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The impact on salary from studying a master’s degree

Posted on: December 1, 2023
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Getting a master’s degree can have a significant impact on your salary. According to the UK government-led Graduate Labour Market Statistics (GLMS), in 2022 the median salary for people with a postgraduate degree was £45,000 compared to £38,500 for people with a bachelor’s degree. This means that people with a master’s degree earn on average 16% more than people with a bachelor’s degree.

There are a number of reasons why a master’s degree can lead to a higher salary. First, a master’s degree can give you the skills and knowledge you need to qualify for more senior and specialised positions. Second, a master’s degree can demonstrate that you are committed to your career and that you have a high level of expertise. Third, a master’s degree can be a requirement for some jobs, such as those in academia, research, and healthcare.

What are the benefits of getting a master’s degree?

In addition to the potential for a higher salary, there are a number of other benefits to getting a master’s degree. These include:

  • Improved career opportunities: A master’s degree can open up a wider range of career opportunities, including more senior and specialised positions.
  • Increased earning potential: As we have already seen, people with a master’s degree tend to earn more money than people with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Greater job satisfaction: A master’s degree can lead to more challenging and potentially more rewarding work.
  • Enhanced personal development: A master’s degree can help you to develop your critical thinking, research, and problem-solving skills.
  • Increased knowledge and expertise: A master’s degree can give you a deep understanding of your chosen field of study.

What jobs require a master’s degree?

There are a number of jobs that require a master’s degree, including:

  • Academic jobs: Most academic jobs, such as lecturer and professor, require a master’s degree or PhD.
  • Research jobs: Research jobs in academia and industry often require a master’s degree or PhD.
  • Healthcare jobs: Some healthcare jobs, including psychologists and nursing leadership roles, prefer candidates to have a master’s degree.
  • Engineering jobs: Master of science degrees are compulsory for some engineering jobs, such as civil engineering and chemical engineering.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master’s degree?

The highest paying jobs with a master’s degree tend to reflect those which require one, as outlined above, as well as roles within industries that are growing at speed in today’s modern climate.

It is important to note that salaries depend on a number of factors, including where in the UK the role is based and your work experience.

Software engineer

Software engineers are in demand in today’s job market. They design and develop a range of software solutions including computer games, business applications, operating systems, and network control systems. Their jobs combine engineering principles and knowledge of programming languages.

These skills are taught on some computer science master’s courses, and these roles have the average annual salary in the UK of around £52,000.

Data scientist

Data scientists use their skills in statistics and computer science to collect, analyse, and interpret data a fast-growth information technology industry as more and more businesses use data to drive their precision in decision-making.

People are able to pick up specialised skills to thrive in this sector through a tailored master’s degree which combines computer science and data science. Data scientists in the UK typically earn around £55,000 a year.

Investment banker

Investment bankers work with businesses and governments to raise capital and provide financial advice for expansion and improvement. 

Someone with ambitions to work in this field could benefit from a specialised master’s degree in management and finance, and the highest average salary in the UK is £65,000.

Management consultant

Management consultants have specialised business skills to help organisations solve issues, create value, maximise growth, and improve business performance through objective advice.

Individuals hoping to work in this field could benefit from a management master’s degree, or an MBA. The average starting salary for these roles are around £50,000.


Within the legal profession there are a range of roles someone could pursue, and a range of salaries available.

While an LLM Master of Laws isn’t a route to qualification, by studying a master’s degree in law it is possible to deepen your knowledge which could result in higher earnings.

Is a master’s degree worth it?

Whether or not a master’s degree is worth it depends on your individual circumstances and career goals. If you are interested in a career path that requires a master’s degree, such as one in academia or research, then a master’s degree is likely to be a necessary investment. 

However, even if you do not need a master’s degree for your chosen career, it can still be a worthwhile investment if you are looking to increase your earning potential, improve your job prospects, or further develop specialised skills and knowledge.

Factors to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue a master’s degree:

  • Cost: The cost of a master’s degree can vary depending on the university you attend, the programme you choose, and your cost of living. It is important to factor these elements in when making your decision.
  • Time: A master’s degree typically takes one to two years to complete, depending on the programme. It is important to consider whether you have the time and financial resources to commit to Higher Education.
  • Return on investment: It is important to consider the potential return on investment of a master’s degree by comparing the cost of the degree to the potential increase in your earnings and job opportunities.

Make studying a master’s degree easy

The University of Sunderland offers 100% online master’s degrees which have a flexible part-time course design, enabling you to study around your current commitments and full-time work. By learning in this way, you continue to get years of experience under your belt whilst learning the specialised skills that can take your knowledge to the next level. 

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