Many students choose to pursue a graduate degree to have access to better or higher-paying employment opportunities. However, for some careers, a specific skill set or certification is more valuable—and less expensive—than a graduate degree.
Continue reading to find out more about general salary trends at different degree levels, as well as the job outlook and tips for finding a good job after graduate school.
How Much Can I Earn with a Graduate Degree?
Your income potential will largely depend on your field of study. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that individuals who hold a graduate degree earn a higher weekly wage than less-educated workers do.
According to the BLS, those with a master’s degree earn the lowest wages among graduate degree holders , and those who hold a professional graduate degree earn the highest wages. Students with a doctoral degree earn slightly less than those with a professional degree.
What Is the Job Outlook for Grad Students?
Although a graduate degree is not a guarantee that you will find employment in your field, earning a graduate degree will make you more competitive in the job market.
The BLS predicts that jobs requiring a master’s degree will see a higher percentage of growth than the average for all fields (13.8% vs. 6.5%). However, to get a true picture of the growth trends in your field, search for data that is specific not only to your general discipline, but to the career you want within that field.
Ask professionals in your field what niche specializations are likely to see the most growth and whether that growth is sustainable.
How Do I Find Employment After Graduation?
The transition to life after grad school can be stressful.
Even after the hard work of earning a graduate degree, some students struggle to find a job. Not only do you have to find a job opportunity that matches your strengths and interests, but you also have to find a way to stand out from the crowd and land an interview. It can be overwhelming to think of the time and money you’ve invested in school and not be able to use that knowledge to earn a living.
Continue reading to discover some tips that will help you land your first job out of grad school.
Tips for landing a job with your graduate degree
Tip 1: Create a resume
Before you actually begin contacting potential employers and applying for positions, you need to create a resume.
A resume is a representation of you, your education, and your experiences. It should be brief and contain only the information that interests potential employers.
If you have professional work experience, start by listing your work history, with your most recent job first. Remember that internships, externships, assistantship positions, and other professional experiences should be listed, too.
On the other hand, if you went straight through school and don’t have extensive employment history, you should emphasize your education and your research experience during grad school. List your educational accomplishments, including GPA, awards, and publications, as well as leadership positions you held during your undergraduate and graduate education.
When drafting your resume, make sure you do not format the content in paragraph form. Employers want to be able to quickly scan a resume, and they may rule out candidates whose resumes are not easily readable.
Tip 2: Network
Networking is often overlooked by new grads. Networking with your college professors and your peers is an excellent way to find leads and meet potential new employers. Oftentimes, job openings are not publicly advertised, so there is a strong chance that you are not even aware of all the job possibilities out there.
Many new graduates land a job by word of mouth. Your professors, classmates, and even mentors who helped you along the way may have contacts with employers.
Also, take advantage of networking sites like LinkedIn.com, where you can create a professional profile and post a resume for potential employers to review.
Tip 3: Utilize your school’s career center
Most colleges, even online schools, have a career center where soon-to-be or recent graduates can seek career advice or access job postings. New grads can often feel lost and not sure where to start, so this is an excellent free resource where you can seek advice and counseling.
Many colleges and universities even hold job fairs, which present unique opportunities to meet professionals who are looking for qualified interns and employees.
Tip 4: Join professional associations
Professional associations offer great field-specific career resources. Every field has professional associations or organizations that bring together professionals who are looking for opportunities to collaborate and grow in their field. These associations present one of the best avenues for networking.
By joining a professional association, you can access job postings and take advantage of useful resources like continuing education opportunities, resume-writing advice, and field-specific publications.
To find these professional associations, ask your professors what associations in your field are most valuable for new graduates.
Search online specifically for associations that accept students and those who are interested in getting a foot in the door.
Tip 5: Practice your interview skills
When you begin your hunt for a new job after grad school, you can expect to participate in multiple interviews with several professionals for every job you apply to. You may even be required to go through a series of interviews with top executives. In order to go into each interview with confidence, you’ll need to be prepared.
- Try to predict what types of questions will be asked of you, and practice your answers.
- Make sure your first impression is a good one.
- Find someone to assist you with a mock interview so that you have to clearly articulate your answers to someone before the real interview.
- Remember that you are interviewing the employers just as much as they are interviewing you.
- You need to make sure the job will be a right fit for you, so do not be afraid to ask questions.
- By having a list of thoughtful, professional questions ready, your interviewers will know you are serious about finding the right fit.