How to Know if an Advanced Degree is Right for Your Career
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Pros and cons list drawn with chalk on a blackboard, for and against argument
By Kara M.

College graduates who have found their dream jobs may assume their college days are over. But chances are they might later decide that graduate study can further their careers. How do you know if you should think about going back to college for a master’s degree? Here are a few things to consider about your current position.

Job satisfaction.
Many new college graduates eagerly accept the first decent job offer they receive. Then, as reality sinks in over time, they begin to think about the possibility of working for other companies or even pursuing a different career. For example, a nurse who burns out from hospital bedside care might decide to adjust her career focus. Enrolling in graduate school, she decides to earn an advanced paralegal degree so she can become a nurse expert—or at least learn the legal aspects of medical litigation. Shifting from hands-on patient care to in-office client care meets her need for intellectual stimulation and a quest to protect patients’ legal rights, not just their health.

Personal growth.
A post-graduate position often seems exciting and meaningful at first. But with time, some jobs become predictable or even boring. An employee can feel stifled and may become less productive. For example, a business executive may tire of paperwork and motivational speeches. She might long to explore his creative side. Obtaining a master’s degree in graphic design or mass communication can expand opportunities for creative interactions, both in-house and with other businesses or clients.

Lifestyle changes.
College grads who settle into career positions often eventually marry and have children. The social work position that seemed so promising never really took off, lacking promotions and paying little. Going back to college for an advanced degree can open doors in related fields, such as counseling or administering community services for the indigent or elderly. Options begin to multiply with a master’s degree under your belt.

When a person employed in a well-liked job decides to relocate or is forced to due to a marriage or military assignment, the same type of work may not be available at the new destination. Additional education may be helpful in finding related work that requires an advanced degree.

Working towards a graduate degree is almost always a plus for anyone’s career. Unexpected events may force a job change, or they may get tired of doing the same work. A master’s degree helps to open additional career doors.

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