What's the Starting Salary for Someone with a Master's Degree?

The average starting salary for a graduate with a master's degree varies greatly depending on the subject of study and chosen career. Read on to see what your field of interest pays entry-level employees.

Overview of Degree Options

Just a few graduate degrees you can earn are a Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Education (M.Ed.), among many others. Once you complete a program, you can apply for jobs in fields such as science, business, management and education.

Important Facts About Potential Careers

Civil Engineers Marketing Managers Elementary/Middle/High School Principals
Key Skills Organizational, math, and problem-solving skills Creativity, analytical, and interpersonal skills Decision-making, leadership, and communication skills
Similar Occupations Landscape architect, urban planner, surveyor Market research analyst, advertising sales agent, public relations manager Instructional coordinator, preschool director, special education teacher
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 8% growth 9% growth 6% growth
Work Schedule Often 40+ hours a week to meet design requirements and deadlines Full time, sometimes 40+ hours a week Full-time, sometimes weekends and evenings to attend school functions

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salaries Based on Career Field

If you earn your master's degree, your average starting salary will depend on the job position that you choose. For example, earning a master's degree in physical sciences and working as a fish and wildlife manager would earn you a smaller salary than earning a master's degree in the same subject and working in an engineering position. Some of the variations in salary based on specific job positions are listed below.

Science Field

You can earn a master's degree in many areas of science, including biology, ecology, chemistry and engineering. With your degree, you might become a fish and game warden or a fish and wildlife manager. Based on May 2014 salary figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fish and game wardens in the 10th-90th percentile range earned yearly wages between $32,660 and $75,690 (www.bls.gov).

With a degree in the physical sciences, you can also become an engineer. PayScale.com reported that the 10th-90th percentiles salary range for entry-level civil engineers was $44,284 - $71,199 in January 2016. Entry-level electrical engineers in the 10th-90th percentile range made between $50,187 - $82,152 at that time.

Business Field

If you earn your MBA, you can apply for leadership positions that offer relatively high starting salaries. You can find a job as a financial, health services, marketing or technology manager. According to PayScale.com, entry-level financial managers in the 10th-90th percentile range earned between $38,122 and $102,570 as of January 2016, medical and health services managers in the same range earned between $39,206 - $100,043, with entry-level workers making an average of $53,000.

PayScale.com reported that entry-level marketing managers in the 10th-90th percentile range earned between $35,181 and $79,681 as of January 2016. Entry-level information technology managers in the same range made annual wages ranging from $39,128 - $98,017.

Based on PayScale.com figures, having an MBA may increase your earning potential. The website reported information technology project managers who earned MBAs made annual salaries in the 10th-90th percentile range of $72,511-$129,655 in February 2016. Marketing managers with MBAs in the 10th-90th percentile range earned between $51,328 and $110,738. Finance managers with MBAs in the same percentile range earned an average of $120,000.

Education Field

An education M.A. or M.Ed. program can allow you to pursue a job as a school administrator, director or principal. The BLS stated that the 10th-90th percentile salary range for elementary and secondary school administrators was $59,250-$129,300 as of May 2014. High school principals in the same earning range made $53,807 - $119,702 as of January 2016, reported PayScale.com. Entry-level elementary school principals in the 10th-90th percentile salary range earned between $47,876 and $102,324, according to PayScale.com.

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