10 Top-Paying Careers Requiring a Master’s Degree

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There are many reasons to pursue a master’s degree: to enhance your career, open the door to new opportunities, gain a competitive edge in the job market, build a professional network, and expand your skill set. These may be reasons enough for you to invest in earning a master’s degree, but one other benefit might help you solidify your decision: increased earning potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2021, the median annual salary for those who hold a master’s degree was $26,884 more than that of the average of all workers.1 In addition, many jobs that require a master’s degree command higher pay than those that don’t: nearly half of the occupations listed by the BLS as requiring a master’s have salaries of $80,000 or more. 

Top-Paying Careers Requiring a Master’s Degree  Typical time to complete: Usually or 1 or 2 years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree  Formats: Online, hybrid, on-campus   Most common master’s degrees earned, 2021:  
Business: 202,334 
Education: 153,756 
Health professions and related programs: 142,025 
Computer and information sciences and support services: 54,174 
Public administration and social services: 49,388

In this article, we list 10 top-paying careers that typically require a master’s degree at the entry level, as specified by the BLS. Note that there are a number of careers—some that are often higher-paying than those listed here—that may not require a master’s, but for which a master’s degree might be preferred. This could be especially true for those who have earned an MBA or master’s in a business-related field. Refer to the “How to Become One” tab on the BLS site to learn more about the requirements for a particular career. 

Also make sure to check out our article 10 Top In-Demand Careers Requiring a Master’s Degree.”

1 Computer Support Specialist

Industries with the highest levels of employment in Computer Support Specialists, 2022:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 160,800$59,700
Employment Services43,800$55,230
Management of Companies and Enterprises38,150$62,970 
Elementary and Secondary Schools 35,360 $54,450
Software Publishers 29,570 $70,960 

What They Do:

Provide technical support to computer users; maintain networks

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2032


2 Preschool Teacher

Industries with the highest levels of employment in Preschool Teachers, 2022:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
Child Care Services 290,870$34,480
Elementary and Secondary Schools75,700$53,200
Individual and Family Services 12,530$39,470
Religious Organizations 7,240$40,960
Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS Designation) 6,490$45,140

What they do:

Care for and teach basic skills to children who have not yet entered kindergarten

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2032


3Paralegal/Legal Assistant

Industries with the highest levels of employment in Paralegals and Legal Assistants, 2022:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
Legal Services 263,170$60,570 
Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS Designation) 16,420$61,190 
Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation) 15,080 $76,310 
State Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS Designation) 10,850 $52,900 
Management of Companies and Enterprises 6,890 $84,260 

What they do:

Assist lawyers in conducting research, writing drafts and reports, and maintaining files

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2032


4Radiologic and MRI Technologist

Industries with the highest levels of employment in Radiologic and MRI Technologists, Postsecondary, 2022:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals125,430 $71,260 
Offices of Physicians 40,390 $62,220 
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories 16,060 $70,460 
Outpatient Care Centers 15,050 $81,530 
Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation) 5,980 $78,160 

What they do:

Perform diagnostic tests on patients with equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners; adjust and maintain equipment

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2031


5Dental Hygienist

Industries with the highest levels of employment of Dental Hygienists, 2022:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
Offices of Dentists 203,330$85,110
Employment Services 2,630$88,670
Offices of Physicians 2,080$77,070
Outpatient Care Centers 1,850$86,580
Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation) 870$69,450

What they do:

Clean and polish teeth, look for dental disease, educate patients about oral health

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2032


6Physical Therapist Assistant/Aide

Industries with the highest levels of employment in Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides, 2022:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 44,900 $59,970 
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 17,640 $63,430 
Home Health Care Services 11,810 $78,360 
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) 8,950 $72,800 
Offices of Physicians 4,810 $59,310 

Typical entry-level education

Master’s degree in social work

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2032


7Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 45,770 $84,340 
Offices of Physicians 20,220 $82,890 
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories 8,510 $78,190 
Outpatient Care Centers 3,240 $113,680 
Employment Services 920 $79,550 

What they do:

Conduct tests and create images using sonography equipment

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2032


8Respiratory Therapist

Industries with the highest levels of employment in Respiratory Therapists, 2022:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 97,800$74,240 
Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals 7,720 $72,600 
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) 4,950 $69,770 
Employment Services 3,280 $108,330
Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers 2,490 $63,610 

What they do:

Master’s degree from a physician assistant program

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2032


9Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologist/Technician

Industries with the highest levels of employment in Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, 2022:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
Veterinary and Photography Services 109,230 $40,300  
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 2,850 $47,680 
Social Advocacy Organizations 2,200 $39,310 
Other Personal Services 1,560 $39,180 
Scientific Research and Development Services 740 $62,030 

What they do:

Aid veterinarians in conducting tests, examining, and caring for animals

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2032


10Medical Equipment Repairer

Industries with the highest levels of employment in Medical Equipment Repairers, 2022:

IndustryEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
Elementary and Secondary Schools24,070 $63,790 
Electronic and Precision Equipment Repair and Maintenance 10,770 $59,060 
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 6,630 $71,320 
Rental and leasing services (5322, 5323, and 5324 only) 4,180 $43,500 
Outpatient Care Centers 3,600 $56,280 

What they do:

Repair and maintain medical equipment such as ventilators, anesthesia machines, electric wheelchairs, and hospital beds

Employment, 2022


Projected employment, 2032










Source: https://www.bls.gov/

Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Accessed 8/9/2023. 


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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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