Adult learners return to school for a variety of reasons. Oftentimes, life gets in the way and causes us to set personal goals aside; however, if you’ve found yourself at a standstill in your career, going back to school may be the answer you’ve been looking for in order to advance within your current career field.
As of January 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported high school graduates with no college earn a median weekly wage of $714 while individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn $1,278. The wage then increases to $3,707 for college graduates with advanced degrees (i.e. professional or master’s degrees).[i]
No matter the industry, employers often expect (and demand) employees to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, developments and industry standards in this ever-changing world. Dr. Aysegul Timur, senior vice president of academic affairs and dean of the Johnson School of Business at Hodges University, is part of Workforce Now, which is a regional research initiative that looks “to identify current and future workforce talent requirements for the five counties of Southwest Florida.”
While viewing recent trends, Timur explains, “Everything is constantly changing from new technology to new skills, which means professional development is becoming one of the routinely planned activities among employers.”
This means earning a degree can lead to advanced skills and knowledge, which will not only help you to better perform in your current position but possibly work to your advantage if you are seeking to advance within your company and/or organization.
As you consider the possibilities of returning to school, let us tell you a few more ways of how earning a degree can be beneficial to advancing your career.
Promotion and Wage Increase
If the average wages reported by the BLS are any indication, it is a beneficial use of your time to earn a degree. Considered one of the most valuable investments an individual can make, the time and money spent on going back to school can lead to advancement opportunities within your industry, which can lead to long-term financial stability.
For example, if you are working as a health information technician in an office, you may be making less than $40,000 per year but you’ve decided your long-term goal is to become a health care services administrator. By earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree, not only will you qualify for higher positions, but your annual wages could more than double, according to the BLS.
Earning a degree can not only lead to higher paying opportunities within your company, but it also makes you more marketable to outside employers. If a company is looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree in a specific area, not only will your degree meet the criteria, but the initiative to strengthen your skill set and meet industry demands will often make a positive impression.
Paul Haisman, who graduated with a Master of Business Administration from Hodges in 2013, was working as the vice president of information technology at the YMCA of the USA when he graduated. In 2016, he accepted the position of chief technology officer with the American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR), effectively moving into an advanced position with a new company. Two months prior to the company being acquired by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), he stepped into his current role as chief information officer.
Timur also suggests that, through her research and talking with employers, more businesses are recognizing micro-credentials, saying, “You don’t have to be in a degree program, but over time you can build skills and earn short-term credentials, and stack them over time. Certificate programs and short-term credit or non-credit bearing programs are important from an employer’s perspective.”
However, Timur does warn a degree is still more widely recognized by businesses, but just because micro-credentialing is new for many employers. Many do recognize certifications and other credentials.
Advanced Skills Knowledge
While career advancement and financial increases may be key factors in your decision to return to school, you should not discount the benefits of learning new information and strengthening your skill set.
Martha Faul, who spent nearly 20 years in law enforcement, is the owner of Justice Investigations Services, Inc. Returning to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in legal studies, she recognized there was a wealth of knowledge that extended far beyond professional experience as a detective. She discovered both degree programs go hand-in-hand, and her decision to further her education allowed her to use the knowledge she was learning in class to make positive change within her own company.
“In our economy, a college degree is the best investment in human capital. It is recession proof; it doesn’t devalue or depreciate. Employers are seeing it as a big investment, as well,” Timur said. “Earning a college degree is intellectual property and an investment; you develop many skill sets and continue to learn how to become intellectually equipped.”
If returning to school sounds like your next course of action, visit Hodges University and speak to an admissions representative who will be able to assist you in determining the appropriate educational pathway for you. Visit www.hodges.edu today.