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career rescue When is advanced degree needed?

July 29, 2018

If you find your professional growth reaching a plateau and have tried numerous ways to move forward, then seeking a higher degree might be just what you need to jump start your career.

Pursuing an advanced degree when you are working full time takes a tremendous amount of discipline, but most professionals who commit to obtaining an advanced degree tend to benefit from their determination in unexpected ways.

A career wake-up call happens when you find yourself longing for something new or feeling that something is missing. When you’re at the crossroads of where to go next, often pursuing an advanced degree can be the best decision. Higher education increases your knowledge and gives you an edge when transitioning to a new career field.

One of the best examples in realizing that an advanced degree was necessary for a new career direction was from an IT professional following her interests in health care. She had a technical degree and worked with information systems, but was missing the personal touch that health care would bring.

Going from her experience in information technology to health care was a leap that others dream of, yet to change careers, she needed to pursue a degree in nursing. It took her several years of being committed to studying for exams and participating in nursing practicums.

Once she completed the necessary steps and was hired, she kept taking course work that led her to an advanced degree, and today she is a manager leading a team. Without taking the initiative to go back to school and the determination of following through toward a new career direction, she would have remained working in IT, dreaming about “what could have been.”

Going back to graduate school can lead you to meet people who are attracted to the same field.

The adage, “iron sharpens iron” is true, and the more you are exposed to professionals who want to grow and share enthusiasm to learn, the stronger you will be.

Here are some additional reasons that an advanced degree would benefit your career:

• Everyone has a career ceiling they will eventually hit, but you don’t have to stay in a career field without growth.

• You find yourself gravitating toward people who have advanced degrees, you think like them and share a deeper interest in a specific field.

• Your employer gives more consideration to those who have advanced degrees, so without one it would be difficult to move forward in your career.

• An advanced degree sends a message to prospective employers that you are serious about acquiring skills and builds credibility that you could be lacking.

• You need to increase your soft skills, and a higher education provides a learning environment where you develop a broader range of communication skills.

Kimberly Thompson is a board-certified counselor. Send questions to kim@careerrescue.com or Houston Chronicle, P.O. Box 4260, Houston, TX 77210. Visit her blog at www.blogs.chron.com/careerrescue.

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