Even though the pandemic, the need for education hasn’t waned. People are still finding ways to start school one way or another. And why wouldn’t they? Even in the current economic climate, competition can be tricky.
Massive tech companies and other large corporations get an unfathomable amount of job applications every single year. Google alone gets roughly three million applicants every single year — a crazy amount if you think about it.
To add to that pressure, nowadays, people are starting businesses left and right — this SalesForce article talks about how people established over 4.4 million small businesses in 2020, up 24.3% since 2019.
With these levels of competition, it can be challenging to find success unless you can somehow set yourself apart. You can set yourself apart by finding a niche or adding more credentials to your resume, such as a graduate degree.
But is grad school essential?
There’s no doubt that grad school is something that many consider. However, if you’re still on the fence, this article may help.
Getting a master’s or doctoral degree has the potential to help you negotiate a higher salary. However, these increases vary depending on your industry. Although the national average increase seems to be around 25%, this number can go as low as 10% if your field isn’t too in demand.
According to PayScale, if you earn your master’s degree in history, your salary might only go up by 19%. On the other hand, earning an MBA can bump up your salary potential by 60-150%, depending on which program and school you went to.
Regardless of why you want to work towards a career change, going to school for a master’s or doctorate can help. Graduate programs often involve opportunities to learn through practice. This practical learning allows you to learn effectively while also giving you the experience to put on your resume when you finally start looking for work.
In graduate school, you also start building a network of your peers, which might allow you to get a headstart after graduation.
Before you start asking, “When should I apply to grad school?” — it’s important to note that you should always consider the job outlook for the field you’re interested in before deciding.
Check websites like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine whether the industry in question is seeing growth. Doing this might prevent future headaches — after all, you don’t want to graduate without any job opportunities available.
Chances are, you already have enough knowledge or experience in your passion. However, passion alone may not always be enough to get you hired. Graduate school can help validate your expertise with a degree while simultaneously teaching you more about your field of interest.
Earning your master’s degree or doctorate in a field demonstrates your interest and hard work. Graduate degrees involve a lot of research and practical experience. They may also allow you to get your name out there and build your credibility further.
One of the biggest deterrents to going to graduate school is that it costs a lot of money. If they can’t find financial aid, people often have to take out student loans that become a lifelong burden.
Grad school is also a considerable time investment. Many people often find themselves kissing their work-life balance goodbye if they are working while studying. Others might choose to quit their jobs and pursue their degree full-time, putting their career progress on hold.
If you’re just after the knowledge you’ll learn while in graduate school, there are so many alternative ways to gain this knowledge. You can save on costs by self-studying online or by buying courses on websites like Udemy and Coursera.
Additionally, if you’re the type to learn by doing, grad school might not always be the best for you. It might be better to take an apprenticeship or internship unless practical learning is already baked into your graduate program.
Only you can decide whether grad school is right for you and your specific situation in the end. However, there are a few things you can consider before you make your decision. Ask yourself questions like “what’s the potential return on investment?” Would the potential boost in salary be enough to justify the cost involved? Consider if you’re able to make the sacrifices for the commitment of earning your graduate degree.