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The Most Employable And High-Paid Masters Degrees

People have various reasons for studying a masters degree, including self-improvement and personal interest, but one of the main reasons is that obtaining masters can help you achieve career goals. In this article we’re going to look at some of the most employable and high-paid masters degrees, those ones that are likely to lead to well-paid jobs.

Masters degrees are an investment in your future

Most employable mastersWith the number of university graduates rising steadily every year, a bachelors degree may not always be enough to ensure that you stand out enough to land your dream role or give you access to your chosen career. Increasingly, people are taking on postgraduate studies to bolster their resumes and increase their chances of securing work, and more importantly going the distance in their chosen fields.

Whether you choose to pursue a masters degree straight after your undergraduate studies, or you’re returning to university to refine your skills after spending some time in the workplace, a master degree is an investment in your future.

It will improve your career prospects, enabling you to maximise the number of opportunities that come your way once you've gained the postgraduate qualification. 

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Why do employers value masters degrees?

Having a masters degree shows employers a few key things that will make you stand out from the pack.

Firstly, a postgraduate degree signals that you have specialist knowledge in the field that you are interested in working in. This means that you are better equipped to tackle higher level issues and complete more complicated tasks – this is a valuable asset in any field of work.

Secondly, most masters degrees involve a lot of independent research and engagement with your subject. Having a postgraduate degree indicates that you have strong analytical and writing skills, essential in just about every industry.  

Just as importantly, the qualification also indicates that you are truly keen to work in a particular role or field, because you have put in the time, effort and money to enhance your expertise in the field. This gives employers confidence that you will not only do a good job in a role, but that you’re more likely to stay for the long-haul and grow with the organisation, hence they will be more likely to want you on their team.

The most useful masters degrees

In some fields, the specific technical knowledge that a masters degree provides is necessary if you intend to specialise in a certain industry, for example in IT and computing. While in other fields, a masters degree is key to move up to leadership and executive roles in the field, for example an MBA degree. Additionally, some occupations require a postgraduate qualification as an entry requirement, for instance, a psychologist.

For certain career paths, the reality is that some masters degrees are more useful than others. In this section we compile the most useful masters degrees to help you advance in your career.

Masters degrees that lead to a professional qualification

In some instances, a masters degree is vocational, meaning it relates directly to an occupation or type of employment. A vocational masters degree gives you the qualification and experience you need to practise in a particular industry – in this case, a masters degree is not a ‘nice-to-have’ qualification, but actually essential to your career success.

This table illustrates some such fields that this applies to:

Masters degrees that lead to professional qualifications

Field

Masters degree

Masters degree helps you to

Education Administrator

Masters in Education

The masters is a foundational degree for career advancement in this field.

Equips you with knowledge on educational theory and leadership.

Allows you to lead other educators in management roles in an education organisation.
 

Occupational Therapist

Masters in Occupational Therapy

Equips you with the expertise on how to help patients who are recovering from illnesses or injuries regain the skills they have lost.

Allows you to know how to effectively assist people living with disabilities so they can work through the challenges in their daily lives and achieve as much normalcy as possible.
 

Speech-Language Pathologist

Masters in Speech Therapy

Equips you with the specialist knowledge to provide therapy to patients who are struggling with speech disorders. This could include guiding patients on how to form sounds to speak and communicate more effectively and helping patients with feeding problems.
 

Criminologist

Masters in Forensics, Criminal Justice or Psychology

Teaches you how to study and analyse crime and criminal behaviour effectively.

Provides you with an understanding of human psychology and why criminals make the choices that they do.

Equips you with the technical knowledge to evaluate forensic evidence from crime scenes.
 

Clinical Psychologist

Masters in Clinical Psychology

A Masters in Psychology provides you with the academic and technical knowledge to study the emotional, cognitive, and social processes people use to interact with others and their environments.

Qualifies you to work with patients and protect the mental health of individuals.
 

 

What are the most employable masters degrees?

This is the question that is at the back of every prospective postgraduate student’s mind. Given the resources that pursuing a masters degree requires, it is natural to want a solid ‘return’ on your investment in the form of strong employment prospects.

This table shows the latest official employment and salary statistics according to the most recent UK government postgraduate outcomes research for the top 20 most employable postgraduate subjects.
 

Postgraduate subject

Percentage of students in sustained employment

Median salary

PGCE

83.3%

£30,300

Architecture, building and planning

80.8%

£37,600

Education and teaching

79.4%

£36,900

MBA

79%

£62,000

Law

78.3%

£35,000

Business and management

78.2%

£41,200

Performing arts

77.8%

£22,500

Allied health

77.3%

£30,700

Health and social care

76.6%

£31,800

Media, journalism and communications

76.6%

£28,500

Nursing and midwifery

76%

£33,600

Engineering

75.8%

£41,200

Agriculture, food and related studies

75.3%

£28,500

Computing

73.7%

£38,300

Geography, earth and environmental studies

73.6%

£33,200

Medical sciences

73.3%

£35,000

Creative arts and design

73.2%

£22,600

General, applied and forensic sciences

72.9%

£28,100

Materials and technology

72.6%

£35,400

 

Here is a roundup of some of these masters degrees that are most likely to land you a great job, and some of the reasons why they are among the most employable masters degrees.

Most employable masters – teacherTeaching / Education – successfully completing a PGCE is a sure-fire way to enter a fulfilling career in teaching in the UK. This is a very in-demand area of employment, making it ideal for those who want job security. Studying a masters in education or a postgraduate qualification in another aspect of teaching and education is a great way to progress a career in this field and gain sought-after skills.

Computer Science – with the tech age in full flow and the UK focusing heavily on the development of the digital economy in the next decade or so, a computer science masters holder will understand the complexities of the principles of a computational machine’s functioning – essential in roles that require strong technical knowledge such an engineering and coding.

Physiotherapy – the UK offers some of the best-ranked masters degrees for physiotherapy, and healthcare challenges in the country and globally means that there is a growing demand for skilled healthcare professionals in the workforce. Professionals with skillsets in specialised fields of medicine like physiotherapy are especially valued because of the relatively small talent pool.

MBA / Business & Administration – an MBA is increasingly seen as essential for those seeking to rise the ranks and secure leadership and senior positions in fields such as finance, marketing, project management, human resources, logistics, sales and economics. An MBA-holder is viewed by employers as someone who can manage all aspects of a business operation, hence they are highly employable and seen as a valuable asset to organisations.

Law – graduating with a masters degree in law will be highly desired by employers because it shows a degree of specialisation and expertise in a particular area of the law – essential in a field that is highly-detail oriented. It also indicates that a candidate is keen to work in their area of law for the long term as they have demonstrated such a keen interest.

What are the highest paying masters degrees?

For many, the choice to move beyond a bachelors degree and further their studies with a masters degree is motivated strongly by the potential for a pay rise at their current organisation, or a higher starting salary at a new place of work.

This table shows the latest official salary statistics according to the most recent UK government postgraduate outcomes research for the top 10 highest paid masters degrees by subject according to the median salary.
 

Postgraduate subject

Median salary

MBA

£62,000

Economics

£49,300

Medicine and dentistry

£43,400

Engineering

£41,200

Business and management

£41,200

Mathematical sciences

£39,800

Pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy

£39,400

Computing

£38,300

Architecture, building and planning

£37,600

Education and teaching

£36,900

 

A masters degree is one of the proven ways to make yourself more employable and to land a high-paying job. There are numerous masters degrees available, with several funding options and study modes to suit every learner. If you’re keen to give yourself a leg up in the job market, a masters degree is a sure-fire way to go about it.

Let’s take a look at some of these higher paid masters degrees subjects in greater detail and explore some of the reasons why they do lead to the higher paid salaries.

Medical masters degreeMedicine – including neuroscience, drug discovery and the biomedical sciences, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. There is a rising demand for healthcare workers worldwide and health services cannot run efficiently with the work of doctors alone. Highly qualified allied medical professionals and masters degree holders who specialise in medical research are rewarded with attractive salary packages as well as working in a very fulfilling role.

Engineering & Technology – including aeronautical, automotive, electrical, mechanical and chemical engineering. Specialist engineering fields require very particular technical knowledge so having a masters in a specialist engineering field will likely fetch a large paycheck.

Mathematical sciences – including operational research and statistics. Applied mathematics skills are highly valued because they are essential for IT, accounting and business roles in companies and organisations across a range of industries. Someone with a graduate qualification in an area of applied sciences will command a rewarding salary.

Do all masters degrees cost the same?

The short answer is no, they do not, the longer answer paints a slightly more nuanced picture.

Generally, universities set their own fees for masters degrees, which means tuition fees can vary greatly depending on how the institution ranks in the university league tables, whether it’s known for being a specialist in the field you are keen to pursue a graduate degree in, and the operational costs of the program itself. For example, a humanities or social science masters course which would entail primarily classroom-based teaching tends to cost less than a course in the sciences that typically have higher operating costs due to laboratory fees and a higher cost of materials.

According to UCAS, a ballpark figure to keep in mind as a UK student, studying in the UK is from between £4,900 a year to over £30,000, with the average around £11,000 per year. Studying a masters degree in the UK will typically set non-UK students (EU and International students) back considerably more, starting from around £8,000 per year.

As you can see, a masters degree is a sizeable financial investment, but the good news is that there are numerous scholarships and bursaries available to help fund them, several of which come without bonds to any organisation, so they won’t restrict you after the course has finished.

Often, these awards can be combined to help students offset a larger total portion of the costs of pursuing a masters degree. For example, we offer x15 Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries worth £500 each that prospective students are eligible to apply for wherever they are from, regardless of where they want to study, as long as they have an offer from a recognised university. This £500 bursary can be used to top up other postgraduate funding.

Scour universities’ postgraduate funding pages for scholarship options provided by the university and external organisations to figure out the financing options that work best for you.

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