect, if you are accepted more than once.

Further education can be exactly what your career needs, but you need to decide that for yourself, and work hard to find the degree that will help prepare you for the next stages of your career the most.

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