Here are a few examples, a biologist coming out of college makes an average salary of $60,000, but with a graduate degree you can earn more than $80,000 a year, according to the American Institute of Biological Studies.
An advanced degree can also be lucrative for social workers. The average salary for social workers is $46,970. Get a master’s degree, and that income can jump to an average of $84,000.
On the other hand, a graduate with a petroleum engineering degree can make an average salary of $83,121 but will not see any substantial growth in salary with an advanced degree.
“Workers with bachelor’s degrees [in certain fields] already earn high salaries, which aren’t much improved with higher degrees,” Watson writes.
Are you dreaming of a law degree that will be your ticket to the good life? Keep dreaming, because law school graduates aren’t necessarily bringing home a lot more bacon. According to one survey, almost 90 percent of law school graduates end up with $80,000 in loans and wind up looking for work in a glutted job market with an average starting salary of $62,000.
This is important information, considering the amount of debt people feel they have to take on to boost their income. The average undergrad leaves school with more than $25,000 in student loan debt. Add another $30,000 on average for people who get advanced degrees.
Sisters Alice and Fran Stewart wrote a blog for the Cleveland Plain Dealer last year that made a point that I’ve tried to make with parents for years. The authors of “Making College Pay: Strategies for Choosing Wisely, Doing Well & Maximizing Your Return” argue, quite convincingly, that students should be financially strategic when selecting a college major.
“Though college can be a life-changing experience, for the vast majority of students who head off to college each year, earning a bachelor’s degree is about getting a job,” Stewart says. “Such bluntness may offend those who celebrate college as a sanctuary for personal growth. But young adults increasingly need a degree simply to access today’s job market.”
Here’s the hard truth, the Stewarts say. “For far too many students, college isn’t ‘worth it’ largely because of the choices they make about which college to attend, what degree to pursue and how to invest time spent on campus.”
This week’s Color of Money Question: Should students think strategically about how to improve their marketability and avoid paying more than their degree is worth? Send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name, city and state. Put “Is Your Advance Degree Worth the Debt?” in the subject line.