Joining The Workforce Or Pursuing Graduate School

You have just recently graduated and earned your bachelor’s degree. At this time, you are probably standing in front of a forked road wondering whether you should instantly join the workforce or pursue a graduate degree. Plotting this course might be a difficult choice even with various life and career advice from your family and friends. Hence, it is essential to face this life decision with a critical mind.


There are several factors to scrutinize to determine which option will provide you with the maximum benefit. Ultimately, it is better to weigh these choices depending on a combination of personal and work preferences.

Cost Of Education

Yes, earning your postgraduate degree may give you a bit of leverage when it comes to a bigger paycheck. However, computing the difference between the costs of studying and the additional benefit of earning that degree is crucial.

First, determine the total amount needed in completing the course. These expenses include school tuition, accommodation, daily allowance for food, and other education costs. Compare this with the amount of money you will gain from joining the workforce. If the difference between these two numbers is too much for you to handle, then it might be better for you to secure a professional position first.

There are, however, other ways to cover these expenses if you are adamant about pursuing the postgraduate track. Some universities and organizations offer scholarships and financial aid. Your school department might even have opportunities for you to be a teaching or research assistant, and in return, they will cover for a portion of your financial burden.

Number Of Job Opportunities


Your decision will also depend on whether your field has limited job opportunities or not. If there is an abundant supply of job vacancies you can fill, it is fine if you take the postgraduate route. However, if there is a limited number of job positions for you, it is better to be competitive as soon as you graduate so that you can establish yourself early in your field.

In fact, during an economic downturn, there are times that companies reject applicants because they are “overqualified.” It happens whenever there are only a few slots for the position, and they are more inclined to cost-cutting. They would instead hire a person who is just fit for the role but is demanding lower wage than a professional who is overqualified but is requiring a higher pay.

Career Change

If you are gunning for a career change, getting a postgraduate degree might be the best option. Some people feel that their current field is not fit for them or it is not economically feasible to stay in this career path. A postgraduate education will most likely open a vast array of job opportunities which will suit your career goals.

Teaching Opportunities

Those who are considering a teaching career are encouraged to take their postgraduate studies. This move can lead to a higher salary, more consulting opportunities, higher pension amount, and a tenured position at the university.


For those who do not know how someone with a teaching position works his/her ways up the ladder, it goes like this. If you are just a newbie in the teaching job and you still don’t have a postgraduate degree on hand, you are only qualified for a fellowship position. Fellows are considered to be assistants to professors.

However, as your postgraduate career flourishes, so does your teaching position. Once you have your master’s degree, you’ll receive a promotion to assistant professor. You might reach the professor position depending on your performance and maybe the presence of a doctorate. You can even be the head of the department or university eventually depending on your career progress.

Wage Premium

It is essential to research the wage premiums offered in your dream company, or even just in your field so that you can get a good grasp on whether investing in postgraduate studies is worth it or not.

According to one article by Scholar Advisor, most companies give higher wage premiums to those who have higher education qualifications. Despite this, there remain some employees with a master’s degrees who have the same salary, or even lesser in some cases, as those with only a bachelor’s degree in their name.

The study of the National Center for Education Statistics in 2013 showed that the highest wage premiums for employees with postgraduate education are those in the fields of sales, business, and finance (read further here: Also, the wage premiums of those with a master’s degree for jobs in financial services, securities, and commodities have the most substantial gap compared to their employee counterparts without the said degree.

There are indeed several factors to consider whether to invest in a postgraduate degree or join the workforce. To reach the best decision for yourself, it is essential to determine your life goals first, set your priorities, and weigh the pros and cons of the factors mentioned above. Once you have accomplished all of these, it is only a matter of time before you pursue the best route.

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