By getting your Masters in Public Administration (MPA), you’ll qualify for a higher salary in your field, since your advance education allows you to complete more difficult tasks and make tougher decisions. But what kind of salary can you expect? Some worry that the cost of getting a master’s degree is much higher than the additional money they’ll make annually, making it an unwise investment in the end.
Let’s first look at the general ability to make more money with a higher level of education. On average, high school graduates make about $30,400 annually, while those with an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree can expect to make an average of $38,200 and $52,200 respectively. With a master’s degree, the average salary jumps to $62,300 annually. That’s a 105% increase over what you’d earn with just a high school diploma! Over a lifetime, graduates of master’s degrees programs make an average of $2.5 million, which is hundreds of thousands of dollars more that you can expect to earn even with a bachelor’s degree.
Speaking in generalities, however, doesn’t give you a precise picture of what you’ll earn with an MPA. Your exact salary depends on your job title of course, as well as other factors, such as location, years of experience, employer type, and company size. According to PayScale, though, the average starting salary for those with MPA degrees is about $40,000. With experience, you can easily make six figures in this career area.
Job title plays a big role in the type of salary you can expect. At the lower end of the scale, a management position like being a non-profit program coordinator comes attached to an average salary of about $45,000. As you work your way up the ranks, you have the potential to earn even more. For example, human resources directors make an average salary of about $75,000 annually.
One of the best parts about getting your MPA is that you have the ability to work in a number of industries. Many MPA programs allow you to specialize, so if money is important to you, take some time to research which industries are most lucrative. In general, government positions are extremely high-paying jobs, but you can also earn high salaries with an MPA in fields like healthcare, finance, and hospitality. Keep in mind that you can get an MPA after working in nearly any field, from engineering to forestry to transportation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a more complete salaries you can expect with specific public administration-related job titles in any industry.
So is going back to school for your advanced degree worth it? In short, yes. Although tuition costs can be high, you’ll be eligible for much higher salaries once you have your master’s degree. Getting this advanced degree also allows you to more easily find a job, as well as qualify for other perks, like better retirement packages, more paid vacation days, and nicer work spaces. Some employers even offer tuition assistance programs, so there’s really no reason not to at least consider getting your MPA.