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Starting Salaries for Master’s Degree Students

Master's Degree salaries

NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) has published its Winter 2016 Salary survey for those with Master’s Degrees. Below is real data of median income salaries from hiring companies who reported back to NACE.

As with all other salary information, the salary itself does not tell the whole story on earnings. If you are contemplating pursuing a master’s degree for your next step, know the following elements must be considered:

  1. What can you do with that master’s degree?
  2. How long and how difficult will it be to secure employment in the field?
  3. Then the compensation itself. 

Median Starting Salaries for Master’s Students by Academic Major:

Business: $71,663

  • Accounting: $57,000
  • Actuarial Science: $61,000
  • Business Administration/Management: $70,000
  • Economics: $62,000
  • Finance: $62,500
  • Hospitality Management: $91,000
  • Human Resources: $66,000
  • International Business: $66,000
  • Logistics/Supply Chain: $67,500
  • Management Information Systems: $66,000
  • Marketing: $71,000
  • Sales: $67,000

Communication: $55,727

  • Communications: $52,000
  • Journalism: $53,500
  • Public Relations: $50,000

Computer Science: $72,080

  • Computer Science: $70,000
  • Information Sciences & Systems: $66,000
  • Software Applications: $67,000

Engineering: $73,871

  • Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering: $73,500
  • Biomedical Engineering: $75,000
  • Chemical Engineering: $77,500
  • Civil Engineering: $63,000
  • Computer Engineering: $72,000
  • Electrical Engineering: $75,000
  • Engineering Technology: $68,000
  • Environmental Engineering: $69,000
  • Mechanical Engineering: $74,500
  • Nuclear Engineering: $72,000
  • Petroleum Engineering: $108,000
  • Software Engineering: $71,500
  • Systems Engineering: $73,500

Mathematics and Sciences: $67,891

  • Mathematics/Statistics: $65,500
  • Biology/Biological Sciences: $56,000
  • Chemistry: $75,000
  • Environmental Sciences: $55,000
  • Geology/Geological Sciences: $78,250
  • Physics: $77,000

A Word of Caution

If you are pursuing a master’s degree because you either need it to secure you next career step or because you need it for your personal confidence and esteem, OK. But if you are considering a master’s degree because you cannot find a job in your chosen field, make sure you don’t amplify your employment problem by accumulating more debt.Be honest with the ‘why’ question. Job search is a critical skill that we all must master.

Finally, Your Financial Future

There is a real cost to securing an advanced degree:

  1. Tuition and expenses for the degree itself
  2. A year or two where you are not working and learning in your field. Those who are working are gaining valuable experience and accumulating accomplishments that boost their hire-ability
  3. Generally, you are spending and not saving while you are getting an advanced degree. That means you are not funding your long-term financial independence. The early years will be greatly amplified by the passage of time (time value of money). It is expensive to postpone deposits toward your eventual financial independence. 

IF the advanced degree itself boosts earning and employability, all will be well but know you have to make up early for those lost years. Now you have the data to sort that one through.

Your degree will generally get you your first job, after that, it’s nearly always your track record and accomplishments.

Good luck.

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