The pursuit of higher education is nearly synonymous with the pursuit of a higher salary. Some students follow their passions, while others follow dollar signs. A lucky few have passions that are also lucrative. Post-graduate degrees can often lead to a better paycheck as long as you choose the right field. The following advanced degree programs will set you on the path to at least $100,000 a year.

TUTORIAL: Financial Careers

Computer Science
The technology field continues to boom, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Graduates with this degree can expect to earn about $111,000 by mid-career. Employment opportunities are high as projected employment is predicted to increase by 27%. There are several options for how to use a computer science graduate degree such as a career as a database administrator, which consists of developing and securing computer databases for companies. Another common application is as a software architect which was listed at number one on Forbes 2010 "Best Jobs in America" rankings. Software architects create software blueprints, do computer programming and use their people skills to serve as a liaison between technology and business. Computer science degree holders also go on to work as information technology (IT) consultants for government and private business.

Engineering
There are several different types of engineers, and most variations of the job provide a sizable wage to compensate for the rigorous journey that it takes to get a graduate degree in this field. Aerospace engineering is one option for grads, with salaries ranging from $51,183 to $110,132. The job entails the development and production of parts for aircraft, spacecraft, high-altitude vehicles and missiles. Chemical engineers bring in $48,534 to $102,706 to research, design and develop products in a wide range of industries from chemical to food and fuel.

SEE: 8 High Paying Jobs That Require 2-Year Degrees

Psychiatry
Graduate students in this sector of the medical profession will spend their careers diagnosing and treating patients with mental illness. Salaries for psychiatrists start at $70,866 and continue to climb all the way to $208,067. The high pay might soften the blow of the large sum spent to obtain an advanced degree in this profession. For example, the cost for medical school, which contains the psychiatry program, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham for the 2011/2012 school year, was $22,128 per year - making the total for four years $88,512.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)
This degree program provides flexibility for careers and the opportunity for high earnings. On average, MBA grads make anywhere from $62,000 to more than $300,000 a year. Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) bring home the most bacon. As the heads of companies, they have the burden of everything from operations and sales to marketing on their shoulders. On the lower end of the MBA payscale, financial controllers make ends meet by preparing financial reports for government agencies, private firms and organizations.

SEE: Alternatives To Business School

Nurse Anesthesia
Graduates from this strenuous advanced degree program make $78,482 to $168,067 in salary. They are essential to the success of medical, dental and obstetrical procedures that require the use of anesthetics on patients. There is a nation-wide shortage of nurse anesthetists, so jobs are plentiful and growth in this field is expected to continue.

The Bottom Line
A post-graduate degree could be well worth the extra time and expense in fields that call for a high-level of expertise and technical skill. Aspiring graduate students should research their desired career path to determine how much an advanced degree would affect their future earning potential.

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