Online degrees mean that professionals all over the country can retrain and redirect their careers with a freedom that many before did not have. Though it seems silly to put all of our education at the start of our life, this had become the norm. When you started work, you were done with school once and for all, but as times change (and they have changed at shocking rates), it has become more and more apparent that a lifelong learning approach is something that all professionals need to adopt.
For most, lifelong learning can happen right at home, from short courses, to conferences, to workshops, to simple reading. You simply need to stay on top of the latest theory and thought in your field.
Those that work in tech, or those who desperately want to change career paths, however, now have an option that simply wasn’t there before, or at least not easily available. There has long been night school and the ability to take on a degree in the evenings, but this isn’t accessible to many – particularly if you have kids or other responsibilities to think about.Thankfully, all of that is in the past. Now you can focus on your career and get a degree to either push yourself to the next bracket of professionals, or to even redirect your career entirely. You can do all of this with an online degree, but completing an online degree is no easy feat. There is a lot to consider, but this guide will help you understand your options:
Choose How You Plan on Completing Your Online Master’s Degree
The first thing you will need to answer for yourself is how you intend to complete your master’s degree. Online degrees offer a lot of flexibility, but how you take advantage of that flexibility is entirely up to you.
Take Time Off From Work
You can often finish a master’s degree in one or two years, making it far faster and easier to finish when taken on in a full-time capacity. You can even potentially finish it even sooner by taking on more courses at once, but it’s always important to be aware of your limits and what you can handle. If you cannot handle a degree and a job, then you will suffer through both and not succeed at either.
It can be hard to take time off from work, but a good way to consider it is by looking at the return of investment you are looking at when you graduate. If you will be able to apply to jobs that regularly pay over $100,000, then a $50,000 degree is a great investment choice, and taking time off will be worth it in the end.
If you won’t have that kind of return, then try to find an option that allows you to work part-time at both options. This could be done by working freelance instead of full-time and by finding a part-time degree.
Work Part-Time on Your Degree
Alternatively, you can take the minimum number of courses at once, allowing you to often continue to work at your current job while progressing through your degree. This will mean that your degree takes longer to complete, but if you are at a critical point in your career, it can be difficult to turn away from.
You can also showcase what you are learning directly to your employer, and even build up some essential working experience in that new field long before you even graduate. You will have real-world examples of how what you have learned can help and can take the questions you have at work to your faculty to get interesting and specific advice and answers.
There are many reasons to continue to work while you progress through your online degree, but this option is only for those who know they can confidently juggle both at once. If you struggle to handle your responsibilities, your career, and then your degree, then you are only going to fail through all three of them. In this case, it is best to take a step back. Take a sabbatical from work if you can, or even consider quitting, to focus entirely on your degree. You will need to take out a larger loan if you do to cover the costs that your job used to, but when the wage of the job you are hoping to get is higher than your entire tuition, the return on your investment is massive.
Branch Out With The Right Degree
Branching out in your career with a master’s is a great way to excel, but you should pick the right degree to do this. For example, if you currently work in design or in IT and want to earn far higher than you currently do, then a data science master’s degree online can help take your career to the next level. Not only is the field growing, but the average wage for data scientists and associated job roles is all over $100,000 USD, meaning you’ll often earn double what you paid for your education in just one year.
The United States is also by far the best country to be a data scientist, as it is the number #1 recruiter of data scientists. There is a reason why there is a 31% job growth expectation through to 2029 in the field, and that is because more businesses are waking up to the power of data and how few data scientists, analysts, and engineers there are available.
Build the Right Routine
Regardless of what option you choose, you need to be responsible for your routine. Your routine is paramount because a healthy routine will allow you to make steady progress. If you cannot manage your time, then taking on an online degree may not be right for you. You do, after all, need to stay on top of your education without any oversight except for a few emails.
To help you get into the swing of things, try to be productive at the same time every day. You can take fun online courses that are free to start with, so you are used to the extra work by the time you start your online degree.