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A master of health care administration is a financial commitment, particularly if you still have debt from your undergrad degree, and it will take a year or two or more. However, there are certain situations when the additional commitment is not only worthwhile, but the best possible career path for you.
You can get a number of jobs in the field of health care administration without a graduate degree. However, some jobs, the academic and management ones in particular, either require a master’s degree or are more accessible to those with a graduate degree. If becoming an associate professor and teaching others about health care administration appeals to you, you need a graduate degree. If you’ve been working in the health care field and want a promotion to a job in management, a graduate degree may be the way to go about getting that promotion.
A higher salary almost always goes hand-in-hand with a higher level job. The graduate degree may open you up to management positions you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get. Managers are paid more on average than lower-level workers. An associate professor’s salary may be more than your current salary, too.
Even if you opt not to change jobs, it’s quite possible that your new graduate degree could be used in an employee evaluation to see if you qualify for a raise. Not only are you more educated than you were when you began the job without a graduate degree and can bring more to your hospital or clinic, but you’ll have greater options. Your employer may recognize that you have the ability to go elsewhere for greater salary, so if they want to keep you on staff, they need to raise your wages.
Whether you’re applying for a new job or you’re competing for a promotion, you need every advantage in order to outshine the competition. It’s quite possible that you’ll seem almost equal to another candidate or two in experience and skills but additional education can provide that advantage necessary to be selected for a position over another applicant.
Although there are health care administration jobs across the country, some high-population areas are more competitive than others. And if you do get a job in these areas, your cost of living will be higher than in a small town, so you’ll need to earn a greater salary. A graduate degree will help your resume stand at the top of the pile, regardless of the number of competitors. Plus, with a graduate degree, you’re more likely to qualify for a higher, livable wage.
If you can afford the additional cost and you have the time, you can pursue a master’s degree in your field simply because you love studying and learning more. Your drive to succeed for success’ sake will make you more likely to stick with the program than if you were aiming for increased salary alone. If your goal is simply to have that graduate degree as a reward for your hard work, then you won’t be disappointed even if you don’t get a better job or salary than you could have gotten with a bachelor’s degree alone.
Plus, with a master’s degree, you have the credentials to publish articles in academic journals. Perhaps you’d like to publish a study based on practices you’ve implemented at your job. If reading and writing health care administration-related articles appeals to you, you may find getting that graduate degree worthwhile.
Wanting greater job opportunities, desiring a higher salary, trying to impress potential employers and a love of academia are all good reasons to pursue a master’s degree. While not all healthcare administration jobs require a master’s and it’s not a good idea to pursue a graduate degree if you’re not fully committed and aware of the financial and time investment, if graduate school is something you truly want to pursue, you don’t need a specific reason. Even if you work full-time, you can earn a graduate degree online in your free time.
About the Author: Elsie J. Lowe is a contributing writer and recent health care administration graduate school graduate. She currently works with a major hospital system in Denver.