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20 Best Future Careers for Graduate Students

 

20 Best Future Careers for Graduate Students

According to the experts the jobs listed below are among the fastest growing and/or most lucrative opportunities on the radar screen over the next several years. We've done some skimming here, assembling a list of careers that either require a graduate degree or for which a master's provides a quantum leap in compensation and opportunity. Lots of professionals break into a career with a bachelor's degree and do fine for a few years, only to hit the glass ceiling that separates those who have earned a management level degree from those who haven't yet. That said here's a group of career suggestions that include recognition of recent changes in the economy as a whole and the job market that has resulted. Our data is taken from U.S. Department of Labor research.

1. Financial Advisor: This career can plant you in an investment bank managing accounts for individual clients or working in financial analysis for corporate clients. But one of the more lucrative spinoffs in this field has been at the boutique level, working in a small firm managing retirement or investment accounts for individual clients. Many financial advisors working in such an environment obtain a Series 7 license and an insurance credential so they can handle brokerage for their clients as well. Most specialists in the field have a MBA, usually in Finance, or a Master of Finance degree.

The number of positions in this field is expected to grow by thirty percent over the next several years due to the increasing number of people moving into investments and towards retirement. The median salary for financial advisors is $68,200; those in the 25th percentile of the salary range earn $44,760 while those in the 75th percentile earn $116,580.

2. Financial Analyst: Traditionally this role has been an advisory role, based on the assessment of investment opportunities such as securities, stocks, and public offerings. A financial analyst works for investment houses, for banks, for securities firms and for regulatory agencies in the financial sector. More recently financial analysts have taken on the role of analyzing the convoluted financial instruments traded, insured and developed by hedge funds and rapid fire investment firms. This is another position popular with MBA graduates or those who have completed a Master of Economics degree

This profession is expected to experience a twenty percent job growth over the next several years, much faster than the growth rate than the average for all occupations. The median salary for financial analysts is $73,670; for the salary range the 25th percentile is $55,640 and the 75th percentile is $98,920.

3. Actuary: This is a risk analysis profession. Actuaries apply their knowledge of finance, business and statistics to determine the risk for many types of events including loss of property, accidents and illness, as well as financial questions such as investment scenarios for a company, capital expenditures, or acquisitions. Actuaries can enter the profession with a bachelor's degree but the requirements for mathematics, statistics and economics training make a Master of Finance or a Master of Accounting & Finance a good educational choice. Multiple exams and certification are required for this field.

The prediction for this profession is that there will be twenty one percent job growth over the next eight years, although competition is expected to be substantial. The median salary for actuaries is $87,210. On the salary scale the 25th percentile earns $65,050 and the 75th percentile earns $120,870.

4. Occupational Therapist: These are professionals that work with people who suffer from a developmental, physical, or emotionally disabling condition. Occupational therapists often work with children who have been delayed developmentally, and with people who are relearning skills after a traumatic occurrence. They assist with both motor and mental skills. In most states a licensed occupational therapist must have completed a Master of Occupational Therapy Degree.

The increase in jobs for this field is projected at twenty six percent over the next several years, much faster than the projected average for all occupations. The median salary for occupational therapists is $69,630; on the salary scale the 25th percentile makes $57,230 and the 75th percentile earns $84,150.

5. Physician Assistant: This profession is similar to that of Nurse Practitioner, in that the physician assistant practices medicine under the supervision of an MD. Physician assistants see patients, provide diagnosis and treatment, and are authorized to write prescriptions for certain classes of medication. While this profession does not officially require a graduate degree for licensure, eighty percent of the accredited physician assistant education programs are offered as a Master's Degree in Physician Assistant

The profession is projected to grow at a very rapid rate: almost forty percent over the next eight years. The median salary for a Physician Assistant is $84,250; the 25th percentile on the wage scale is $71,760 and those at the 75th percentile earn $99,540.

6. Physical Therapist: These medical professionals are known for their work with physically disabled individuals, helping them to learn or restore movement and muscle activity that has been lost to surgery, age or trauma. They are also diagnosticians however, consulting with doctors on the causes for pain or loss of physical ability and devising treatment programs accordingly. Physical therapists must complete a Master of Physical Therapy degree at an accredited school in order to attain state licensure.

The physical therapy field is growing rapidly with the aging of the population. Job growth is projected at thirty percent over the next eight years. The median salary for a physical therapist is $74,480; on the wage scale those at the 25th percentile earn $62,279 and those at the 75th percentile earn $87,940.

7. School Psychologist: This psychology specialization is for professionals who work with children in early childhood education, elementary, middle and secondary school. The job calls for analysis of both learning and behavioral difficulties, and the development of potential treatment or management programs in conjunction with teachers and parents. Some states require school psychologists to hold a PhD; others will credential people who hold a Master of Psychology in School Psychology or a degree as Education Specialist.

The growth in job opportunities is projected to be slightly faster than projected overall job growth; however the greater opportunity pool will be for those who hold a doctorate. The median salary for school psychologists is $66,040; those at the 25th percentile earn $50,210 and those at the 75th percentile earn$85,270.

8. Education Administrator: People with this job description can be school principals, assistant principals or faculty administrators in the elementary and secondary schools. Many of these positions including principal and curriculum & instruction development require state licensure and in almost every state the academic requirement for these jobs is a Master of Education (MEd).

Job growth is expected to be about the same as the average projected growth rate for all jobs, but employment opportunities should be excellent because of the retirement of large numbers of school principals. The median salary for school administrators is $86,220; the 25th percentile on the salary scale is $69,560 and the 75th percentile is $104,050.

9. Marriage and Family Therapists: Provide individual and group therapy for couples, families and children. This profession differs from psychology in that the MFT professional focuses on group or individual social interaction rather than diagnosis of individual problems. All states require licensure for this profession and completion of a Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy which includes 3,000 hours of supervised field work.

Projections are that this profession will grow at the rate of fourteen percent over the next several years, faster than the average growth for all job categories. The median salary for marriage and family therapists is 446,920; the wage scale at the 25th percentile is $36,480 and at the 75th percentile it is $58,440.

10. Public Health Social Worker: Medical and public health social workers specialize in working with individuals or families who are coping with chronic or terminal illness such as AIDS, Alzheimer's, or cancer, or diseases that are extremely debilitating and painful. Social workers in this field provide counseling, guidance for further social services and help with any needs for those moving from a hospital to home environment. Most states license social workers and those who work in a counseling position must complete a Master of Social Work.

Social work in general is projected to be a growing employment field; in the case of medical and public health social workers the growth rate will be about twenty two percent over the next eight years. The median salary for this position is 46,300; on the salary scale the 25th percentile is paid $36,090 and at the 75th percentile the salary is $58,490.

11. Urban Planner: These professionals work in the public sector almost exclusively; developing plans both for near term projects and long term growth. Urban planning may involve redevelopment of a blighted area, transportation projects, design for new growth areas and implementation of regulatory standards for environmental goals. The job generally requires a Master's in Urban Planning or in Environmental Design or in Environmental Engineering.

The projections for job growth for this profession show a nineteen percent growth over the next eight years, faster than the average projected rate for all job classifications. The median salary for urban planners is $61,820; the wage scale places salary at the 25th percentile at $48.700 and for the 7th percentile at $77,790.

12. Hydrologist: This job is becoming increasingly important as in increasingly crowded globe wrestles with water quality and availability. Hydrologists are routinely called in on water quality issues involving aquifers, on water diversion issues, and on the development of water resources in general. Environmental protection of watersheds and aquifers has become a primary concern for government agencies and the hydrologists that advise them. The profession generally requires a Master's in Hydrology or a Master's in Environmental Engineering with specialization in Hydrology.

This profession is projected to grow by about eighteen percent over the next eight years. The median salary for hydrologists is $73,670; on the salary scale those paid at the 25th percentile earn $56,430 and those at the 75th percentile earn $92,210.

13. Network Architect: These are the IT professionals that design computer networks. A network architect must have working knowledge of the hardware involved in routing and data storage; software and software engineering; wireless technology; and all of the design factors necessary for creating or scaling up a computer network. Professionals in this field generally hold a Masters in Computer Science or a Master of Information Systems.

The projected growth rate for this profession over the next several years is thirty percent, almost three times the average projected growth for all job categories. The median salary for network architects is $67,710; the salary scale shows earnings of $52,940 at the 25th percentile and $85,830 at the 75th percentile.

14. Computer Systems Analyst: This is one of many IT professions that keep information systems functioning properly. A systems analyst will work with business managers to help create the functionality in a computer system that the business needs, and figure out how to make the desired changes. Analysts also oversee the installation of any new hardware or software components that may be necessary to complete the desired changes. At one time most systems analysts entered the industry with a bachelor's degree, but today the better jobs go to applicants with a Master of Computer Science or a Master of Information Systems or a Master of System Engineering.

This profession is projected to show a twenty percent growth rate over the next eight years, much faster than the overall job growth rate. The median salary for a computer system analyst is $77,080; the salary scale shows a wage of $60,070 at the 25th percentile and $97,200 at the 75th percentile.

15. Civil Engineer: This is the oldest and largest of the engineering specialties. Civil engineers work on construction of large projects, often public work projects. Many in the field specialize today in the environmental impact of proposed projects, both public and private. Civil engineers have typically entered the field with a bachelor's degree but today, those employed as project managers, city engineers or administrators hold a Master of Civil Engineering degree.

This profession is projected to grow at a rate of twenty four percent over the next eight years, much faster than overall projected job growth and much faster than most of the other engineering disciplines. The median salary for a civil engineer position is $76,790. On the salary scale those working at the 25th percentile earn $60,650 and those at the 75th percentile earn $96,800.

16. Biomedical Engineer: These are professionals that develop new medical devices and equipment that utilizes new technology for treatment and diagnostic purposes. There is a lot of work in research for this profession, working with physicians to develop new designs for prosthetic devices, heart valves, and other new applications for medical treatment. Biomedical engineers also work in the pharmaceutical industry developing drug delivery devices. Many research institutions and medical manufacturers prefer to hire bioengineers with a Master of Biomedical Engineering.

The projected growth for this profession is enormous: seventy two percent over the next eight to ten years. The median salary for a biomedical engineer is $78,860. Those at the 25th percentile on the wage scale are earning $60,980. Those at the 75th percentile earn $100,890.

17. Clinical Nurse Specialist: This is one of the four traditional specializations for RNs who move up to advanced nurse practice. A clinical nurse specialist may specialize in one of many areas such as gerontology, oncology, acute care, or pediatrics. Generally clinical nurse specialists are nurse leaders in a clinical environment and may become administrators. This field requires completion of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

The job growth projections for registered nurses overall is twenty two percent over the next several years. Projected growth for advanced practice nurses is as high or higher due to the rapid growth of specialization and complexity in medicine. The median salary for a clinical nurse specialist is $78,740. The salary range for the position is $69,617 - $88,898.

18. Special Education Teacher: This profession has developed several areas of specialization, based on grade level and area of focus. Special education teachers work with students who have a developmental or learning or emotional disability that is hindering their work in school and in a social environment. Some teachers work with emotional and behavioral disorders; some specialize in learning disorders. The academic requirement for this position and for licensure is, increasingly, a Master of Education in Special Education.

The projected growth in this education profession is seventeen percent over the next several years. The median salary for a special education teacher is $50,950. The pay will vary a little among elementary, middle and secondary schools but not much. On the salary scale the 25th percentile earns $41,210 and the 75th percentile earns $64,350.

19. Software Engineer: This is the field where many of the most creative changes in digital technology occur. Software engineers apply mathematical skills and knowledge of computer science to help design and create new software programs. This profession is breaking into specializations rapidly as the field grows more complex and compartmentalized. Software engineers can find work with a bachelor's degree today but generally must have experience as well. A Master's in Software Engineering is necessary to break into this rapidly changing and growing field.

The projected growth rate for this profession is twenty one percent over the next eight years. The median salary for a software engineer is $87,480 for an applications engineer and $93,470 for a computer software systems engineer.

20. Emergency Management Specialist: This job title has taken on an entirely new meaning since 9/11 and for that reason requires substantially more training than it once did. At the state, local and federal level emergency management now incorporates planning for terrorist attacks as well as for natural disasters such as hurricanes, blizzards and earthquakes. Emergency planning also requires long term management plans as well as crisis management. Increasingly professionals interested in careers in this field are completing a Masters in Emergency Management or a Masters in Homeland Security.

The projected job growth for this position over the next several years is twenty percent, faster than the average projected job growth overall. The median salary for this position is $52,590. The 25th percentile on the salary scale is $38,980 and the 75th percentile is $79,750.

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