Just because you have a master's degree doesn't mean the payoff for your career will be higher. In fact, many master's degrees do not result in high financial returns but instead provide access to an exciting field or position. Of course, depending on what type of degree you choose to pursue, it's possible to have a high-paying career in a field you love. Choosing a high-paying master's degree is especially important if you're incurring debt. Many science-based master's degrees result in high salaries, but others, such as a master's degree in business administration, are also a safe bet. While entry-level pay can be average, five or 10 years after graduation it's possible to earn well into the six figures with a master's degree.
Here are eight high-paying master's degrees to consider:
Degree: Master's in engineering management
Sample job: Engineering manager
A postgraduate degree that bridges the gap between management concepts and engineering technology allows science buffs to learn the business side of the field. Students get quantitative analysis tools with a business twist to help companies get concepts off the ground.
Degree: Master's in physics
Sample job: Physicist
Steeped in science with practical applications, a postgraduate physics degree can open the doors to research and development. Areas include quantum physics, solar physics and atmospheric physics. As an alternative, applied physics master's programs have a bigger focus on skills needed for jobs at large corporations.
Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy
Sample job: Pharmacist
Pharmacists in the U.S. must complete a Pharm.D. degree, instead of a master's degree, before being allowed to practice. The four-year degree helps pharmacists develop an understanding of prescription drugs and their influences on the human body. Graduates who hold Pharm.D. degrees can often teach college-level classes in pharmacology.
Degree: Master's in petroleum engineering
Sample job: Petroleum engineer
This degree prepares engineers for various areas of the petroleum energy industry. Engineers learn such things as how to work with mining and drilling systems and how to apply mathematical principles to design. Many petroleum engineers land jobs at the world's largest energy companies and have great perks.
Degree: Master of Business Administration
Sample job: Chief executive officer
This master's degree stresses real-world application, often preparing grads to go into the corporate sector. Respected in all areas of business, an MBA can help you jump up a few rungs on the corporate ladder; many business schools provide valuable recruiting opportunities.
Degree: Master's in computer science
Sample job: Database administrator
Sought after in the current tech boom, those with high-level experience have plenty of opportunities to work for some of the biggest names in the business. Students develop applications for areas such as computer security, computer games, databases and robotics. Specializing within the program can further improve one's job outlook.
Degree: Master's in human resources management
Sample job: Human resources manager
Working with job candidates to find the right fit in a company and dealing with personnel issues take an acute grasp of psychology and business know-how. Human resources managers must learn to deal with issues quickly and efficiently while keeping company goals in mind. In many organizations, HR managers play a vital role in helping the company function.
Degree: Master's in economics
Sample job: Economist
Working with economic theory, those with a postgraduate economics degree have plenty of options. Theory-focused degrees help prepare students for doctoral work in the field. Other economics degrees have real-world applications and help students move to roles in public finance or agricultural economics.
*Salary estimates from CBSalary.com.
Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder. Follow @Careerbuilder on Twitter.
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