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Top 6 Growing Jobs that Require a Graduate Degree

March 2022

One of the main reasons for pursuing a graduate degree is that it is required by your desired field of study and eventual job prospects just to break into the field.

While the business world continues to hold the most graduate degrees conferred, you do not need a master’s degree to get a job in the business field. However, there are a number of jobs that do require a graduate degree, either a master’s or doctorate, in order to obtain an entry-level position.

The top contenders

While there are a number of jobs that require graduate degrees, here are some of the top occupations predicted to have the most openings through 2026 in numerous field categories:

  1. In the field of community and social service/education, educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors are predicted to have around 35,000 openings per year, but offer a lower median annual salary of $58,120 than other graduate level occupations.
  2. Within the legal field, and despite the adage of there being more law students than lawyers, that occupation is on track to post the most job openings per year through 2026 at just over 40,000 and a median annual pay of $126,930.
  3. The medical field usually maintains steady growth due, in part, to a growing population with growing health care needs. At the top of the list are nurse practitioners with a projected 15,000 additional jobs per year through 2026 and a median annual salary of around $117,670.
  4. In other health care occupations, physical therapists come out on top with the most projected job openings of around 18,000 and a median annual income of $91,000. It's worth noting that the majority of occupations on this list require doctorate degrees, with the exception of speech language pathologists which requires an internship in addition to the graduate degree.
  5. In higher education, becoming a college professor, or postsecondary teacher, in the health specialties category usually requires a Ph.D., but is also projected to offer around 26,000 jobs per year through 2026 and pays a median annual income of $80,560. As the health care field continues to grow, it only makes sense that more students will be enrolling in these programs, from nursing to medical school. And of course, more students mean more teachers.
  6. While a career in computer sciences is a popular STEM career choice, it only requires a bachelor’s degree to qualify for an entry-level position. However, the occupations of medical scientists and psychologists both tie as the STEM fields with the most growth (13,000 jobs) in which a graduate degree is required at the entry level, usually a doctorate degree. The median annual salary for medical scientists is $91,510; for psychologists, it’s $82,180.

Now or later?

The notion of when to apply for grad school depends on your personal life situation. If your goal is to acquire a job in your chosen field right away, then grad school will most likely immediately follow undergrad. If your undergrad degree allows you to work in a related field, you may feel that gaining some experience first is beneficial before attaining the grad degree for your intended career. Creating a profile on gives you access to sophisticated organizational tools that will match you to the right programs and help you keep track of deadlines and communicate with program recruiters.

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