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15 Master’s Degrees That Pay the Most

So while most college graduates would immediately take the leap and hunt for job opportunities, some would choose an arduous path and continue their education for greater academic recognition and proficiency. Completing a bachelor’s degree is a hard-earned achievement worthy of celebrating and gives more credibility to one’s resume. However, it can’t change the fact that in a society driven by a fast-paced race, one must hold more cards than necessary to keep track of a competitive global marketplace.

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Master’s degrees are the next step to the academic advancement that gives qualification to people who have successfully passed a high level of expertise in a specific field of study. It can usually range from 1 to 4 years of study and research, depending on the chosen area. Based on the Council of Graduate Schools, they have received more than 350,000 applications for master’s degree programs in U.S. colleges and universities for 2019. A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of U.S. adults who are master’s degree holders has doubled to 21 million since 2000.

Where can a Master’s Degree Take You

According to the timeline projection of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 2.4 million jobs will demand a graduate degree as required by employers. The increase in the demand means that students who earned a master’s degree have an earning potential that exceeds those with just bachelor’s degrees and associate degrees. This is a practical upshot from these academic programs that are so competitive and rigorous. They also reported an expected increase in jobs that require a master’s degree by 18 percent from 2012 to 2022.

Here are some benefits of earning a Master’s degree: 

Increase Pay – Almost all master’s degree holders have higher salary offers since they have more knowledge and are more in-depth in their chosen field. They are more trusted to take on higher job positions, thus the bigger difference in paycheques. 

Faster Promotion – Earning a master’s degree can open more opportunities for you, especially when seeking higher workplace positions. Some may wait three to five years of employment before they land on a high-tier position, but for master’s degree holders, promotion can take off as early as six months into the job. 

Expanded Network – As you have an advantage in securing a high spot for professional work roles, your chance to meet the big names in the same industry is very much available. This can help you find more relevant experiences to strengthen your work knowledge and widen your horizons in seeking better opportunities.

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So what are the Highest Paying Master’s Degrees?

This guide can help you learn more about the different programs for master’s degrees and the potentially high-paying lucrative careers that a degree holder can land upon graduating.

NURSING

A master’s degree in Nursing is popular and widely sought globally because of the undeniable demand for nursing professionals. One of the best benefits of finishing a Master of Science in Nursing is the increased pay. Generally, a person can expect to receive a salary ranging from $62,000 to $100,000 each year. Moreover, by obtaining an MSN degree, there is a higher probability that the holder will take an administrative or managerial role that is less physically exhausting and adheres to a 40-hour work-week with fewer hours. Another gain from this degree is the variety of career options such as becoming an instructor and a specialization in a particular area.

Top Master’s in Nursing Potential Careers and salaries:

Nurse Anesthetist

Degrees That Pay the Most - 2

Average Annual Income: $ 174,790
Projected Job Openings: 2,900

A Nurse Anesthetist is a highly trained practice nurse who takes the role of administering and making the anesthesia adjustments, monitoring the patient’s vital signs (before, during, and after) to oversee the patient’s recovery.

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Nurse Practitioner

Degrees That Pay the Most - 3

Average Annual Income: $ 109,820
Projected Job Openings: 24,200

Recently, a growing population of Americans favored Nurse Practitioners (NPs) as health partners. These nurses are primarily trained in the promotion of health management and disease prevention. They are also allowed to diagnose and attend to patients with acute, episodic, and chronic ailments. Also, they may order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests such as x-rays and laboratory tests. They are even allowed to prescribe medications.

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Nurse Midwife

Degrees That Pay the Most - 4

Average Annual Income: $ 105,030 
Projected Job Openings: 500

A nurse-midwife or Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is a trained nurse who can work independently or as part of a healthcare team that provides well-woman gynecological care. This specialized personnel is licensed to diagnose and assist patients during pre-conception, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

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Nurse Educator

Degrees That Pay the Most - 5

Average Annual Income: $ 74,600
Projected Job Openings: 7,200

A nurse educator is specialized in demonstrating and teaching patient care in classrooms, hospitals, and medical centers. They also work as instructors to new nurses or nursing students and as professors in institutional research facilities.

BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

A master’s degree in business administration is designed to train and educate Finance, Human Resources, Strategy, Operations Management, and Marketing areas. Due to international popularity, many institutions have offered a diverse range of MBA programs that give graduates the flexibility to a competitive business world. Many pursue this degree because of the high-paying array of available opportunities. The annual median starting salary for MBA graduates is $115,000.

Top Master’s in Business Administration Potential Careers and Salaries:

IT Manager

Degrees That Pay the Most - 6

Average Annual Income: $146,360
Projected Job Openings: 48,100 

IT Managers’ primary responsibilities include planning, coordinating, and directing all kinds of computer-based work in different organizations. They are relied on to monitor and determine computer-related initiatives across an organization to meet business needs. Although a bachelor’s degree holder can land this job, MBA graduates specializing in technology are more prioritized to secure a full career potential.

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Marketing Manager

Degrees That Pay the Most - 7

Average Annual Income: $136,850
Projected Job Openings: 24,600

Marketing Managers oversee product development and are responsible for selling the company’s products. They lead in expanding the company by planning, directing, developing pricing strategies that won’t compromise customer satisfaction, coordinating marketing policies and programs, managing budgets, and identifying new clients. MBA graduates are very common applicants for this job. There is a lot of potential and opportunity in this specific field.

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Sales Manager

Degrees That Pay the Most - 8

 Average Annual Income: $ 126,640
Projected Job Openings: 35,300

A sales manager’s workload includes advising customers on technical or procedural issues, resolving customer complaints, supervising employees, approving expenditures, and consult with organizational members to accomplish workloads. Most of these are tackled on MBA programs which upgrades a professional’s work management skills. Although having an MBA is generally not a requirement to land a sales management job, it gives MBA job seekers a more competitive advantage in the job market. Furthermore, another perk of this role is travel, which is often required for employees at higher positions.

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General and Operations Manager

Degrees That Pay the Most - 9

Average Annual Income: $ 100,780
Projected Job Openings: 204,400

The main responsibilities included in this line of work are related to human resources (e.g., hiring), finance (e.g., budgeting), and project management. They coordinate the day-to-day processes of businesses and make sure that they oversee several departmental functions.  

COMPUTER SCIENCE

A master’s degree in Computer Science teaches aspiring students to learn advanced math and statistics and computer coding through coursework such as software development, computer language theory, computer architecture, programming, and networking. Those with master’s degrees in computer science work in technology departments, government agencies, and non-profit institutions. They are also trained to master programming languages, research and develop uses for artificial technology, or create organizational and security systems.

Top Master’s in Computer Science Potential Careers and Salaries:

Computer and Information Research Scientist

Degrees That Pay the Most - 10

Average Annual Income: $122,840 
Projected Job Openings: 3,000

Computer and information research scientists formulate new approaches to computing technology and find innovative improvements for existing technology. They explore fundamental computing issues and develop theories and models to address complex business, science, medicine, and other fields. They also devise new computing languages and methods to improve how people deal with computers. They also analyze their experiments’ results and publish their findings in academic journals and present their findings at conferences.

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Computer Hardware Engineer

Degrees That Pay the Most - 11

Average Annual Income: $117,220
Projected Job Openings: 4,900

Computer hardware engineers typically are responsible for designing and testing new computer hardware and creating schematics of computer equipment to be built. Part of their line is to analyze the test results and modify the design as needed. They also update existing computer equipment to comprehend the new software and supervise the manufacturing process for computer hardware.

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Computer Network Architect

Degrees That Pay the Most - 12

Average Annual Income: $ 112,690
Projected Job Openings: 10,000

Computer network architects create plans and build data communication networks, such as local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. They must have extensive knowledge of the organization’s business objectives to showcase specific plans to the management and explain why they are in the organization’s best interest to pursue them. Part of their job description is to upgrade system software and hardware, such as adaptors or routers, and to research new networking technologies to determine what would best escort their organization in the future.

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Software Developer

Degrees That Pay the Most - 13

Average Annual Income: $107,510
Projected Job Openings: 131,400

Software developers work hand in hand with computer programmers to create technical systems we use in daily operations. Developers are taking the lead on determining a product’s core software functionality to get suitable and efficient designs. With the continuous advancement in technologies, more jobs in the computer science field are poised to grow, and individuals with master’s degrees will be armed with advantages for these career opportunities.

ECONOMICS

These programs educate students on quantitative and qualitative economic analysis for solving problems in various industries. Graduates are expected to have a solid understanding of financial practices, principles, and theories with excellent communication skills. They are also trained to apply significant cognizance of how to expound data and work out logical conclusions. This work line often goes for the federal government, development agencies, technical consulting services, scientific research, and finance or insurance companies.

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Top Master’s in Economics Potential Careers and Salaries:

Financial Manager

Degrees That Pay the Most - 14

Average Annual Income: $129,890 
Projected Job Openings: 59, 600

Financial managers are the key players in overseeing the financial health of an organization. They create financial and activity reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies for their organization’s long-term financial goals. A master’s in economics greatly influences the candidacy for a position in this field. Possible tasks include:

  • Monitoring financial details.
  • Making five-year to 10-year plans.
  • Devising plans to reduce costs and maximize profits.
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Economist

Degrees That Pay the Most - 15

Average Annual Income: $115,192
Projected Job Openings: 1,600

Economists generally study qualitative and quantitative economic analysis of fields, such as development, education, health, and the environment. In comparison, some focus their study on the cost of products, healthcare, energy, employment levels, business cycles, taxes, inflation, and exchange or interest rates. They typically write academic journals that conduct surveys, gather and analyze data, interpret research results, and recommend solutions to economic issues.

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Actuary

Degrees That Pay the Most - 16

Average Annual Income: $ 108,350
Projected Job Openings: 2,000

Actuaries can both benefit from a master’s in Economics and Finance. They are assessors of the financial costs of death, sickness, an accident, or a natural disaster. They use statistics, mathematics, and economic theories to design and test insurance policies and investments to help clients develop guidelines for the reduced damage cost. It is implied that actuaries are essential to insurance companies, government agencies, or any organization that includes a risk management wing.

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Financial Analyst

Degrees That Pay the Most - 17

Average Annual Income: $81,590
Projected Job Openings: 38,600

Financial analysts usually favor work in the private sector, offering investment and financial advice to both individuals and businesses. They are in charge of creating investment portfolios that require excellent knowledge of the stock market and bonds. An entry-point for this job only requires a bachelor’s degree but having a master’s degree gives a better claim for a higher advantage.

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Market Research Analyst

Degrees That Pay the Most - 18

Average Annual Income: $63,790 
Projected Job Openings: 84,200

These analysts mainly study an aspect of the market, examine potential sales of a product or service, and then provide a report. They aid companies in monitoring what products people want, the target population, and the cost. Having a master’s in economics can make a huge boost, demonstrating higher quantitative and research capabilities.

FINANCE

Professionals with a master’s degree in finance usually align their careers in various fields, including corporate finance, investment banking, accounting, and private or wealth management sectors. Students are highly trained to develop the skills beneficial to pursue management and administrative roles in the finance world.

Top Master’s in Finance Potential Careers and Salaries:

Chief Financial Officer

Degrees That Pay the Most - 19

Average Annual Income: $184,460
Projected Job Openings: 13,900

This is a high executive position that manages and oversees the financial actions of a corporation. Duties include monitoring cash flow and financial planning, analyzing its financial stability, and proposing corrective actions.

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Financial Advisor

Degrees That Pay the Most - 20

Average Annual Income: $87,850
Projected Job Openings: 19, 200

Many Financial Advisors pursue either master’s degree in finance or administration to get certified. This is then followed by a required completion of the Certified Financial Planner Exam. They provide advice on investments, insurance, and expenses. While others work for an organization within the finance department or in insurance companies, most operate independently and oversee a client’s finances, including mortgages, college savings, taxes, investments on estates, and insurances.

ENGINEERING

Master of Engineering differs from Master of Science in engineering because it offers more specialized, professional degrees, emphasizing day-to-day world applications for professional certification more than theory and research.

Top Master’s in Engineering Potential Careers and Salaries:

Computer Engineers

Degrees That Pay the Most - 21

Average Annual Income: $ 117,220
Projected Job Openings: 4,900

Computer hardware engineers are the people behind new computer hardware. They specialize in the research, development, update, and testing of computer systems and components such as circuit boards, processors, memory devices, routers, and networks.

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Aerospace Engineers

Degrees That Pay the Most - 22

Average Annual Income: $116,500
Projected Job Openings: 3,900

Aerospace engineers specialize primarily in designing commercial and military aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and military missiles and rockets. Also, they conceptualize and test prototypes to make sure that they function accordingly.

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Environmental Engineers

Degrees That Pay the Most - 23

Average Annual Income: $88,860 
Projected Job Openings: 3,700

There is a blend of engineering, chemistry, soil science, and biology principles in this particular field to create solutions for environmental problems. They address primary global issues, such as unsafe drinking water, climate change, and ecological sustainability. They also facilitate the improvement of recycling, public health, waste disposal, and pollution control.

PHYSICAL THERAPY

Earning a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy usually translates to achieving a higher salary, making students find no employment issues. A master’s degree may also give students more prestigious options for professional roles. Their expertise in anatomy and physical intervention strategies can help them catch jobs as recreational therapists, athletic trainers, and exercise physiologists.

Top Master’s in Physical Therapy Potential Careers and Salaries:

Physical Therapist

Degrees That Pay the Most - 24

Average Annual Income: $89,440
Projected Job Openings: 15, 200

Physical therapists help people with mobility problems to improve functional movement. They guide patients and plan exercises or stretching maneuvers that are suitable for the patients’ needs.

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Exercise Physiologist

Degrees That Pay the Most - 25

Average Annual Income: $49, 170
Projected Job Openings: 1,400

Exercise physiologists develop the best treatment plans for patients with chronic conditions and mainly focus on cardiovascular or pulmonary health.

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Athletic Trainer

Degrees That Pay the Most - 26

Average Annual Income: $48,440
Projected Job Openings: 2,200

These professionals specialize in treating muscle and bone injuries for people who play sports. Athletic trainers are not limited to athletes; they can also work with children and soldiers. Master’s degree holders have the edge in this category as employers prefer them more. Also, most states require athletic trainers to hold licensure.

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Recreational Therapist

Degrees That Pay the Most - 27

Average Annual Income: $48,220
Projected Job Openings: 1,200

These professionals create program treatments for people suffering from disabilities and injuries using recreational programs like swimming, arts and crafts, music, and dance. Such programs may also be used to help patients with their anxiety or depression. Most employers favor recreational therapists with certifications.

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Occupational Therapy

Degrees That Pay the Most - 28

Average Annual Income: $84,950
Projected Job Openings: 10,300

Occupational therapy is an integral part of treatment for people with various irreversible illnesses and disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, autism, or limb loss. Occupational therapists typically have a master’s degree in occupational therapy because all states require occupational therapists to be licensed.

HEALTHCARE MANAGEMENT

Nowadays, healthcare management is a popular area of study because of the rapidly changing population trends and high demands for such professionals. This terminal degree for healthcare professionals mainly focuses on a business-oriented approach and analytical management within the healthcare industry.

Top Master’s in Healthcare Management Potential Career and Salary:

Health Manager

Degrees That Pay the Most - 29

Average Annual Income: $100,980
Projected Job Openings: 133,200

Professionals in this field are qualified to handle duties related to the administrative rather than the clinical side of healthcare. These include overseeing budgets, managing staff, organizing protocols, and staying on top of changing regulations and industry updates. Health Managers usually work in hospitals, nursing homes, private healthcare offices, and community-based organizations.

PETROLEUM ENGINEERING

Masters of Science in Petroleum Engineering is an advanced degree associated with a successful career in the petroleum engineering field. These engineers are often compensated well for their work, both because of the physical demand and the high-risk nature.

Top Master’s in Petroleum Engineering Potential Careers and Salaries:

Petroleum Engineer

Degrees That Pay the Most - 30

Average Annual Income: $137,720
Projected Job Openings: 2,100

In this specialty design, engineers develop methods specifically for extracting oil and gas from the deposits below the Earth’s surface and older wells.

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Petroleum Pump System Operators

Degrees That Pay the Most - 31

Average Annual Income: $74,180
Projected Job Openings: 3,800

This role actively does the manual work of checking and monitoring petroleum processing units. They mainly check regulation in oil flow, pumping mechanisms, and systems. 

MATHEMATICS

Master of Science in Mathematics graduates pursue careers that focus on research, education, hard science, and computer technology. They specialize in the use of mathematical data, statistics, and risk assessment.

Top Master’s in Mathematics Potential Careers and Salaries:

Mathematician

Degrees That Pay the Most - 32

Average Annual Income: $105,030
Projected Job Openings: 200

Mathematicians focus on areas that research fundamental mathematics or apply mathematical techniques to science, management, and other fields.

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Statistician

Degrees That Pay the Most - 33

Average Annual Income: $91,160
Projected Job Openings: 4,900

Statisticians with master’s degrees are professionals who specialize in applying statistical methods and models to real-world problems. They conduct studies that gather, analyze, and interpret data that help businesses in the decision-making processes. Statisticians are valuable employees in government, business, health, environmental sciences, and physical sciences.

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Operations Research Analyst

Degrees That Pay the Most - 34

Average Annual Income: $84,810
Projected Job Openings: 9,600

An operations research analyst uses mathematical expertise and analytical methodology in aiding businesses and organizations to solve problems and make decisions. They also participate in advising managers on how to allocate resources, set prices, and schedule production.

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

Master’s in public administration mold students to become problem-solvers who resolve contemporary challenges in local, national, and global societies. Others, with this degree, focus on budget and fiscal issues, urban planning, fundraising, public affairs, communications, and waste management. This degree helps the holder land impactful work at government or private agencies, non-profit organizations, and public administration companies.

Top Master’s in Public Administration Potential Careers and Salaries:

Political Scientist

Degrees That Pay the Most - 35

Average Annual Income: $122,220
Projected Job Openings: 700

These are individuals that analyze the structure and operation of governments, as well as various political entities. They may conduct public opinion surveys, oversee election results, or decipher public documents.

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Public Relations Manager or Fundraising Managers

Degrees That Pay the Most - 36

Average Annual Income: $116,180
Projected Job Openings: 7,600

People or organizations hire public relations managers to help them plan and direct material creation to enhance their public image. While fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization.

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Training and Development Manager

Degrees That Pay the Most - 37

Average Annual Income: $113,350
Projected Job Openings: 3,700

Training and development managers oversee training processes, staff, and budgeting structures. They are responsible for creating or selecting course content and materials for training programs and ensure that they are relevant.

PHYSICIANS ASSISTANT

Degrees That Pay the Most - 39

Average Annual Income: $112,260
Projected Job Openings: 11,400

Students with a Master of Science in Physician Assistant are qualified to provide patient care with counseling, examinations, diagnoses, prescribing medications, and carrying out treatments. They can also highlight their specialization in a specific area like genetics, immunology, and pharmacology.

APPLIED PHYSICS

This field specializes in the correlation between space, time, energy, and matter. Master of Science in Physics specializes in the following subjects:

  • Astrophysics 
  • Biophysics 
  • Biophotonics
  • Quantum Physics
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Computational Physics
  • Electrodynamics
  • Solid-state Physics 

A master’s degree holder can pursue work as a scientist or physicist in research laboratories or at an academic institution as a professor.

Top Master’s in Applied Physics Potential Careers and Salaries:

Physicist

Degrees That Pay the Most - 38

Average Annual Income: $122,850
Projected Job Openings: 1,300

Specializes in research where it focuses more on physical phenomena. They also develop theories based on observation and experiments and formulate methods where laws and theories are applied. 

INDUSTRIAL MANAGEMENT

Degrees That Pay the Most - 40

Average Annual Income: $105,480
Projected Job Openings: 11,700

This degree program molds students in facility and engineering management, trade, and systems analysis. With this master’s degree, a graduate can land a job as any of the following: Systems Manager, Industrial Engineer, Operations Consultant, Director of Manufacturing, or Production Supervisor.

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