Corporate communications may be one of the easiest online master’s degrees available, but having that advanced education can make a big impact financially. Over the course of their careers, workers with master’s degrees can expect to make hundreds of thousands of dollars more than those without an advanced degree. The increase in earning potential is particularly noticeable for some of the careers in which students of corporate communications programs most commonly find employment. Between the salary boost from having a master’s degree and the potential for greater career advancement, there are significant economic salary benefits of pursuing a graduate degree in corporate communications.
The Financial Value of a Master’s Degree
How much is a master’s degree in corporate communications worth? In general, having a master’s degree is likely to boost your earning potential by 18 percent compared to peers with only a bachelor’s degree. Over the course of a lifetime, as of 2009, researchers found that workers with a bachelor’s degree reported a median lifetime earnings amount of $2,268,000, but those with a master’s degree earned $2,671,000. To put that into perspective, that $400,000 difference is the equivalent of more than a decade of work at the $39,810 median wage that the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported for all occupations.
Of course, master’s degrees add much more value in some fields and much less in others. Statistically, master’s degrees in fields related to corporate communications have made a much bigger impact than that typical 18 percent boost. As of 2015, the BLS reported a massive wage premium of 38 percent for both marketing specialists and marketing managers with a master’s degree.
Public relations specialists could also expect to earn more if they had a graduate education, the BLS reported, although the wage premium wasn’t as pronounced in this career path.
How a Master’s Degree Affects Career Advancement
Besides the direct benefit a master’s degree can have on your salary potential, going to graduate school can improve your earnings in an indirect way. Your advanced education can help you qualify for higher-level roles in the corporate world, which in turn raise your income potential.
For example, the BLS reported a median salary of $61,150 for public relations specialists. According to O*NET, just 8 percent of public relations specialists had a master’s degree, with the other 92 percent reporting a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of study. Public relations managers, on the other hand, earned a median salary of $116,180, the BLS reported – nearly twice as much as non-managerial PR roles.
There’s a similar distinction between the earning potential of marketing specialists and marketing managers. The BLS reported a $71,570 average annual wage for market research analysts and marketing specialists. For marketing managers, the average annual wage was $149,200, according to the BLS.
A master’s degree isn’t a strict requirement to work in management in a field like marketing, public relations, or another area of corporate communications. Even C-suite roles like chief communications officer don’t necessarily require a graduate education. However, having this advanced education can distinguish you from other candidates for a promotion or a senior-level job role. The fact that you chose to hone your writing and strategic communication skills by earning a master’s degree shows your dedication to your professional development. Many master’s programs in corporate communications also include some emphasis on the development of leadership skills, which can help you impress an employer.
Realistically, a master’s degree alone is not enough to land you a lucrative management role in corporate communications. To get promoted, you need experience in the field, as well as strong writing and communication skills – and an impressive portfolio to prove it.
Is a Master’s in Corporate Communications Worth Getting?
Making the choice to go back to school isn’t easy. Clearly, there’s a financial value to getting your master’s degree in corporate communications. The question is whether this path is the right choice for you. It’s important to look at your current career, your future career goals and your personal life and interests before committing to earning a master’s degree.
Workers who want to advance their careers to challenge themselves or are eyeing a company with better growth potential may be better off earning an advanced degree. If you’re happy with the job role you have now and your company may not pay you more just because you got a master’s degree, you might be happier staying where you are. You should also think about other interests and obligations you have – like raising a family or enjoying a time-consuming hobby – and factor that into your decision of whether, when and on what schedule you might want to continue your studies.
Another factor to consider is that graduate school is expensive. However, as long as you aren’t funding your education with high-interest loans that you’re paying back over many years, there’s a good chance that your graduate degree will pay off financially.