Is a master’s degree worth it?
Certainly, you’ve asked yourself that question. Most likely, you’ve had a difficult time determining whether or not a master’s degree’s cost creates a value that returns on the investment.
For certain jobs, such as doctors and lawyers, the vocation necessitates the need for a higher degree. But for most other occupations, a master’s degree is often not required. But obtaining a Master’s Degree can give job candidates an advantage of their competition. Some companies may prefer a master’s degree when taking promotions into consideration. In many cases, the master’s degree influences a higher paying job.
But debt, as misfortune has it, is a powerful way of shaving off revenue. If a master’s degree boosts your income by $20,000 annually, but your overwhelming accrued debt from your increased education costs eat that pay raise, would it have been wise to have passed on the promotion and master’s degree?
In short, yes, a master’s degree is worth it. But if you fail to determine the master’s degree’s ROI prior to enlisting in courses, you might be shooting yourself in the foot.
In this article, I’ll provide guidance regarding how to calculate grad school ROI.
Is A Master’s Degree Worth It? Begin With Your Potential Salary
In order to determine if your master’s degree will be worth the price tag, you need to determine some fundamental ROI influencers. This begins and ends with how much money you potentially make following the completion of your graduate studies.
While this may feel a lot like your reading tea leaves, if done correctly, you can get a good idea of how much a projected salary will pay in a given field. You’re obtaining a master’s degree because you have a plan for employment. Maybe you’re looking to get a promotion, maybe you are looking to enter the workforce for the first time. In either case, you need to conservatively project the income you’d earn over the years.
One good place to begin your research is Payscale.com. By clicking on the what am I worth button, you can gain a better understanding of your value after you complete your master’s program.
It’s important to perform salary due diligence regarding any employment vertical you’re considering. This number can help you gauge the value of a master’s degree.
Think First Year Salary and Future Year’s Salary
For this part of the equation to make sense, considerations need to be made for the first year’s salary and long-term salary. It only makes sense to understand the impact of your newly acquired debt. Larger payments in the first year can dramatically reduce interest accrual. Subsequent years can mean increased salary and shorten the payoff of the loan term.
You Need To Understand Location, Location, Location…
Many jobs are located in every city in America and around the world. But not all are. And beyond that, some people have reasons for wanting to live here, and not there. Maybe your family is from New York City and that’s where you will stay. Maybe Kansas City offers the most potential in your field and you plan to relocate there following grad school.
The cost of living in New York City is much higher than it is in Kansas City. That said, New York City jobs may pay more. But it may be easier to purchase property in Missouri or Kansas than in pricey Manhattan.
Once you’ve assessed your potential salary value, determine the local cost of living influence into the equation.
How Competitive Is Your Job Field?
You know conservatively how much a job in your field may pay. You understand that the cost of living in sunny Los Angeles is a bit more than suburban Dallas.
But how difficult is it to land your dream job?
Some fields are much more competitive than others. A super competitive field can cause income downtime when you first seek employment, or during transitional phases of your life.
Be confident that you’re newly acquired master’s degree will propel you to the top of hiring lists but don’t be so arrogant that you disregard intense competition for your desired job role.
How Much Does Your Master’s Program Cost?
You can assess every number you like, however, they all mean squat if you don’t understand the total costs of obtaining your master’s degree.
According to FinAid.org, students looking to complete a master’s program should expect to pay between $30,000 and $120,000.
That’s a huge disparity, but it’s also the most flexible variable in your master’s degree value assessment. You can’t change the average salary in your field, nor can you bring down the cost of living in San Francisco. But you can choose to attend more economical master’s programs.
By comparison, nearly every graduate-level program at West Liberty University costs less than those estimates provided by FinAid. Besides our Physician Assistant program, students enrolling at West Liberty can expect costs between $20,000 and $25,000.
Clearly, your master’s program of choice will matter. But in such respect, you could decide to take the route of a more affordable master’s program for the sake of lowering debt (given the average salary justifies the savings).
Closing Thoughts On Whether Or Not A Master’s Degree Is Worth It
The answer is, mostly, but only when you choose an affordable master’s program in a field where the average salary makes sense. It’s also wise to respect the location you’ll likely pursue your career and understand the cost of living aspect.
A master’s degree can dramatically improve your odds for career success. Many companies prefer job candidates with a master’s in the field. A little due diligence into the program’s costs and your field of choice can help propel you to the top.