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Do You Need a Master’s Degree?

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In not-so-great news for those of us who feel we’ll still be paying down our student loan debt when we’re too old to remember anything we learned in school, according to Fast Companynearly one-third of employers are upping their degree requirements for new hires. A whopping 27% are now looking for candidates who hold master’s degrees for jobs that previously only required a bachelor’s degree, and nearly 40% are now only hiring those with bachelor’s degrees for jobs that previously went to those with high school-level educations. The reason for this? 60% of employers who were happy to hire high school graduates in the past now claim the same jobs require different skills.

This shift doesn’t affect just high-level employees. 46% of the companies included in the survey said they were looking for more advanced degrees for their entry-level and mid-level employees than they had in the past.

It’s not all bad news, however. A Pew Research study recently showed that though prohibitively expensive, bachelor’s degrees are still, technically, worth the expense. Those holding high school diplomas earn just 62% of what those with four-year degrees earn. Having a bachelor’s degree also increases the likelihood of promotion, according to the same study. This is due to the fact that employers have seen measurable benefits to having those with higher degrees within their ranks.

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Some companies do, however, seem to be acknowledging the fact that regardless of your education level, chances are you’re going to learn on the job. 64% of employers said they plan to hire candidates that have the majority of skills the position requires and that they’ll then train the new employee to make up for whatever skills they lack. So, maybe we don’t need to shell out for our master’s degrees quite yet? According to a recent report on millennials, their student loan debt surpassed $1 trillion by the end of the second quarter in 2014, and yet they make up 40% of the nation’s unemployed. Those stats aren’t exactly a ringing endorsement for education investment and yet we are caught in quite the quandary given how stacked the deck is in favor of employees in the present job market. Those in charge of hiring can likely get whatever level of education they seek for a given position, so we are left to wonder if we should dig ourselves into more debt to up our chances of acquiring desirable positions and/or raises, or if we can take our chances on a bachelor’s degree which has, essentially, become the very expensive modern-day equivalent to a high school diploma. If you’re unsure of which direction to go, here is an argument for the former, as well as one for the latter.

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