Going back to school for a master’s after years of experience in the working world is a wildly different experience than going to grad school straight after finishing as an undergrad. Although many “traditional” grad students have jobs, their lives still usually revolve around school. For adults with established careers, families and a slew of other personal commitments, earning a master’s degree can prove challenging.
The challenge is of course well worth it under the right circumstances. If you’re just avoiding taking the next step at work or you’re only semi-interested in the subject, it may not be the right time. Earning a master’s degree while balancing a fulfilling career can make sense, however, if it’s for a specific purpose. Here are some smart reasons to pursue your master’s degree while working in your career:
You need a master’s degree for your desired career path.
If your current position is related to the job for which you’re aspiring, continuing to work while going to school may help with your studies and vice versa. As a working professional, you have valuable, real-world experience that you can apply to your studies.
Some jobs require a master’s degree. If you’re hoping to land one of these jobs, then earning a master’s is a must, even if you’re doing well in your current position.
You want to open the door to more opportunities.
Even if your field doesn’t require a master’s degree, will it help you get more opportunities or better opportunities? Some positions prefer candidates with a master’s, even if it isn’t a requirement.
Pay attention to the people who have the positions that you covet. Take note of their educational backgrounds and experience.
Another point to consider is pay increases. Some companies or positions pay more for employees with a master’s degree.
Simply put, going to graduate school now can lead to better opportunities for you later.
You’re hungry for knowledge in a particular area.
Career opportunities and pay increases are great reasons to get a graduate education, but they’re not the only reasons. You may want to get a master’s degree for personal development and the pursuit of knowledge. If you’re lucky enough to work in your dream field, gaining expertise in your subject area can make your work even more rewarding.
Master’s programs offer a more deeply focused approach to subject matter. The assignments, reading and projects can offer a different, often more theoretical, perspective into the field than what you do while at work.
Even if you’re not in it for the money or opportunity, adding to your skill set can help make you more valuable, at both your current job and future jobs.
As you can see, earning a master’s degree as a well-established professional can be beneficial to your career and your personal development. Just make sure you’re going back for the right reasons.
Need some more help determining if going back to school is the best option for you? Check out this free worksheet to guide you through the decision-making process.