This degree offers a $30,000 pay raise – here’s why

BY Sam BeckerDecember 12, 2022, 4:24 p.m.

The University of Idaho campus, seen in May 2018. (Photo by: Education Images—Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

One of the biggest benefits of earning a graduate degree is that it tends to qualify you for jobs that move you up the pay scale by a rung or two. Depending on the industry and the specific graduate degree, this salary increase can be quite significant. Students with an undergraduate degree in computer science should earn the highest salaries – and a master’s degree in computer science can lead to an even higher salary. That extra degree could be worth $30,000, in fact.

“The numbers show that those extra one to two years of education pave the way to a job that pays, on average, $30,000 more in annual salary than those with just an undergraduate degree in computer science,” said Craig Gotsman, a computer scientist. professor and dean of the Ying Wu College of Computing at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, previously said Fortune.

As a result, someone working in a technology or computer-related field could see a huge boost if they are willing to take the courses to get a master’s degree. As for why these degrees are so lucrative? It depends on supply and demand.

Why a Masters in Computer Science is Worth It

People with an advanced degree in computer science see their salaries increase for one simple reason: their skills are in demand. As the world has gone digital, so have employers’ needs. And tech skills aren’t just in demand in Silicon Valley, nearly every industry and field imaginable incorporates technology of one type or another into their operational folds.

Amidst a high demand for people who can create and implement these technologies, there is also an increased demand for master’s degree programs in computer science.

“We have seen strong growth in the number of master’s students for our program,” says Terry Soule, professor and chair of the computer science department at the University of Idaho. And many of these students are people already well into their careers, looking for ways to open new doors and, naturally, raise their salaries, adds Soule.

“Many of the people who enroll in our program are continuing education students, people who want to advance their careers,” he says.

Students pursuing a graduate degree in computer science are also likely to see a good return on their investment. The average starting salary for master’s degrees in computer and information science was nearly $103,000 in 2021, according to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The number of high-paying job opportunities in this field is likely to increase. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 21% increase in the employment of computer and information researchers between 2021 and 2031, with a median salary of more than $131,000 in 2021.

The IT job market is changing

There are myriad ways to use a graduate degree to your advantage, whether you’re trying to break into an industry or using it to land a promotion and a raise. While workers with computer skills are in demand, they earn high salaries because they are so widely scarce. However, this dynamic is changing.

One of the reasons the job market is getting tougher for graduates is that employers are becoming more selective. “Companies have dramatically increased the difficulty of their interviews,” says Sam Gavis-Hughson, founder of Byte by Byte, a company that helps software engineers land jobs at big tech companies. “Five years ago, most candidates saw fairly easy questions, at least for all but the largest companies. Now you have second and third tier companies asking tough questions. »

Moreover, it could be more difficult to break into the job market as an entry-level computer scientist, at least in the short to medium term. Companies laid off more than 120,000 tech workers in 2022. And Gavis-Hughson expects a “temporary slowdown in hiring, especially for junior positions.”

Still, graduate degree holders, and especially those with experience under their belts, may hold an advantage in the job market. A master’s degree can help put your resume at the top of the pile and make you a more attractive candidate for many jobs, and you can also learn skills that qualify you for higher roles. These roles also tend to come with higher pay scales and open up even more doors and opportunities.

Why IT Professionals Need to Combine Education and Experience

While a master’s degree in computer science can help increase your earning potential, students should also learn and develop a strong skill set. This is why on-the-job experience is also so important in advancing your career in this field.

“There’s a difference between being prepared for the job and having the direct skills needed for the job,” says Gavis-Hughson. “You’re not going to develop direct job skills in school. The way you develop these skills is at work.

As such, a solid education (which can include a college-level education), coupled with work experience and possibly skills enhancement along the way, will be the way to significantly boost your salary.

“IT can put you on a good career path,” says Soule. “It can lead to a good salary and lots of opportunities.”

Discover all Fortune’s degree program rankings, and learn more about specific career paths.

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