Students say they need the degree to get ahead even if that means starting off behind financially.

Grad students want to believe their student loans are worth it so badly they’ve convinced themselves they need the second degree to land a job.

Although plenty of professional jobs don’t require one, 64 percent of grad students think they need at least a master’s degree to find a professional job, says a joint study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos.

Of course there are plenty of careers in academia, medicine or law that will require higher education. But there are a lot more students.

This could be why almost all (95 percent) of graduate students feel it’s necessary to enter, advance, accelerate, or remain competitive in their field. But for the three-fourths who feel they need it to enter professional fields, it’s simply not true.

Jobs that don’t require graduate school

CareerBuilder recently put together a list of professional jobs that are hiring this year, and another where workers can advance over the next five years. Most don’t require a master’s degree.

“What employers look for is whether you have the core competencies for the job,” says Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.

Ferguson says you can start at a lower position, earn experience, and work your way up the proverbial ladder to a higher paying position; or take your experience and skills elsewhere.

“What is great about working as assistants or in areas like customer service, sales or tech support is that you can quickly build up business acumen while acquiring key skills you can transfer to other types of roles,” Ferguson says. “These jobs are great stepping stones whether you want to move up within that occupation or follow a different career path.”

Some experts would argue that recent college grads should get at least some professional experience before jumping into graduate studies. Most haven’t, though.

In fact most (63 percent) didn’t even wait a full year after getting their bachelor’s degree to continue their education, according to Sallie Mae and Ipsos’ study.

“Graduate students are more results-oriented in their pursuit of a graduate degree, and they expect a return on their investment in the form of a significant jump in their earnings potential,” says Julia Clark, senior VP for Ipsos Public Affairs. “As students increasingly regard having a graduate degree as an educational ‘norm’ for professional careers, it will be interesting to see the extent to which their employers agree.”

Especially after all the money they’ll need to borrow to pay for it.

Beware of student debt

Naturally most students mature by the time they enter grad school and want to get more bang for their buck. What we value is subjective.

Most (80 percent) made their decision to enroll in their graduate college based on prestige, academic programs, location, and even campus culture. That same percentage feels they take more responsibility when making decisions paying for school.

Grad students spent almost $25,000 on average to pay for tuition last academic year. And more than half (53 percent) of it was from loans. Then almost a quarter (24 percent) pay tuition with their own hard-earned money.

On one hand, it’s good they didn’t borrow to pay for everything. On the other, how will they afford to enjoy their lives?

Two-thirds filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid to pay part of their tuition. But, scholarships and grants are harder to come by after undergraduate studies. They only account for 15 percent of much higher grad school costs, compared to 35 percent of undergrad costs.

“It is human nature to plan for what you value, and that includes graduate school,” says Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman and CEO of Sallie Mae. “The overwhelming majority are confident in the financial decisions they’ve made about how to pay for their graduate education.” For now.

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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of Debt.com.

Career and Business, College

employment, get hired, student loans

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Article last modified on February 26, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: How Necessary Is Grad School? - AMP.