Obtaining a post-graduate degree can give one a sense of overwhelming accomplishment. It's also the only way to gain access to the highest-paying jobs available. According to Simplyhired.com, the average salary for someone with a post-graduate degree is $57,000; nearly 25% greater than those with a just a bachelor's degree. The top five highest-paying jobs have two things in common: they require a post-graduate degree, and all have starting salaries over $100,000.

TUTORIAL: Student Loans

Sitting mightily at the top of the list, the MBA is the most lucrative and malleable of graduate degrees. Its specialties include business, finance and accounting. It can be applied to any type of management operation. Considering its high ranking, the fact that it requires only a master's degree gives it the highest cost-reward ratio as well. MBA programs have become so popular that they can even be completed online, or by attending school part-time for less than $10,000. The average salary for a management position is $105,000 whereas CEOs pull in an average of $1,352,000 according to Salary.com. (For related reading, see Alternatives To Business School.)

Medical Profession
The medical field has been an in-demand sector for employment for many years, but no medical career path is as grueling and rewarding as becoming a doctor. Obtaining a medical doctorate is a monumental undertaking that requires three to four years of post-graduate study before moving on to a residency program that can last as long as seven years. However, the personal gratification of saving lives and earning a median annual salary of $180,000 is healthy compensation. For those with entrepreneurial spirits, starting one's own practice can bring in well over $1,000,000 yearly.

Law Degree
Earning a juris doctorate degree is the highest degree possible for those seeking a career in law. After three years of law school, one must pass the bar exam in order to practice as a lawyer. This degree is also the most popular for politicians. Legal professionals typically earn $130,000.

Engineering degrees are popular at every level, but obtaining a Ph.D. earns top honors. These professionals cover fields such as computers, chemicals, aerospace and more, but the highest paying sub-specialty is petroleum. While the push for green energy is still a priority, the oil industry is the number one manufacturer of power and shows no signs of slowing down. Working offshore on oil rigs may be a lonely lifestyle, but their annual income of $128,000 gives them plenty of spending money when they come back to shore.

Teachers are usually thought of as being underpaid, but college professors are definitely the exception to the rule. A Ph.D is required, along with original research for most collegiate institutions. An aspiring professor must have more than just a degree to apply for a position. They must have several published writings and experience as a teacher or assistant professor. Becoming tenured is well worth the hard work though because average income hovers around $100,000 annually.

The Bottom Line
Continuing college education at the graduate level is a hefty commitment of both time and money, but the potential payoff can be enormous. When considering what field to study, the quality of the job itself should be considered instead of simply looking at monetary figures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down every occupation by degree requirements and salaries, making it easier to find the right path that combines pay with career satisfaction.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Tips on Building a Resume for a Private Equity Job

    Trying to land a job in the coveted private equity sector? Ensure your resume meets the stringent PE job requirements with these important tips.
  2. Entrepreneurship

    Top 10 Side Jobs You Could Start Now

    Ways to make extra cash in your spare time.
  3. Personal Finance

    A Day in the Life of an Equity Research Analyst

    What does an equity research analyst do on an everyday basis?
  4. Investing

    Career Choice: Bulge Bracket Vs. Boutique Bank

    Bulge bracket banks offer higher salaries and prestige. But boutique banks are rapidly gaining market share and may offer better work/life balance and job security.
  5. Professionals

    The Rich Get Richer: Global Wealth is Rising

    Global wealth is rising and expected to continue. Advisors should know that the wealthy value fee transparency, performance.
  6. Personal Finance

    Careers: Equity Research Vs. Investment Banking

    Equity research is sometimes viewed as the unglamorous, lower-paid cousin to investment banking. In this article, we compare the two careers.
  7. Entrepreneurship

    Elon Musk Success Story: Net Worth, Education & Top Quotes

    Read more about Elon Musk, the South African immigrant turned technology and engineering entrepreneur and inventor worth $13.6 billion.
  8. Retirement

    Why are 401(k) contributions limited?

    Find out why contributions to 401(k) retirement plans are limited, including what the current contribution limits are and how limits encourage participation.
  9. Investing

    7 Reasons You Will Make a Good Investment Banker

    Many seek at the door of investment banking, but few can enter. Possessing these seven traits will help you land a job and succeed in investment banking.
  10. Investing

    7 Reasons Investment Banking Is Not for You

    Even if you possess the education, experience and enthusiasm to land a coveted investment banking gig, here are seven reasons to find another career.
  1. Investment Banker

    Someone working at an institution raising capital for companies, ...
  2. Whartonite

    A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University ...
  3. Advanced Diploma In Insurance

    A qualification earned by insurance professionals and conferred ...
  4. Associate In Personal Insurance ...

    A designation earned by professionals looking for training in ...
  5. Back Pay

    The amount of salary and other benefits that an employee claims ...
  6. Associate In Reinsurance (ARe)

    A designation earned by insurance professionals looking for reinsurance ...
  1. Can I use my IRA to pay for my college loans?

    If you are older than 59.5 and have been contributing to your IRA for more than five years, you may withdraw funds to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can I use my 401(k) to pay for my college loans?

    If you are over 59.5, or separate from your plan-sponsoring employer after age 55, you are free to use your 401(k) to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between AGI (adjusted gross income) and gross income?

    In the United States, individuals pay taxes based on their adjusted gross income, or AGI, rather than their gross income. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the best MBA programs for corporate finance?

    Opinions vary based on which publications you consult, but the best MBA programs for a career in corporate finance are at ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How stressful is the typical corporate finance job?

    In the financial industry, corporate finance jobs are often contrasted with investment banking jobs. The traditional view ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!