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Best Masters Degrees: Ranked by Average Salary of Graduates

There are many occupations that require a master's degree for employment. Some occupations pay less than others, regardless of an applicant's degree level.

The career fields that often require a master's degree and show the most growth are healthcare, business, IT and engineering. Learn more about the salary potential for various jobs in these fields.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Best Salaries by Degree

Below you will find specific jobs within each career field that offer some of the best median salaries, according to PayScale.com.

Healthcare

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is projected that 2.3 million healthcare jobs will be added between 2014 and 2024. In 2014, some of the fastest growing healthcare occupations that require a master's degree were predicted as being genetic counselors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The figures below are median salaries as of January 2017:

  • Genetic counselor: $66,317
  • Clinical nurse specialist: $82,510
  • Nurse-midwife: $88,964
  • Nurse anesthetist: $135,111
  • Nurse practitioner: $90,398
  • Physician assistant: $90,677

Business

A Master of Business Administration degree has a high number of specializations for many different career paths. A prospective student can choose to earn an MBA in marketing, healthcare management, human resources hospitality and tourism, communication and entrepreneurship. PayScale.com's January 2017 data gives the following salary information. Those these jobs may not always require an MBA, the MBA may be needed for advanced positions or preferred by employers:

  • Marketing director: $81,676
  • Operations manager: $61,059
  • Financial analyst: $58,233

Engineering

Engineers use mathematics and science to solve technical problems. They focus on safety, testing, maintenance and production. Engineers develop baselines in cost and time limitations. Many engineers specialize, according to the BLS. Although a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for most engineers, some employers may prefer to hire those with a master's; a master's also opens up job opportunities in research and development for many fields. PayScale.com gives these median salary figures for engineers:

  • Petroleum engineer: $99,902
  • Electrical engineer: $72,489
  • Computer hardware engineers: $75,524
  • Chemical engineers: $72,787
  • Aerospace engineer: $81,978

Information Technology

Technology is constantly changing and evolving. The field is growing rapidly, and IT professionals will always be upgrading their education as time passes. For example, management information systems (MIS) directors manage the computing resources for the company for which they work, so they need to stay abreast of advances in technology to keep their company current. Employers may prefer that the IT professionals listed below hold a master's, and many managers in particular earn one. PayScale.com's January 2017 report states the following median salary information for IT professionals:

  • Information technology project manager: $84,674
  • Management information systems (MIS) manager: $81,032
  • Systems analyst: $63,929
  • Software engineer: $80,745

Students who want to obtain a master's degree and work in a fast-growing field may want to consider a program in healthcare, engineering, business or information technology. These careers are not only some of the fastest growing but also tend to have above-average salaries, according to PayScale.com.


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