After four years of grueling undergraduate schoolwork, you might not want to see another textbook anytime soon. Dream job, here you come!

But if the thought of job hunting right after college graduation does not appeal to you, graduate school may be the way to go. When deciding if graduate school is right for you, consider the answers to these questions:

1. Is a master’s degree required for my prospective career?

Some professions in the healthcare, science, legal, and academic fields, to name a few, require a master’s degree to work in the field. When specialized training beyond a bachelor’s degree is necessary to enter the field, a master’s degree is paramount.

2. Will a master’s degree help my career?

Many positions require a bachelor’s degree but prefer a master’s degree. If this is the case, completing a master’s degree can greatly increase your success in landing a job within your desired field. Highlighting an advanced degree on your resume can make all the difference when competing against hundreds of applicants for a job interview.

Graduate school often offers opportunities to connect with faculty and professionals in your chosen field. Networking often leads to the best job matches, so the more people you know, the more likely you’ll grow professionally.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of long-term career planning. Explore the academic requirements for various occupations and promotional paths within your specific field. For example, you can pursue a career in social work after completing a bachelor’s degree; however, if you later aspire to be a professional counselor you will have to earn a master’s degree first.

3. Is advanced schooling worth the cost?

Jobs that require a master’s degree often pay more because a higher knowledge and skill level is required to do the work. However, the cost of tuition for graduate school can offset this higher salary. Compare the cost of graduate school, including tuition, books, and academic materials, with your projected salary (www.salary.com) and calculate how many years of employment it would most likely take to pay off graduate school loans.

4. Is now the right time to pursue a master’s degree?

A major factor when determining whether to pursue a master’s degree after undergraduate school is economic stability. During an economic recession, fewer job openings in the workforce leads to greater competition among job applicants… and potential challenges when searching for your first professional gig. However, during a period of economic growth, an increase in job openings can greatly improve a recent grad’s chances of finding gainful employment. If you think it could take longer than two years to secure employment in your field, it might be more advantageous to pursue a master’s degree right after college graduation. This will increase your marketability when the economy stabilizes, and more jobs become available.

Sometimes pursuing a master’s degree before entering the workforce is a no-brainer, and other times an advanced degree is more beneficial after working a few years in your chosen career field. If you want to talk with an academic consultant about your options, schedule a call!