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When to Get–or Forget About–Master’s and Doctorate Degrees

Many graduates often find themselves at the crossroads: should they work for years in the hopes of getting more knowledge and skills along the way, or should they take up master’s or doctorate degrees now?

In reality, it’s no longer a matter of how. Even in the Philippines, anyone who has already completed a master’s education can proceed to doctorate distance education (if they wish to study online) with ease. The challenge is knowing when to do it.

If you are in the same situation, hopefully, these points may provide you with clarity:

Get a Master’s and/or Doctorate Degree If . . .

1. You’re Looking for a Higher Salary

No doubt, a master’s or doctorate degree can bump your salary up significantly. In the United States, for example, a holder of a bachelor’s education can earn a little over $60,000 annually. That’s higher than the national average.

However, if you have a master’s degree, the pay can exceed at least $70,000 a year for the most in-demand jobs. An MBA can potentially increase their salaries by at least 25%.

Meanwhile, spending four more years in school to earn a Ph.D. may reward you with about $80,000 annual salary if you’re fresh out of grad school. If your field is in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), that can go even higher, say, at least $100,000.

2. You Are Planning to Work Overseas

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), at least 1 million Filipinos leave the country each year to work and live in another country. But contrary to what most people think, not all professions are financially rewarding.

In 2018, the average compensation of a Filipino was only 30,000 pesos a month or even less. In one of the surveys, at least 40% of the respondents said they’re willing to receive 20,000 pesos monthly.

Compare that to Americans who could enjoy even a bump in their salary by as much as 35% or around $40,000 annual income if they only move to another country.

Many reasons influence the salary gap between Filipinos and other foreigners, and one of these is the length and quality of education.

Some countries like the UK view long years in school as advantageous as it means the person received adequate training. Moreover, some of the best learning institutions are outside the Philippines.

To make themselves more competitive in the international market, Filipinos may benefit from getting post-graduate education.

3. You Are a Woman

Even if more women are joining the workforce, unfortunately, they are still not paid equitably compared to men.

In a PayScale report for 2021, the researchers divided the gap into two categories: uncontrolled and controlled.

In the uncontrolled or opportunity pay gap, the differences between gender salaries decreased by over $0.05 since 2015. But this means that women still received $0.82 for every dollar men earned during the same period.

When the team accounted for factors such as title, education, and years of experience, the gap between equal pay for equal work drooped since 2015 but for a measly $0.01. Females still earned less than a dollar for every dollar their male counterparts made even if they are doing the same job.

The sad truth is that, currently, males will always receive more money than women regardless of their level of education. However, by getting more knowledge and skill, they can decrease the gender pay gap and earn more than when they just have a bachelor’s degree.

Reconsider It at Some Other Time If . . .

woman on the floor using her laptop

1. You Need to Give Up Your Job Right Now

During this COVID-19 pandemic, you may be tempted to leave your job and focus on getting a master’s degree, so you can apply for a higher position once everything begins to feel normal again.

However, many experts discourage employees and new graduates from doing that now. After a pandemic or even an economic recession, the job market will be tight.

A pause in employment years may indicate that you will be less competitive than other applicants, who might have gained more skills around the same time you’re in school.

That doesn’t mean you cannot take a post-graduate education. You can maximize online learning, so you can better juggle your schedule, but don’t give up work just yet.

2. You’re Planning to Shift to a Different Field

If you’re thinking of changing your career, you may want to pause your dream of getting either a master’s or doctorate degree. You may acquire some skills, but you may not be able to make the most of them in your next profession.

When deciding whether to pursue a post-graduate school, consider factors such as your desired profession, career goals, and even time and finances. This way, you don’t waste resources.

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