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Choosing a Graduate Degree Program

Are you thinking about earning a graduate degree but are not sure what field you would like to study? If so, you may want to consider acquiring a master’s or doctoral degree that is related to a field that is expected to grow at a faster than average rate over the coming decade.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined the anticipated rate of growth for all occupations from 2010 to 2020. Below we have highlighted some of these occupations, along with their graduate degree requirements.

Graduate Degrees in Medical Sciences

Medical scientist (excluding epidemiologists) positions are expected to grow at a rate of 36% through 2020, amounting to 36,400 new positions. With a median income of $76,980 in 2012, medical scientists conduct research that leads to improvements in human health.

This occupation typically requires a Ph.D. in the biological sciences. However, earning both a Ph.D. and medical degree, which is needed for clinical work with patients, provides the most career options.

Master’s-level Physician Assistant Programs

Physician assistants (PA) practice medicine under the supervision of a physician and earned — on average — $90,930 in 2012. A graduate school degree is not required to become a PA, but most schools offer graduate degree programs that require students to have a bachelor’s degree and work experience in the healthcare field.

Graduate Degree Programs for Computer Software Engineers

Jobs for computer software engineers (for applications and systems software) are also expected to grow at a fast rate.

Computer software engineers, who earned on average $87,790 in 2010, develop various types of software including business applications and computer games. They must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in disciplines such as computer science, software engineering, or mathematics.

However, a graduate degree, such as a master’s degree in software engineering, computer science, or information technology, may be required for managerial positions.

Graduate Degree Programs for Personal Financial Advisers

Personal financial advisers, whose median income was $67,520 in 2012, evaluate individuals’ finances and help them develop financial plans that incorporate investments, insurance, retirement plans, and education expenses.

Although it is not a requirement, a master’s degree in finance or business administration can help people in this field secure managerial positions, obtain employment in competitive firms, and build their own businesses.

What Graduate Degree Program is Right for You?

Earning a graduate degree is a serious commitment of time and money, so it is important to choose the right field of study.

If you are unsure about which career path is best for you, then learning more about the 20 fastest growing occupations might help you choose a graduate degree that leads to a rewarding and lucrative career.