There’s no disputing that more education usually leads to a better job and higher pay. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the cash up front to pay for a graduate degree, so student loans are a necessity — and student loans must be paid back, often with budget-busting monthly payments. The changing jobs landscape means some previously “fool-proof” degrees, such as a JD, no longer guarantee a high-paying job that justifies student loan debt. If you are considering going back to school to prepare for a career change, here are five degrees that are worth the investment.
Master of Business Administration
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Everyone knows that an MBA from Harvard or Wharton or another world-class school is the ticket to an earnings gold mine, but an MBA from a smaller, less prestigious school still leads to a huge boost in pay and lifetime earnings, as well as a wealth of new career opportunities. MBAs are in demand as HR specialists, financial analysts, and IT managers across all industries and easily command six-figure salaries even early in their careers.
Master of Healthcare Administration
The Affordable Care Act changed the financial paradigm in healthcare delivery; new financial models have replaced the traditional fee-for-service reimbursement model. As a result, the focus is shifting toward the business side of healthcare, increasing the demand for healthcare administrators with an executive MHA. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an employment growth of 23 percent for this occupation, much higher than average. Master’s level healthcare administrators command salaries in the $110,000 to $150,000 range on average.
Master in Finance
People with a master in finance are prepared to enter the lucrative world of investment, banking, and business, snagging lucrative jobs such as controller, investment analyst, financial manager, and CFO. The financial crisis of 2008 and the Dodd-Frank legislation passed to prevent future banking crises has sharply increased demand for individuals with deep insight into finance and regulation. With employment growth in the mid-teens and average salaries for master’s level financial analysts in the $105,000 to $140,000 per year, the MFin degree is a worthwhile investment.
Master in Information Systems
After the high-profile hacks in the past few years — Sony, Target, Home Depot, for example — businesses are putting a bigger emphasis on information security and cybersecurity. IT has been a high-growth industry for decades, but today’s businesses are looking for candidates beyond the bachelor’s level who are knowledgeable about security. The BLS predicts growth for IT managers and IT security analysts of about 15 percent, higher than average. The salary range for MIS holders varies by industry, but most can expect to earn about $125,000 per year.
Master of Science in Health Informatics
It’s no surprise that healthcare degrees dominate the list; it’s hard to overstate the changes that healthcare reform has brought to the industry. The MSHI combines deep analytics and statistics with healthcare data; MSHI degree holders can work in a variety of places, such as pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, hospitals, and insurance companies. Health informatics employment growth is exploding, and average salaries are in the $125,000 to $150,000 range.
While advanced degrees aren’t always in your best financial interest, these five degrees will pay off in the long term.