In 2021, 14.4 percent of the country’s population completed an advanced degree, and the number of people taking master’s, doctorate, and professional degrees has increased yearly. Nowadays, earning an advanced degree is one of the surest ways to climb the work ladder and stay employed. But not everyone sees the benefits of spending or loaning more money to study. Find out the advantages of further studies with this guide to advanced degrees in the U.S.
Certificate vs. Getting an Advanced Degree
Many people often mistake graduate certificates for advanced degrees. While having either can help you reach your career goals, some jobs or positions require education levels and experience. Many industries consider graduate certificates enough to climb the career ladder, but other professions need a form of advanced degree to stay professionally competitive.
Certificates are for specialized pieces of training in a specific skill. People whose careers focus on or require a particular set of training or skills take graduate certificate courses to help them further their knowledge. They can be technical or vocational jobs.
Other graduate certificates require continuing education to meet career standards, especially in law and medicine. People with established jobs can use these programs to get promotions or raise faster. Unlike advanced degrees, they take less time to complete and are more affordable.
An advanced degree takes two or more years to complete and is beyond your bachelor’s degree. Advanced degrees like your master’s, doctorate, and other professional programs, like law school and medical school, focus on strategic skill development in their chosen fields instead of a single specialization. There is also more freedom in customizing your experience to your interests and goals.
“There is a consensus that graduate degrees enhance skills, increase employee competency and employees’ perceived value to employers, and result in higher pay” – Adjunct Assistant Professor, Parks, Recreation & Tourism, University of Utah
The Benefits of Advanced Degrees
Advanced or graduate degrees are some of the best educational steps to further your career. In addition, it’s also a worthwhile investment that provides several benefits to a person’s personal and professional growth. Here are some of the benefits of earning your advanced degree.
Career Advancement, Flexibility, and Increased Job Prospects
Completing an advanced degree opens the door to new job prospects and opportunities. They also facilitate career advancement and help people wanting a career change. Adding a postgraduate degree to your CV can be a massive stepping stone for your professional growth.
Many employers in different industries recognize the value of advanced degrees, and some professions require them to achieve certain positions. Finishing any graduate program helps employees to stand out from the crowd. It gives them the professional edge to stay ahead in their fields.
Flexibility is another notable benefit of advanced degrees. There is no time limit to finish them, and people can learn the lessons through distance learning or a combination of different methods. It makes them a perfect choice for people who have other professional and personal commitments. In addition, an advanced degree encourages lifelong learning in people despite their different life stages.
Increased Earning Potential
One of the reasons why many people finish their advanced degrees is because they offer employees the chance for a wage increase. Unlike graduate certificates, a master’s or a doctorate bumps your pay grade. In a 2021 census, U.S. workers with a master’s degree have a higher average income than employees who only have a bachelors.
In the health and medical industry, employees with graduate or professional degrees have higher annual incomes. The increased earning potential is the result of the worker’s increased credibility and knowledge.
In addition, many advanced degree programs have an assistant teaching position option. The offer allows students to offset some of their costs when in graduate school. They’re also helpful in helping any career change or job switch, giving you a head start instead of starting at the bottom.
Taking further study on a specific course alongside a group of successful, like-minded individuals provides you the opportunity to network. Depending on which industry you’re in, the number of contacts you have can make a huge difference in your career.
Advanced programs help you meet new people and give you a space to expand your network within your field. It may not be the primary incentive, but it does increase your job prospects. Wider networks offer higher chances of learning about vacant positions and organizations. It also increases your potential recommendations to get into the company you want.
In addition, graduate programs offer internships and research opportunities that can connect you with professionals within the industry you’ve chosen. Many employees pursuing graduate-level education can find job vacancies in the organizations they interned or researched.
Advanced degrees are not only about academic and professional achievement, but they also encourage personal development. Graduate courses are autonomous and emphasize how the student is responsible for putting things in motion. Autonomy helps them develop their professional skills while hosting other beneficial skills they can apply in their lives, like independence and self-motivation.
An advanced degree helps people gain more insight into their goals, interests, and strengths. The personal development they get with finishing a master’s or doctorate makes them more appealing to potential employers.
“People who obtain master’s degrees are more likely to transfer to higher quality schools with better working conditions.” – Helen F. Ladd, Susan B. King Professor Emerita of Public Policy and Economics, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
Why Advanced Degrees Matter
Advanced degrees are some of the professional world’s biggest stepping stones. While many people find postgraduate programs tedious and costly, further education provides numerous benefits to students. They allow career development, increase your wage, expand your network, and help with your personal growth. Earning a postgrad comes with several financial sacrifices, but some options can help ease the burden. In the end, it’s a worthwhile investment that you should consider.
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