The best master's degrees to increase your earning potential

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Obtaining a relevant master's degree is a great way to improve your employability and earning potential. Completing a postgraduate course can help you position yourself as an expert in your field and make your candidate profile more interesting to new employers. Understanding what university courses can help you explore better-paid job opportunities is an essential step to planning and accomplishing your career goals. In this article, we explore what are some of the best master's degrees, explain how long it usually takes to complete a postgraduate course and list high-paid careers that require a master's degree.

What are the best master's degrees for employability?

Choosing one of the best master's degrees is a great way to boost your employability and make it possible to pursue better-paid job opportunities. Here are some postgraduate subjects that you may consider to accomplish that:

Engineering and technology

Degrees in engineering and technology make it possible for you to develop important technical skills and gain advanced knowledge about designing and developing technological solutions, constructions and various devices. Degrees of this type are very practical, which means after obtaining an engineering degree, you'd have a high chance of finding a job that meets your expectations and salary standards. What's great about it is that you may have an option to specialise in various areas of engineering and technology, making it possible to pursue a career that aligns well with your interests.

Here are some example degrees you may consider if you're interested in studying engineering and technology:

  • civil engineering

  • mechanical engineering

  • information systems

  • creative technologies

  • electronic engineering

  • aerospace engineering

  • robotics and artificial intelligence

Related: 10 highest-paid engineering jobs (duties and salary info)

Education

Obtaining a master's degree in education allows you to become an expert in your field and increases your chances of advancing your career. A course of this type may be perfect for you if you're passionate about teaching. It allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the principles of education and makes it possible to explore a narrow specialisation, such as special learning needs or educational technology. Here are some degrees in education to consider:

  • education with leadership and management

  • medical and healthcare education

  • inclusive education

  • social change

Related: How to become a special education teacher

Medicine-related degrees

Obtaining a medicine-related degree allows you to work in healthcare or pursue a scientific career. These highly specialised courses typically require long-term studying, but they're also in demand, which means that graduates are highly likely to find employment right after their studies. These are some interesting degrees in the medical field that can improve your earning potential:

  • clinical nursing

  • sport and exercise medicine

  • genomic medicine

  • pharmaceutical science

  • advanced clinical practice

  • acute surgical care

  • dental studies

  • clinical veterinary sciences

Related: 10 highest-paid medical jobs in the UK (with salary info)

Architecture and construction

Most employers who are searching for candidates for more advanced roles in architecture or construction require that they have at least a master's degree in their field. Completing a postgraduate course of this type allows you to explore job opportunities in various fields. Since these degrees are usually in demand, obtaining one makes it easier to find a job abroad and may potentially lead to a successful international career. Here are some popular courses you can choose from:

  • enterprise architecture management

  • architecture and urban design

  • building conservation and adaptation

  • energy and sustainable building design

Related: 12 popular jobs in architecture (with salaries and duties)

Computer science

A degree in computer science allows you to pursue a career in various industries, from healthcare and education to business and finance. You may also decide to specialise in a narrow field within computer science, such as artificial intelligence or machine learning. In some cases, it's a challenging but usually also rewarding career that has numerous benefits and significantly improves your employability. Here are some degrees that allow you to focus on computer science:

  • financial technology

  • ethical hacking and cyber security

  • data analytics and IT security management

  • business analytics and information systems

  • creative computing

Related: Guide to jobs in computer science (career path and salaries)

Marketing

Although there are many marketing specialists working in the field, this career is still in demand. This means that there are many opportunities available for people who are passionate about marketing and want to invest their time in expanding their knowledge and developing new creative skills. What's great about choosing a marketing-related master's degree is that after obtaining it, you may have the possibility to find equally interesting opportunities both as a full-time employee and self-employed professional. Here are some interesting marketing degrees to consider:

  • strategic marketing

  • creative writing and content marketing

  • consumer and digital marketing analytics

  • business intelligence and digital marketing

Related: 10 positions in marketing (with duties and salary info)

Business administration

Business administration is one of the most universal fields that can allow you to learn how to successfully manage a business. With a master's degree in business administration (MBA), you can support company owners and entrepreneurs by helping them enter new markets, develop new products and grow their businesses. These degrees can help you with that:

  • corporate social responsibility

  • engineering management

  • business ethics

  • retail management

How long does it take to obtain a master's degree?

If you're considering going back to school or continuing your education right after obtaining a bachelor's degree, it's important that you realise how long it usually takes to obtain a master's degree. Typically, standard postgraduate courses take around one year to complete. If you're interested in more advanced courses, such as medical courses, you may want to dedicate from three to five years to them. To better understand how long your desired master's lasts, consider visiting the university's website to learn more about it.

High-paid careers that require a master's degree

Although you can successfully pursue a career in most fields with just a bachelor's degree, there are some careers that require you to complete a postgraduate course. Here are some of them:

1. Clinical psychologist

National average salary: £48,012 per year

Primary duties: Clinical psychologists are responsible for assessing, diagnosing and treating patients with mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. A clinical psychologist helps patients treat both short-term issues and chronic conditions. They typically work in a hospital or clinic environment. There are numerous subspecialties of clinical psychology to explore, such as adult psychology, psychology of learning disabilities or gero-psychology.

2. Architect

National average salary: £42,555 per year

Primary duties: Architects plan, design and administer building projects for clients. On a daily basis, they use their technical skills and the knowledge of design, construction procedures and building materials. It's a highly specialised and creative role that requires excellent time-management and organisation skills. Although it's usually possible to find an entry-level architecture job after completing a relevant undergraduate course, it's most common for independent architects to have master's degrees.

3. Director of engineering

National average salary: £89,245 per year

Primary duties: Directors of engineering are senior leaders in the field of engineering. As leaders of the engineering departments, they're usually responsible for overseeing the work of other engineers who work at the same company. Some of their daily duties may involve hiring new staff members, planning budgets and attending client meetings to ensure steady company growth.

4. Anaesthesiologist

National average salary: £94,630 per year

Primary duties: Anaesthesiologists are medical professionals and doctors who administer anaesthesia and other medication to manage pain. They typically assist surgeons and other doctors during surgeries. On a daily basis, they meet with patients to examine them and make sure they qualify for general anaesthesia. Anaesthesiology is one of the most challenging subspecialties in medicine, which takes many years to complete, but gives the opportunity to pursue higher-paid opportunities.

Related: How to become an anaesthesiologist: duties and requirements

5. Nuclear engineer

National average salary: £62,172 per year

Primary duties: Nuclear engineers are responsible for designing and developing nuclear power stations. They often carry out maintenance work and security measures, monitor radiation levels and oversee the work of technicians. Typically, nuclear engineers work in an office or lab environment.

6. Prosthetist

National average salary: £32,425 per year

Primary duties: Prosthetists are medical and science professionals who specialise in designing and developing prostheses. They typically work with patients with physical disabilities and aim to improve the quality of their lives by fitting them with artificial limbs, braces and other supportive appliances. It's a highly specialised profession that requires extensive knowledge of engineering, technology and human anatomy. People working in this field use their strong interpersonal skills to help patients physically and emotionally.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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