Will an Online Degree Help My Career?
School is anything but free, and going back to advance your education is a serious decision to make. Many professionals wonder if earning an extra degree will really pay off in their career, and if it makes sense from a return-on-investment point of view.
Considering Return on Investment
Lucky for you, there is hard data on what impact a higher degree can have on one's career. The U.S. Census Bureau has tracked education and career salaries for nearly 40 years, and has developed a pretty solid understanding of the relationship between degrees and earnings. To put it bluntly, over the course of a lifetime, earning a higher degree always pays off (noting that the doctoral degree should be viewed as an alternative to a professional degree rather than a step up).
- For full-time workers, the average yearly earnings look like this:
- high school graduates- $30,400;
- some college- $36,800;
- associate's degree- $38,200;
- bachelor's degree- $52,200;
- master's degree- $62,300;
- professional degree- $109,600;
- doctoral degree- $89,400.
While the differences in earnings between some of the degrees may not look that significant, over the course of a lifetime, this increase in earnings can really add up.
- Over the course of ages 25-65, full-time workers earn this much on average (in millions):
- associate's degree- $1.6;
- bachelor's degree- $2.1;
- master's degree- $2.5;
- professional degree- $4.4;
- doctoral degree $3.4.
Considering Your Profession & Personal Career Goals
As you can see, on average, it certainly pays to earn a higher degree. However, to get a better sense of how a higher degree will affect your particular career, you'll have to consider your own profession and the relevant degrees.
- Some degrees, such as master's degrees in engineering, life sciences, or business, are considered "no-brainers" by those studying demographic trends right now. Employers value these degrees, and professionals with these degrees should have great employment prospects and high initial salaries.
- Other careers, such as social work, require a higher degree for professional advancement, even though the lifetime earnings increase isn't as dramatic, due to the low starting salary in the profession. Consider how necessary a higher degree is for climbing the ladder in your career, before you enroll in a degree program. (NYTimes)