Turns out, the job market is perking up and going to grad school is really going to help you afford that rhinoplasty you always dreamed of …
A few years ago, college graduates had about as good a chance of landing a decent-paying job as Charles Manson at a daycare, but, like they say, time heals everything. A few years makes a big difference, and today, graduate employment rates are rising like the cap and gown cloaked phoenices they once were. Suddenly, the dewy eyes of graduates are filled with hope, not Cinnabon regional manager job rejection tears. Don't call it a comeback; but also do.
So, in this ever-so-slightly better job market, who's raking in the most post-recession cash? Do undergraduate degrees still cut it, or are graduate degrees the only ticket out of the trailer park? How much more money will a graduate degree get you to make those extra years of academia worth it?
Recent data from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce suggest the answers, young tadpole, are entirely dependent on your major.
And, by the looks of it, you're just generally balling if engineering is what your parents spend their life savings on.
Okay, so going to graduate school is pretty worth it for engineers. But what about the rest of us who can barely hold a protractor without needing a spirited debriefing session with our therapists? Well, some of the biggest increases in undergrad to graduate salaries are actually in protractor-free majors like political science and history.
Yes, we were as surprised as you to find that history majors got paid at all.
But the biggest difference an advanced degree makes when it comes to employment rates is for those in hard sciences and social sciences. Apparently it really helps to have a graduate degree when you're, you know, testing the effects of MDMA on otters or whatever those people do.
Even people who spent some time working in the labor market then returned back to school for their graduate degree make some pretty juicy salary gains.
Here is the difference in annual salary for experienced workers with and without graduate degrees, where “experienced” means having spent at least three years in the workforce, far away from the ivied shelter of their campuses.
That right there is the reason that there is always, no matter what major you're in, an older lady named Phyllis who was an army nurse for 30 years before she spontaneously decided to get a masters in sociology. Hey, Phyllis.
But, there's also some good news for people who hate school: as much as a graduate degree helps, spending at least three years working in the labor market results in some pretty substantial gains as well. Even without the extra school, salaries are pretty buttery across a wide variety of majors for people with only undergraduate degrees and wily street smarts.
Lastly, here’s the difference in unemployment rates between recent college graduates and those who have spent a few years working.
Umm, you guys? Journalism, art direction and e-magazine development aren't on here … guess that's because we get paid in tacos and self-criticism.
Anyway, lessons to be learned here.
1. Don't not be an engineer
2. Go to grad school, you lazy slob
3. Go to grad school after three years, you lazy slob
4. Creative jobs aren't affected by the same market and employment forces that traditional "jobby" jobs are. Creative jobs are still about talent, who you know, and your ability to schmooze at post-Oscar party orgies.
5. Exactly zero of these graphs display how much you'll owe in student loans from grad school and how much that'll offset any increases in salary. But, let's just assume by the time you get to grad school age, Daddy will have given you access to your trust fund or that you're so set on a new career that you're willing to subsist on particulate matter left over in ramen flavor packets until that career takes flight like a beautiful bird. Great job!