By Dr. Robert Gordon
Program Director, Reverse Logistics Management at American Public University
After they earn a master’s degree, many people wonder about the next logical step in their education. It is an important question because moving in one direction or the other can certainly change your marketability as a job candidate. The decision also has a long-lasting impact because it certainly limits or increases your career potential.
Key Question: Further Your Career or Go in a New Direction?
The key question to consider is: Do you want to expand your career or do you want to extend your career? Expanding a career offers the potential of moving to a different field. Consider career expansion to be like horizontal growth where you can branch out into different areas. For example, a person with a marketing degree might want to move into project management.
Someone considering career expansion is someone who is looking for a change in direction. You might not hate the field you are in, but you long to go in a different direction. It is not bad to want to move in a different direction; this just means you should look into earning a second master’s degree.
A Second Master’s Degree Opens Doors into New Fields
A second master’s degree can help you advance into a new field because it shows a level of expertise that might not come from just experience. Earning a second master’s in a new field will help open doors so you can move in a new career direction.
Your prior experience might not be in the new field, but the prior experience does show that you have accomplishments in the business world. A second master’s degree in a different field shows that you are dedicated and have experience, and that you are not just a new graduate without any business acumen.
Consider career extension like vertical growth in a field or area of expertise. By extending your career, you become more of an industry expert with a deeper knowledge of a particular field. Career extension can open consulting, teaching or research opportunities.
Considering a Ph.D.
Keep in mind that only about 1% of the U.S. population holds a Ph.D. degree. That doctorate degree sets you apart in a particular career field and shows you to be an expert.
Also, a Ph.D. does not go stale like business experience. Having job experience is valuable, but employers might rank recent experience higher. A person with a terminal degree will always retain that title, regardless of age or profession.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to getting an advanced degree. Consider different aspects of your future when you’re deciding which path is better for you. However, the most important decision is to start toward one of these goals. Keep in mind that obtaining a second master’s degree can take two years or more, while a terminal degree will take three years or more. The sooner you start, the sooner you can complete your new degree.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Gordon has 25 years of professional experience in supply chain and human resources. Robert has earned a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership, an MBA and a B.A. in History. He has authored over 100 published articles, including five books covering a variety of business topics.