People who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college are already doing quite well for themselves. Nationally, only 30 percent of people have a bachelor’s degree. So whether it’s an English degree, a biology degree, or something else, those who make it that far should feel proud of themselves. A bachelor’s degree shows you went to college for roughly four years and met the core requirements as well as the specifics of your degree plan. It should be enough to get your foot in the door at many decent jobs, but there are fields where it won’t be quite enough. That’s a bummer, but if you want a career in one of those fields, don’t let it discourage you.
Social services is one field where hiring managers expect you to go above and beyond a typical four-year education. There are significant reasons for that, too. Choosing to work in social services often means choosing to work with vulnerable populations. You may be investigating reports of abuse and neglect for an agency like Child Protective Services, or you may be screening families to see who needs help buying food under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It makes perfect sense why you would need an MA in social work or sociology in those cases.
Another field where a master’s degree comes in handy and may even be required? School counseling. You’ll be helping kids with personal issues as well as academic ones, which means a master’s degree in school counseling will go a long way towards helping you help those who most need it. You’ll be able to respond to high pressure situations with calm, tact, and expertise. There will also be certain responsibilities you’ll have as a mandated reporter. That means if you don’t report suspected abuse, you could go to jail or at least lose your ability to counsel students. It’s nothing to take lightly, and additional education will help make sure that you treat such situations with the gravity they deserve.
If you want a career in higher education, a bachelor’s degree isn’t going to do it. You will need at least a master’s degree, and quite possibly a doctorate. There’s an intense amount of competition for such jobs, and hiring committees only want the best. They can afford to be picky, since a tenure-track teaching position at a reputable university is considered the holy grail of academia nowadays.
A simple degree won’t be enough, either. If you’re going into biology, for example, you’ll be expected to complete a certain amount of research. The saying “publish or perish” means that professors are expected to get their work accepted by reputable academic journals or risk losing the careers they’ve worked so hard for. Do you want to teach creative writing? You should have a book published, or at least have a book deal signed, ideally with a decent-sized publishing house. Expertise matters a lot when you step on a college campus. The pressure can be withering, and it’s not for everyone, so you have to be ready to push yourself and really show what you can do.