Many of today's students want to know about the importance of graduate degrees in the modern job market. Depending on the profession you choose, an advanced degree could be a requirement for earning a high salary and obtaining a job you find satisfying. As a general rule of thumb, you should consider pursuing an advanced degree if your career is in a non-technical field, such as sociology or philosophy. A graduate degree isn't required for earning a high salary in a technical occupation, such as engineering or computer science, but it can increase your earning potential and open doors to new career opportunities.

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Professions that Require Advanced Education

Teachers, social workers, counselors, and therapists can increase their incomes and improve their employment opportunities with advanced degrees. A master's degree is typically needed to earn a high salary in occupations in the humanities and social sciences. Advanced education is also required for many careers in the natural sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and mathematics. While it's possible to become employed in these fields without an advanced degree, the job search could take longer than it would otherwise. Another drawback to seeking employment without a master's degree in low-demand fields is that it may be necessary to work in an unrelated occupation during the entry-level phase of a career. A math or English major with only a bachelor's degree could find work in a business-related field, but it would be difficult for them to find a job in a field directly related to math or English without advanced education.

High-Paying Jobs without an Advanced Degree

Some jobs offer excellent pay and many career opportunities for job seekers without advanced degrees. Business, accounting, computer science, petroleum engineering, and other technical occupations require only a bachelor's degree and enable workers to earn high salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for software developers with only a bachelor's degree is around $103,560. Financial traders can earn a potentially unlimited amount of money without taking the time to earn a master's degree. Traders are paid by commission, so the top-earning agents in the world's financial centers take home seven-figure salaries. In highly competitive financial and technical occupations, job applicants with advanced degrees can earn even higher salaries than their well-paid coworkers who have only bachelor's degrees. A trader with a Master of Business Administration degree can begin a career with a significantly higher base salary than a trader with only a bachelor's degree.

Future Outlook

As workers increasingly enter the job market with college degrees, education and professional credentials become more important. Many occupations, such as teaching and social work, can often provide only part-time or low-paid work for people without advanced education. As the number of job seekers with advanced degrees increases, the need to stay competitive by pursuing a master's degree or professional certificate grows. Most of the jobs that offer high salaries without advanced education are expected to grow faster than average over the next 10 years, according to the BLS.

The job market is constantly transforming, and job seekers have to keep up with the changes in order to make themselves attractive to employers. When it comes to earning graduate degrees, it's important to have a specific plan in mind and to choose a program that piques your interest.