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Study abroad : Career Prospects

What are the best master’s degrees for employment?

Find a masters degree that is highly sought after in the job market to increase your employability and salary prospects.

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Students pursue master’s degrees for a number of different reasons including reaching a higher pay bracket, standing out in a crowded job market, gaining specialist skills, or qualifying for a certain role. Although you can of course choose to study a master’s degree simply because you enjoy the subject, you probably also want to know that this degree is going to improve your employment prospects. Here we explore which postgraduate degrees are best for securing a job.


To form this list we used data from the UK government’s Postgraduate Learning Education Outcomes 2018/19 (PLEO) publication and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Master of Business Administration (MBA)


Getting an MBA can lead to a higher salary, professional contacts, desirable skills, and a more senior title. MBA graduates are particularly sought after in the business world. In fact, 39 per cent of MBA employers in the UK expect hiring of MBA holders to be above average in 2021. In the US, this is much higher at 70 per cent (QS 2021).


As MBA degrees are so highly respected and in-demand in many parts of the world, salaries are also particularly high.


Average MBA salaries 



USD 122,900 (including an average bonus of USD 30,500 per year)



USD 120,900 per year (including an average bonus of USD 18,800 per year)



USD 111,100 (including an average bonus of USD 11,300 per year)



USD 116,200 (including an average bonus of USD 17,800 per year)


(QS Top 10 countries for MBA salaries 2019)


Search for MBA degrees in your preferred study destination.


Nursing and midwifery


Nursing and midwifery postgraduate degrees are highly employable with 92.8 per cent of graduates in full time work or further study within five years of graduation (PLEO). This may be because these programmes are highly vocational with a clear career trajectory. Plus, the healthcare sector often suffers from a shortage of staff, so highly qualified professionals do not typically struggle to find employment.


So why get a master’s in nursing or midwifery? Well, you can qualify for more senior positions such as chief nursing officer or director of midwifery where you will be responsible for managing teams, strategy, and operations. As a result you will be paid more money with a greater reputation within the field.


Start browsing nursing or midwifery postgraduate degrees.


Average nursing salary


Starting salary: GBP 24,907 – GBP 30,615

Senior nurse: GBP 31,365 – GBP 37,890

Lead nurse/consultant nurse: GBP 38,890 – GBP 73,664


(Graduate Prospects 2020)


Average midwife salary


Entry level: 24,907

Band 6: GBP 31,365 – GBP 37,890

Manager: GBP 38,890 – GBP 44,503

Consultant: GBP 51,168 – GBP 73,664


(Graduate Prospects 2020)


Medicine and dentistry


Medicine and dentistry degree holders are always in high demand. Globally, it is expected that 40 million new healthcare jobs will be created by 2030 to cope with population growth, ageing societies and changing disease patterns (World Health Organisation).


Both medicine and dentistry are rewarding careers as you are able to alleviate pain and distress for your patients, helping to improve and save lives. You may choose to study either medicine or dentistry at postgraduate level to specialise in a particular area such as oncology or orthodontics. Gaining this kind of specialised knowledge and skillset will set you apart from other healthcare professionals when applying for consultant roles in particular.


Ready to find a postgraduate course in medicine or dentistry?


Average salary for physicians



Foundation year 1: GBP 27,689

Foundation year 2: GBP 32,050

Specialist training salary: GBP 37,935 – GBP 48,075

General practitioners (GPs): GBP 58,808 – GBP 88,744


(Graduate Prospects 2019)



Median physician salary: USD 112,210 – USD 208,000


(US News and World Report 2019)



Entry level: CAD 33,394

Average yearly salary: CAD 68,250


(Talent.com 2021)


Social care


You can become a practicing social worker with just a bachelor’s degree if you intend to work in entry-level positions such as a caseworker or counsellor. However many clinical roles require a master’s degree in social care due to the specialist training this provides. During this course you will also be required to complete an internship in a social work setting which is excellent experience to highlight when applying for jobs.


Having a master’s in social care (MSW) will qualify you to become a senior practitioner or manager, giving you more responsibility and higher pay. Plus, 91.6 per cent of health and social care master’s graduates are employed or in further study within five years of graduating (PLEO).


Average salary for social workers



Entry level: GBP 24,000 – GBP 30,000

With experience: GBP 40,000


(Graduate prospects 2019)



Median salary: USD 47,390


(US News and World Report 2019)



Average yearly salary: CAD 59,502


(Talent.com 2021)


Education and teaching


If you want to work in a more senior position at a school or university such as head of year or head of a subject area, you may want to consider a master’s in education or a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). In fact, in the UK, 88.6 per cent of people who studied a master’s in education were in full-time employment or further study (PLEO). These postgraduate degrees have a clearly defined career path, which should help you to plan your next steps once you graduate.


Interested in finding out more about specialisations within education?


Average salary for teachers



England and Wales: GBP 25,714 – GBP 41,604

Scotland: GBP 32,994- GBP 41,412

Head teacher: GBP 47,735- GBP 125,098


(Graduate Prospects 2020)



Entry level: USD 40,000

With experience: USD 60,477


(National Education Association 2017/18)



Entry level: CAD 36,630

With experience: CAD 45,614

Senior positions: CAD 73,478


(Talent.com 2021)


Hopefully this list has helped you come to a decision about which postgraduate degree to pursue. If you’re still not sure, check out which universities are within your reach using our course matcher tool.

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