With the job market careering off in all directions and proving harder to predict what will be a comfortable career for life and bring you a money vault of Getty-esque proportions and what will leave you with a seedy apartment and a student loan until you are 45, considering a Master’s degree is an attractive proposition. But is a Master’s degree simply prolonging the agony and racking up more unaffordable debt or a smart move to financial freedom?
Not all Masters degrees are created equal. Master’s degrees in fields like Business Administration, Economics, Marketing, and Engineering are proven to yield a significant increase in pay while others do little more than make you more poor. How can you make sure that pursuing a Master’s degree will make you more marketable?
Consider these tips to help you make an informed choice.
Know the Market
You should always follow you passion, always, always, ALWAYS, after all, you have a working life of forty years left in you, but you may need to temper it with an ounce of reasoning. Know what skills your chosen industry are looking for and develop those skills. Not all courses teach current methods, so make sure you are getting the kind of degree that makes you marketable.
Questions like, ‘Are you getting the knowledge, skills, and certifications they are looking for through your degree? Is your field growing or shrinking? Can you cross your skill set into a different industry with the same degree?’ all help you evaluate what you need to have the edge above the competition and if a graduate degree is a good career move.
Leverage What You Already Know
Although it has been all your life for the last two decades, you need to consider your education as a snapshot of your career development so far. Theory may be necessary, but class room learning is not enough to make you competitive in today’s market. Internships, voluntary work, employment, co ops – literally anything that gives you work experience during can give you and edge in the job market. It may seem like an unbearable workload, but it will pay off in the end. It can also help you gain a place at grad school or know if it will help. By making networks you can cultivate the relationships that can guide you to making the right decision and the most of a post graduate degree so you know it is not wasted time, or money.
While you are studying your undergrad degree, look at professional certifications in your chosen industry. Consider investing in those rather than a Master’s degree as they will be tailored to what is current, what is needed and what is important. Join as many professional bodies as you can network them to find out what would be a good post grad degree to take, or alternatives that make you desirable to potential employers.
If you consider a Masters as an option, look for colleges that have forged relationships with local businesses and are actively partnered with them. They will have current courses and will make you more marketable to a prospective employer.
If you want to take a Masters to upgrade your education, consider swapping disciplines. Business Administration, Economics and Marketing Masters degrees do not always rely on an undergrad degree in the same discipline. It will be a challenge, but may lead to the job of dreams in the long run.
Be a Brand!
How are you marketing yourself? Have you created a career portfolio of your work and experience? Do you have strong resumes tailored to each job opportunity? Have you engaged social media outlets and branded yourself professionally online? With so much digital media available it will be easy for a perspective company to find out about what you do, who you are and if you will be an asset to their company. If you want to stand out for the other candidates social media may not be the best way to do it. Create a network to find a job, and if it doesn’t happen and you chose a Masters, keep it current and professional to aid your future career.
Whatever your decision on a Master’s degree use your time wisely to make yourself the perfect candidate that employers feel they cannot live without. Grants and bursaries may cover the cost of some of your post grad studies but not all, so your investment in further education better be a good one.
By taking into account all the information you have and making a smart decision, make sure that if you manage to date an arts student sometime, that you have the kind of career that will be able to pay for it – because the chances are, they won’t.
Guest post courtesy of Free Resume Builder