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4 high-paying career paths every post-grad should consider

If you’re on the fence about pursuing your master’s, these salaries may sway your decision.

4 high-paying career paths every post-grad should consider

Continuing your college education is both a large time commitment and an expensive decision, but with the right degree and career path in mind, the payout could be well worth it.

Consider this: The unemployment rate is 2.8% for master’s degree holders, compared to 3.5% for undergraduates, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data. And on average, graduate degree holders earn about $80,000 a year compared to $60,000 for college graduates, says Andrew R. Hanson, senior research analyst at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in Washington, D.C. Not too shabby, right?

“Graduate degrees can give you a leg up in the job market over other workers competing for the same jobs,” says Hanson. Not to mention more than 60% of jobs nationally will require at least some postsecondary education by 2020, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found. Hanson notes the graduate degrees that will lead to the highest earnings are in STEM–science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Job security, a good salary and a promising career path...Do you need more convincing? It’s time to think about earning your graduate degree in these fields.


Engineering jobs always make the top of the list when calculating highest-paying jobs—but earning a master’s degree will largely increase your pay.

According to a study by Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering, if you’re looking to invest in your future as an engineer, obtaining a master’s degree could well be worth it. The study breaks down the top potential salaries depending on what engineering major you choose and they don’t disappoint:

Computer engineering: $111,000

Chemical engineering: $104,000

Geological and mining engineering and sciences: $101,000

Biomedical engineering: $92,000

Civil engineering: $87,000

Information technology

Occupations within information technology—such as web and software developers, computer and research scientists and computer network architects—will grow 12% from 2014 to 2024, the BLS reports. This is due to a greater emphasis on cloud computing, our continued demand for mobile computing and how much of our everyday items are connected to the Internet.

PayScale reports the following as top-paying master’s degrees in this field with the greatest salary potential:

Technology management: $125,000

Information technology management: $119,000

Information technology (MBA): $117,000

Management information systems: $117,000

Information technology: $104,000


A Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate degree aligns with some of the highest-paying careers out there, according to Steve Hernandez, director of career management for the Wharton Executive MBA program in San Francisco.

“In the business field, a graduate degree allows you to manage or be the boss, which is where the money is,” adds Hanson.

Depending on the major you select, an MBA can give your salary a serious boost. PayScale reports these MBAs have the greatest earning potential:

Strategy: $148,000

General and strategic management: $144,000

Finance and real estate: $143,000

Economics: $136,000

Finance and economics: $134,000

Health care

The BLS projects that health care employment will grow 19% by 2024, adding 2.3 million new jobs. Hanson says health care workers will need more education and training to acquire the specialized knowledge and skills employers are looking for.

If you want to follow the money, the key is pursuing a master’s degree in these areas, according to PayScale:

Nurse anesthesia: $159,000

Acute care nurse practitioner studies: $103,000

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner studies: $103,000

Physician assistant studies: $101,000

Adult nurse practitioner studies: $100,000

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