One of my favorite “war” stories is about the first job offer I received after moving to Washington, DC. It went something like this:
- HR Manager: Paul, we are excited to offer you the program assistant position. The starting salary is $22,000.
- Me: This is great. Thank you so much. Is the salary negotiable? For example, I do have a Master’s degree.
- HR Manager: Oh, right. Then we can offer you $23,000.
Needless to say, my heart sank when I heard this. Why did I spend 2 years in grad school for this? (I don’t tell prospective students this story…of course.)
Over the last 10-15 years, a disturbing employment trend seems to have grown: graduate degrees have become required for positions that, until recently, did not need an advance degree and pay the same regardless of education. However, the rising cost of education makes graduate school that much more difficult to swallow.
An even newer trend is credentialing: colleges, universities, associations, independent consultants, and many other groups, offer certificates, accreditation, training, and licenses for a multitude of disciplines, skills, and experiences. These programs are shorter and less expensive that a 2+ year graduate degree. However, are they seen as distinctive by would-be employers and are they truly professional development or just the equivalent of Boy/Girl Scout badges. (Badges are yet ANOTHER new trend, too.)
Given all the benefits and costs of advanced study, is it a good idea to get a graduate degree? Or is it better to pick up a few certifications here and there?
Before I jump into my thoughts on “To Grad School or Not to Grad School,” what are your thoughts on continued education? Did you get an advanced degree? Credential? Was it worth it?