Education

Can a Master’s Degree help you get Promoted? Here’s what to know

Is a master's degree worth it?

You’ve probably thought to yourself. If only I had a master’s degree I’d get promoted at work. You believe more degrees equals more pay.

But is it true? A master’s degree can be a great career move. 

But it may or may not be the right move for you. 

Whether a graduate degree will help you get promoted depends on your situation.

Here’s how to decide if a master’s degree will affect your chances for a promotion. 

When a Master’s Degree Can Help You Get Promoted

1. When your field is technical and requires higher education 

If you work in a highly specialized industry that requires higher education to move up. A master’s degree can help you get ahead.

For example in some STEM fields, a master’s is the new bachelor’s degree. It takes higher education and training to get ahead.

But the return on investment makes it worth it. STEM degrees rank high for advanced degrees offering the best return on investment, according to SimplyHired. 

Is this the case for your industry? Study the requirements to get ahead in your field. If education is a requirement v.s. a preference, a master’s degree might be worth it for you.

2. When you switch careers and don’t have enough experience

If you’re changing careers and don’t have enough experience, a master’s might help you move up. You’ll want to confirm that your new industry will accept a degree as experience. Some won’t.

Your transferable skills, relevant experience, and degree might give you enough to make a case for a promotion.

Going back to school can show employers that you’re committed to the new path. 

3. When others in the position you want have a master’s degree 

Take a look at the people in the roles you want. Do they have master’s degrees? Did the degree itself help them land leadership roles

If the answer is yes, having another degree might help your chances for a promotion. 

Here’s what you can do. Reach out to 2-3 people in the positions you want. Invite them to connect with you. Learn how the master’s degree played a role in their career advancement

Don’t assume that a degree alone got them to where they are. 

4. When you immigrate to a new country 

A master’s degree could help you get ahead if you immigrate to a new country and your current degree isn’t recognized there. 

Each country has its standards when it comes to education.

Study the educational requirements in your country. And make sure that any degrees you hold meet the bar.

Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from trusted mentors. Your goal is to have the minimum educational requirements to move up in your career field. 

 
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When a Master’s Degree Cannot Help You Get Promoted

1. When you don’t meet the minimum qualifications for the role you want 

A degree isn’t a quick fix. If you don’t meet the minimum qualifications to get ahead in your field. A master’s degree won’t change anything.  

Before looking into higher education, make sure you’ve studied the other requirements to move up in your field.

It doesn’t mean you have to check all the boxes. But at least have the basics down.  

2. When you have issues a degree can’t fix 

Be honest. Are there other things holding you back from getting ahead in your career? Think about the feedback you receive during performance evaluations.

Do you need to work on your soft skills? Are you presenting yourself as a leader?

Don’t assume that a degree is the only thing holding you back. If you haven’t received feedback at work. Ask for it.

If you have unresolved baggage dragging down your career. Take care of it first. Another degree isn’t going to help you without addressing these issues.

3. When your industry values experience over education 

If your industry wants you to have practical hands-on experience. A graduate degree alone won’t help you get ahead. 

Study the leaders in your industry. What patterns do you see? 

If they have more experience than education. This could be a sign that going back to school won’t lead to a promotion.

4. When the degree is irrelevant 

When you’re looking into degree programs. The program should be relevant to the positions you want. Not all master’s programs are equal.

Consider programs that will actually prepare you for the work you want to do. Another degree won’t lead to a promotion if the degree is irrelevant. 

Is a Master’s Degree Worth it?

Don’t feel pressured to get a master’s degree unless you’re confident it’ll take your career to the next level. Study the requirements to get ahead in your industry. 

Only commit to higher education when all signs point to a return on your investment. Hopefully, this helps you decide if a master’s degree is worth it for you. 

Join our community of thousands of future leaders worldwide if you’re new here! You get instant access to our Career Level Up Center when you subscribe. 

Over to You

Is a Master’s degree worth it for you? Head over to our comments section on social @netwerkmovement and let us know. Share this with someone thinking of going back to school!


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