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Will Getting a Master’s Degree Help You Earn More in STEM?

Graduate degrees are often the ticket to earning a higher salary. If you’re contemplating a master’s degree in a field related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), doing so will likely boost your yearly earnings, according to a 2015 article from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sourced by a training company we asked.

The annual median salary for workers aged 25 and older who worked full time who had a master’s degree was $68,000 in 2013. Those with bachelor’s degrees earned a median salary of just $56,000, $12,000 less than master’s degree holders.

Here’s the catch, though: not all workers with master’s degrees earn more money than those with bachelor’s degrees. Depending on the occupation, master’s degree holders don’t necessarily earn more, and, in fact, they may earn less than those with just bachelor’s degrees. In many cases, the two types of degree holders earn about the same annual wage.Image result for Will Getting a Master’s Degree Help You Earn More in STEM?

It’s important to note that there could be many reasons why a person with a master’s degree earned a particular salary. That person may earn more than others because of their overall qualifications for jobs that pay more than their colleagues with bachelor’s degrees. Those with bachelor’s degrees may have plenty of experience and earn more money than those with master’s degrees and little experience.

That said, if you’re into math, you will probably earn a higher salary than you would with just a bachelor’s degree. Workers in the field of math and statistics saw a 33 percent higher median annual salary than those with a bachelor’s degree. The median annual wage for workers in this category was $80,000 with a master’s degree and $60,000 with a bachelor’s degree. Thirty-eight percent of workers in this category had master’s degrees.

Environmental scientists and geoscientists saw a 29 percent wage premium for master’s degree holders over bachelor’s degree holders. The annual median wage was $80,000 with a master’s and $62,000 with a bachelor’s. Like those working in math and statistics-related fields, 38 percent held master’s degrees.

Network and computer systems administrators earned a median annual wage of $88,000 with a master’s degree and $70,000 with a bachelor’s degree. That is a wage premium of 26 percent. Just 11 percent of workers in this category had master’s degrees.

Staying in the computer- and technology-related vein, web developers with master’s degrees earned a 23 percent wage premium over those with bachelor’s degrees. The median annual salary for web developers with bachelor’s degrees was $61,000, while it was $75,000 for those with master’s degrees. Only 16 percent of web developers had master’s degrees.

Moving to the field of biological science, the median annual wage was $60,000 with a master’s degree, while it was $50,000 with a bachelor’s degree, which was a wage premium for master’s degree holders over bachelor’s degree holders of 20 percent. Thirty-four percent of workers in this field have master’s degrees.

Chemists and materials scientists earned a median annual salary of $71,000 with master’s degrees and $60,000 with bachelor’s degrees. This was a wage premium of 18 percent. Twenty-two percent held master’s degrees in this field.

Depending on your specialty if you’re in engineering, your wage premium could vary significantly depending on your level of education. The median annual salaries for civil, mechanical, and architectural engineers and engineering managers ranged between 9 and 13 percent for those with master’s degrees compared to those with bachelor’s degrees, for example. On the other hand, engineers in geology, mining, and petroleum had salaries that were approximately 7 percent lower for those holding master’s degrees. Finally, chemical engineers earned salaries that were about equal for both master’s and bachelor’s degree holders.




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