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Pros & Cons of a Master's in Engineering

Whether just starting your college career or considering advancing with graduate study, you may be looking to extend your engineering education with a master's degree. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the reasons you may and may not want to follow that path.

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Many colleges and universities offer master's degrees in engineering. There are several subfields that you can consider, as well. In this article, we'll take a look at the pros and cons for earning your master's degree in engineering.

Pros of Earning a Master's in Engineering

Deciding whether or not a master's degree is for you must begin with the positives. It's easy to dwell on the negatives; so, first, let's consider the benefits of earning a graduate degree in engineering.

Numerous Options

When deciding on a master's program, you should note that there are many avenues down which this degree can lead. First of all, engineers often design and build things to help industries. The types of industries are nearly endless, but you can find a career as a biomedical engineer, a materials engineer, an aerospace engineer, a civil engineer, an electrical engineer, and even a health and safety engineer. Depending on what career you prefer, you'll want to be sure and focus your master's degree on that engineering field.

Along with the numerous options available, you'll find that many universities allow you to enter a master's program with any comparable bachelor's degree. A degree in engineering may be best, but most science degrees works as well. Some colleges do require you to have a bachelor's degree in the required field, such as undergrad civil engineering to enter a civil engineering master's degree, so be sure to check your college's admissions requirements.

Good Pay

It's important to note that a master's degree does not necessarily promote you to a different job title, as is the case with some degrees. Instead, a master's degree may allow you to climb the ladder with experience and earn a higher salary to start. For instance, according to Payscale.com in 2018, those who earn a Bachelor of Science in Engineering are likely to have an average salary of $85,000, though those who earn a Master of Science in Engineering earn an average of about $94,000.

Better Job Opportunities

Though you can become an engineer with a bachelor's degree, many employers look for master's degree candidates for upper level jobs. You can enter the job field right out of graduation, but a master's degree can make you more competitive for positions; it can also help you get a managerial-level job or even a teaching position in career and technical education courses. Another option is to continue your engineering education with an MBA or master's in engineering management. These will give you additional skills in accounting and running projects that will make you more marketable for better positions in a company.

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Cons of Earning a Master's in Engineering

A master's degree in engineering tends to be the typical degree for engineers. When considering continuing your education beyond a bachelor's degree, you need to look at the negatives as well as the positive reasons for extending your studies.

Higher Student Loans

As mentioned previously, you can usually expect to earn more with a master's degree than you will with a bachelor's. However, attending school longer may require more student loans and larger student debt in the end. Though you may find grants and scholarships to help cover costs, you'll likely need to take out some loans to cover all the books, tuition, and fees. This doesn't even take into consideration living costs, whether or not you choose to live on campus.

Extra Time in School

A bachelor's degree tends to take an average of four years. A master's degree typically adds on another two years after the completion of your bachelor's degree. The good thing about education is that there are other options that may be pursued. One combination that some universities offer is an accelerated bachelor's to master's degree in engineering, which can often be finished in five years. This is still an additional year beyond the bachelor's, which can put your life on hold and cost more money, overall.

Though choosing whether to continue your studies with a master's degree in engineering may seem complicated, you must decide whether or not the pros outweigh the cons in your own, personal scenario. If you feel like jumping into an entry level position and you don't want to rack up more debt, sticking with the bachelor's degree may be for you. However, if you want to specialize your studies in another area of engineering and possibly earn a better salary, consider the master's program.

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