Sunday, November 23, 2008

Graduate School: Now or Later?

One of the major factors in deciding to go to graduate school is whether or not it will help you advance your career. Not every field requires you to get an advanced degree to succeed. In fact, some fields specifically prefer real-world experience to extra schools. Here’s a look at the top careers that DO want to see something more than a Bachelor’s on your resume,

Get the Degree First

1. Doctor, Lawyer, Dentist, Pharmacist, etc.

These are the obvious ones. You can’t get a job in these fields without a specialized advanced degree. So, if you are sure this is the path you want to follow, school comes first.

2. Psychology

Whether you want to be a practicing psychologist or therapist, or simply want to teach and conduct research, graduate school is an important step to a successful career. Many undergraduates in this field go straight to graduate work and may get a research internship at the same time to build experience.

3. History

Unless you plan to teach history at the K-12 level, you probably want to go for graduate work. With an advanced degree, you can get a job working as a museum curator, college professor, archive researcher, and more. However, most of these openings do not accept applicants with only a Bachelor’s degree.

4. Architecture

Most high-end firms like to see the extra education. Ideally, you should look to get an educational working position while you study for your advanced degree. In the end, you will probably need a few years of such practice before you are ready to apply for various certifications.

Work First, Then Learn

1. Teaching

In some states, obtaining an advanced degree in education is required if you plan to be a public school teacher for a long time. Plus, having that extra education usually means a big boost in salary. Hoewver, you do not have to go straight to graduate school for this field. If you go into the teaching field first, you may find that you’re employer will subsidize your master’s education. Many school districts want their teachers to be better-trained. So, they offer incentives to earn a master’s while you work!

2. Business

Sure, getting your MBA is a major step in rising up the business ladder. However, most of the top MBA programs actually expect you to have spent several years in the working world first. Get your feet wet in the industry, make some great contacts, then go back to your schoolwork. In most cases, you can get your MBA while you work. Plus, like teaching, many employers will help you pay for your advanced degree.

3. Engineering

Thoughts about this one vary, but in general experience is more important than a degree. Get your hands dirty in the field before going back for graduate work. Again, many employers may help you pay for your program if you put in some labor first.

4. Politics

There are so many graduate degrees in the political and public poicy fields, and the one you choose to earn depends entirely on the path you want to follow. Get involved with work first and figure out where your interests really lie. This will make it easier to choose the right program for your career goals.

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