We all know the look. It’s the one we get after telling someone we majored in Communications. It’s the so-what-are-you-supposed-to-do-with-that look. And if the answer isn’t “teach”, then you know there’s an even worse look coming. The job market hasn’t been all that kind in recent years, leaving many asking the same question: what am I supposed to do now?
Is Another Degree Worth It?
At this point, you’ve probably already considered getting your Master’s degree at least once. Wouldn’t it make sense that if your Bachelor’s gave you a solid foundation of understanding; your Master’s would give you the specific tools needed to build the rest of your career?
The short answer is: it depends. Before deciding whether or not you should go to grad school, you first need to consider why you’re going to grad school. There are some great resources out there that will weigh out some of pros/cons of getting your Master’s degree.
Keep in mind that with every advantage, a counter-argument can probably be made. Take, for instance, this article on “The Right (and Wrong) Reasons to Get a Master’s in Communications”. While acquiring specific communications expertise may be a good reason to consider a Master’s degree, it’s not the only way to acquire this expertise. Other options outside of grad school could measure up to the same level of experience — without the high price tag and drastic change to your schedule.
What Am I Getting Out of This?
If you want to get a Master’s degree to leverage your degree to get a better job, you should ask yourself what you really mean by “a better job.” Does better mean a higher paycheck, or does it mean finding a job that relates more closely to your skills?
- A Higher Paycheck
In 2014, Forbes partnered with Payscale.com in collecting mid-career data for 45 of the more popular Master’s degrees. This data was then averaged with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) projected employment growth for jobs associated with each degree. The end result?
Journalism was ranked as the #1 worst Master’s degree for jobs right now with a -13% projected employment rate for job-associated growth, and a mid-career median pay of $72,800.
If you were thinking that maybe a more broad degree would be better, say in English, consider the fact that English was ranked as the #9 worst — with only an 8% projected growth rate and a mid-career median pay of $66,900.
- More Relatable to My Skills
While the market may not meet you on salary, the job prospects out there for someone with a Master’s in Communications should be plentiful. How could having your Master’s not get you a better job?
Chereen Zaki, a contributor on Forbes Personal Finance page, thought the same thing. She had just finished completing her Master’s in Communication at Georgetown University and was in the process of interviewing at a large, successful social media company. When she mentioned her degree and the skills that it provided her, she was met with this response:
“Uh, sorry but we never asked you to get your Master’s.”
Needless to say, she wasn’t offered the job. The rest of her piece continues to describe the struggles she faced, saddled with a degree that seemingly did her more harm than good. While this article only reflects Zaki’s personal experience, it does illustrate the issue with assuming a Master’s degree will guarantee you a job, regardless of how qualified you think you are.
What Are Some Other Options?
Thanks to the technological revolution, there are now hundreds of ways to further your education without having to enroll in a graduate school program. Recently, there’s been a lot of coverage on the role of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs and their role in the future of education.
Coursera, a free MOOC, offers over 900 courses from 118 different top university/college partners, including Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, and University of California, Irvine. Courses range from microeconomics, to business management and even pre-calculus. Once a user selects a course, they have the autonomy to shape their own schedule and can even receive Verified Certificates of completion.
If you’re looking for something more specialized to your particular job responsibilities, online training certificate programs may be a better choice. Google currently offers an Analytics Academy for users looking for a more comprehensive understanding of Google Analytics and data analysis.
Microsoft offers certificate programs for their office applications, with varying levels of expertise. Adobe offers an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) certification for their entire suite of programs, including ways to recertify over time.
Where Does This Leave Me?
Unless your next job requires a Master’s degree, as in the case of education, there doesn’t seem to be a truly motivating reason to commit yourself to another degree just yet — especially with the resources available online, both through MOOCs and online certificate programs.
Additionally, utilizing online sources paired with your real world experience can keep the information current and reflective of real-world trends, while traditional classroom settings run the risk of reiterating outdated material.
And one more thing: the next time someone tries to shoot you the look when you talk about your degree, pull a Taylor Swift and just shake it off.
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