Top 5 Jobs for Master's Degree Holders

jobs-for-masters-degreeGetting a master's degree may be a lot of work, but it's a fine thing to have from a money-making perspective (especially after you've paid off your student loans). While many people think of getting a master's in business administration when considering the possibilities for a professional degree, an MBA is in fact not one of the faster-growing master's programs out there. New opportunities are growing by the day for professionals in computer technology, medicine, science and finance. So what are the top five jobs for master's degree holders?

Here are the five top-paying, top-growing occupations for master's degree holders, according to data compiled from sources including the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS provides a wealth of information to students, job seekers and career changers. Arm yourself with the best resources BLS has to offer before choosing a career.

Keep in mind that salaries range broadly for master's degree holders--depending on industry and company, location, the nation's economy and your level of experience, and annual median wages can be anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 or more. That compares to average pay of $40,500 for a worker with a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Computer software engineer ($87,900 annual salary) or network system analyst ($73,900).

Software engineers develop, test and analyze the software that operates the computers we use. They specialize in designing computer games and operating systems, and jobs in the industry are expected to increase nearly twofold between 2006 and 2016. System analysts, meanwhile, specialize in data communications systems like the Internet--and this position is expected to be the top-growing occupation between 2006 and 2016. That's a 53.4% increase, or 140,000 new jobs.

-- Find software engineer jobs

2. Physician assistant ($81,230 annual salary).

The U.S. health care industry keeps growing in leaps and bounds. Doctors can't keep up with the demand, which is why physician assistants are becoming more popular. Assistants provide diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive health care services to patients, and they don't have to invest in years and years of medical school to do it. All they need is a master's degree.

-- Find physician's assistant jobs

3. Industrial organizational psychologist ($77,010 annual salary).

A master's degree in psychology is the ideal academic credential for becoming an industrial organizational psychologist. This job requires a psychological approach to improving worker productivity, and it's a field that's expected to grow by a rate of 26% in the next eight years because American companies are focused on doing more with fewer workers. People who work in this field apply principles of psychology to personnel, administration, management, sales and marketing problems. Job duties include policy planning; employee screening, training and development.

-- Find organizational psychologist jobs

4. Physical therapist ($72,790 annual salary).

The U.S. trends of a focus on fitness coupled with an aging population are providing an excellent environment for growth in this field, which is expected to clock in at around 30% by 2018. Becoming a physical therapist requires working with a patient to help restore physical strength and mobility, to relieve pain and prevent new injuries. Working with everyone from newborns to athletes to the elderly, you develop fitness and wellness programs for a healthier and more active lifestyle.

-- Find physical therapist jobs

5. Financial analyst ($84,780 annual salary) or personal financial advisor ($66,590 annual salary).

A financial analyst helps people and companies decide how to invest their money. Analysts usually work for banks, insurance companies, mutual funds and securities firms, meeting with company officials to learn more about the firms in which they want to invest. A personal financial advisor, on the other hand, assesses the financial needs of individuals and helps them with investments, tax laws, estate planning and insurance decisions. Almost 30% of advisors work independently and are self-employed.

-- Find financial anaylst jobs or personal financial advisor jobs

Bonus point:

Guess what job is anticipated by the BLS to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Did you answer environmental scientist? That's right. Green jobs are a go as the country and companies seek alternative sources of fuel and methods to reduce global warming and become stewards of planet Earth. Environmental scientists or specialists, who earn $65,280 annually, numbered only about 85,900 in May 2010, but their numbers are growing. They figure out what is in the air, water and soil to make sure that the environment is safe, and they give advice on how to clean the environment.

-- Find environmental scientist jobs

Next:30 Jobs That Pay $80,000

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