This list features the 10 best master’s degrees by salary potential for 2017.
Which master’s degrees will offer you the most bang for your buck? According to PayScale’s most recent college salary report based on the earnings of alumni with master’s degrees, specialized nursing, engineering, and computer science are among the best fields to pursue. These majors offer strong early career salaries (entry-level), and within ten years of experience the return on investment increases significantly.
To find which master’s degrees have the best earning potential, we looked at the most recent report from PayScale’s College Salary. We listed the top 10 master’s degrees in increasing order based on mid-career salaries (ten or more years of experience in the field). The master’s degree in our #1 spot offers the highest salary potential as a mid-career earner.
Below are the 10 best master’s degrees by salary.
#10 – Master’s in Biomedical Engineering
Early Career Salary: $70,500
Mid-Career Salary: $122,000
A master’s in biomedical engineering is a degree that prepares students to pursue careers in development and research, or for entry into PhD or MD programs. Degree applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in a basic science discipline or engineering, as programs require a strong foundation in the sciences. An advanced degree is required to work in biomedical research roles in research facilities, hospitals, and higher education. Biomedical engineers with a master’s degree can expect an early career salary under the six-figure mark, but after ten years of experience, the earning potential is considerably higher. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a projected growth rate for biomedical engineering professions of 23% over the next several years.
#9 – Master’s in Computer Engineering
Early Career Salary: $86,700
Mid-Career Salary: $125,000
The world’s future software engineers and developers will most likely hold master’s degrees in computer engineering due to the increased competition for these jobs. In fact, career advancement will be more likely for those with an advanced degree than those with only a bachelor’s in computers. A master’s degree in computer engineering prepares students for a technically demanding career and allows them to focus on specific areas of interest within the field. Specialties may include computer communications and networks, computer architecture, or software. The earning potential is high compared to other master’s level careers, but the projected growth rate for more jobs in computer engineering is expected to be slower than the national average of 7% until the year 2024.
#8 – Master’s in Chemical Engineering
Early Career Salary: $73,100
Mid-Career Salary: $125,000
Chemical engineering is a specialized engineering master’s degree that emphasizes the study and use of chemical and physical transformations. Since all manufacturing involves chemical transformations in one way or another, chemical engineers are often employed in manufacturing industries like pharmaceuticals, food, materials, energy, and electronics. Most leadership roles require at least a master’s degree and require experience working as a junior engineer under the supervision of experienced engineers. Employers value research and practical experience, which is why it is important to take advantage of internship and research opportunities while earning a master’s degree in chemical engineering.
#7 – Master’s in Technology Management
Early Career Salary: $65,900
Mid-Career Salary: $127,000
In order to climb the IT ladder in today’s organizations, a wide variety of skills are needed. From leadership to practical business applications, a master’s in technology management degree is designed to equip students for roles as information technology executives, team leaders, or chief information officers (CIOs). This unique degree emphasizes a strong technology course load through a business lens to better equip students for immediate leadership roles following graduation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected employment growth rate over the next seven years for technology management positions is expected to increase by 15%.
#6 – Master’s in Electrical Engineering (EE)
Early Career Salary: $79,900
Mid-Career Salary: $127,000
The electrical engineering profession requires a strong foundation in mathematics, physical sciences, and engineering techniques. Most advanced roles in the field, especially those overseeing projects or managing teams, require a master’s in electrical engineering. The degree takes approximately two years to complete, depending on the program. Research and development opportunities are beneficial for individuals wanting to pursue these kinds of employment roles within the industry. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports little to no employment change over the next several years, career advancement could require additional education and experience.
#5 – Master’s in Taxation
Early Career Salary: $61,100
Mid-Career Salary: $129,000
A master’s in taxation is a unique degree designed to develop competencies in the United States tax code and state taxation policies. Potential employers look for applicable education and experience, especially for management roles. Since there is only moderate on-the-job training, employers value the experience gained in a master’s degree program. Internships and independent projects are beneficial to new hires and may also set individuals apart from competition. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a decline in the number of jobs created through the year 2024. This means that career advancement will be directly related to education and experience.
#4 – Master’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE)
Early Career Salary: $79,500
Mid-Career Salary: $129,000
A master’s degree in electrical and/or electronics engineering offers a solid foundation in both theory and application in a constantly evolving field. Technical proficiencies are needed to work even in entry-level positions. This means that advanced degrees are sometimes required even for non-management roles. Early career salaries depend on industry and location. Research and development roles often pay higher than telecommunications; however, an advanced degree is almost always required for R&D jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports little to no change in the projected growth rate for electrical and electronic engineers. The employment change is expected to be hampered by a decline in many manufacturing sectors in which electrical engineers are employed.
#3 – Master’s in Operations Research
Early Career Salary: $80,800
Mid-Career Salary: $130,000
Operations research analysts utilize mathematical and analytical methods to assist organizations with the investigation of complex issues and decision-making. Due to the nature of operations research jobs, employers prefer to hire applicants with at least a master’s degree in operations research. This is especially true for management or leadership roles as operations research analysts. Compared to other industry-related jobs, the employment outlook is highly favorable for a wide range of reasons. As technology advances, companies will seek cost savings and efficiency to keep their business successful. This demand for operations research analysis means that the projected growth rate for operations research jobs could increase by as much as 30% (much faster than the nation’s average of 7%) through the year 2024.
#2 – Master’s in Computer Science and Engineering
Early Career Salary: $95,900
Mid-Career Salary: $134,00
A master’s degree in computer science and engineering integrates theory, implementation, and the design of information, communication, and computing. Individuals with a master’s in computer science and engineering have a unique understanding of both disciplines as related to computer and network systems. Jobs in the industry are mostly offered by high-tech manufacturing firms, although some computer engineers work in research labs or teach at the university level. There are a limited number of jobs available in this industry, which is why an advanced degree often sets you apart from competition. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected change in employment between 2014 and 2024 is 3%. This number is slightly lower than the nation’s average (7%).
#1 – Master’s in Nurse Anesthesia
Early Career Salary: $140,00
Mid-Career Salary: $156,000
The master’s in nurse anesthesia is the best degree on our list for early career salary potential (entry-level positions) and mid-career salary (ten years of experience). A master’s degree is required for entry-level roles due to the technical requirements of the job. Nurse anesthetists are considered advanced practice registered nurses who work full-time in a wide variety of healthcare settings, but most commonly in hospitals and related settings. A degree in nurse anesthesia requires a strong understanding of anatomy, pharmacology, and physiology. Nurses are also required to have one year of clinical experience before admission is granted to an accredited nurse anesthetist program. Not only is the salary potential high for nurse anesthesia master’s degrees, but the job outlook is highly favorable. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 31% employment growth through year 2024 for nurse anesthetists.