Many people regularly consider changing careers, only to stall out because they don’t know how to make their goals a reality. But while transitioning into an unrelated career can be intimidating, it doesn’t need to be. As long as you have a solid plan, there’s no doubt you can reach your career goals.
One of the most important things to consider is whether or not you will need to earn a degree in order to pursue the career you’re interested in. While the answer to this question will vary, earning a degree can offer many benefits. Many employers prefer applicants who hold degrees in fields related to their line of work, even if they do not specifically “require” a degree. Likewise, advanced degrees translate into higher salaries and increased job demand.
Are you considering making a career change and looking for a master’s degree that will help you qualify for the job? Below, we look at three master’s degrees that are particularly well-suited for job changers.
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Best Master’s Degrees for Career Change
1. Master of Science in Computer Science
If you are interested in making the transition into a technical career, earning a degree such as a Master of Science in Computer Science can be an excellent way of gaining the foundational knowledge you’ll need for success.
One of the reasons that an MS in CS is such a great degree for career changers is that it opens many lucrative career paths; you aren’t limited to a single job or title, but instead, open to many options. Some of the highest-paying careers that an MS in CS can prepare you for include:
- Software Architect: $126,618 average annual salary
- Software Developer: $107,500 average annual salary
- Security Engineer: $111,691 average annual salary
- DevOps Engineer: $105,017 average annual salary
- Computer Scientist: $106,012 average annual salary
- Mobile Application Developer: $89,225 average annual salary
- Senior Software Web Developer: $112, 875 average annual salary
- And more
Additionally, in earning your master’s degree in computer science you will be able to choose courses covered in any of the three specialized areas—Systems and Software, Theory and Security, and Artificial Intelligence and Data Science—which can be a great way of exploring new areas of technology or developing the skills and expertise that employers are looking for. While there are many potential computer science specializations to consider when looking through these breadth areas, some of the most in-demand include artificial intelligence, computer-human interface, networks, and information security.
If you’re coming from a completely non-technical background, there are MS in CS programs designed specifically for career changers. These programs are structured in a way that quickly teaches you the basics before pivoting to the core curriculum. At Northeastern University, for example, the Align Master of Science in Computer Science includes “academic bridge courses” that prepare you for advanced graduate-level coursework in program design, computer systems, software development, and a range of electives.
2. Master of Science in Data Science
With each passing year, data becomes more and more critical to our society. The businesses that collect the most data, know how to interpret it, and properly leverage it will be more successful in the long term. This new reality in business success makes a Master of Science in Data Science an excellent degree choice for career changers interested in data and analytics.
A Master of Science in Data Science doesn’t just prepare an individual for a single career path. Some of the most in-demand big data jobs include:
- Data Scientist: $117,200 average annual salary
- Machine Learning Engineer: $131,000 average annual salary
- Applications Architect: $129,000 average annual salary
- Enterprise Architect: $150,000 average annual salary
- Data Architect: $118,800 average annual salary
- Data Engineer: $112,500 average annual salary
- Statistician: $89,000 average annual salary
- Data Analyst: $70,000 average annual salary
In addition to high salaries, an MS in Data Science offers increased job demand and job security. By 2025, an estimated 85 percent of companies will have adopted some form of data and analytics technology, and approximately 96 percent of those companies plan to hire new data science staff. These factors all point to a very positive ROI for earning an MS in Data Science.
There are specialized MS in Data Science programs specifically designed for career changers as well. At Northeastern, we offer the Align Master’s in Data Science, which will teach you the skills to harness the power of data, even without a tech background. Two bridge semesters prepare you for the graduate-level coursework that you’ll need to earn your degree, and in just two and a half years, you will have the skills and expertise required for a career in data science.
3. Master of Science in Project Management
If you enjoy bringing a project or initiative from inception to completion, you may want to consider pursuing a career in project management. The field of project management is perfect for anyone with a passion for delegation, organization, and communication. While it’s possible to become a project manager without a degree, earning a Master of Science in Project Management is one of the most efficient ways of learning the ins and outs of the role. It can also help you stand out from the competition who may not have a degree.
Of the degrees discussed here, the MS in Project Management is the one that most clearly aligns with a single job title: project manager. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t have career options. Project managers are employed in virtually every industry, from construction to product design, to pharmaceutical sciences to technology, and more.
Across all industries, project management professionals earn an average of $116,000, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI). The vast majority of project managers in the United States earn between $93,000 and $140,000 per year. By 2027, it’s estimated that an additional 22 million project management jobs will be added worldwide, leading to increased job demand and security.
The mission of the Master of Science in Project Management at Northeastern University is to prepare learners to apply project management processes and arm them with the technical, professional, and strategic expertise necessary for managing projects successfully. With an emphasis on experiential learning, the program provides dynamic opportunities for learners with varying degrees of work experience to practice their knowledge globally and collaboratively while implementing traditional and innovative project management concepts to real-life, complex projects.
A Sea of Options
It’s important to note that while the three degrees discussed above are particularly well-suited for career changers, they are by no means the only options to consider. Regardless of the specific career you are interested in transitioning into, there is likely a degree that can help you quickly learn the ropes and enter the field from a position of strength. Explore our programs today to find the best fit for you.