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Maybe you’ve applied for every position in your field and cold called a few companies, but to no avail. Being unemployed is stressful, especially if you completed a degree program thinking that an education would open doors. There are benefits to higher education, such as a larger salary and opportunities for advancement. But a degree doesn’t guarantee employment.

Sometimes, the problem is too many applicants in a particular field. Let’s say an area has a large number of recent graduates with teaching degrees, but only a few available positions. Employers may hire a limited number of applicants, forcing other qualified graduates to look elsewhere for work.

But moving isn’t the only solution. Improving your resume and career prospects might require an advanced degree or certificate in another field. Both require additional schooling, but if you receive an advanced degree in a field with less competition or numerous openings, there’s a better chance of securing employment.

Here are tips to improve your career outlook with an advanced degree.

1. Check the job market. Choose a degree in a field with a large number of availabilities. Is there a demand for a particular position in your area – perhaps nursing, computers or business management? Where can you see yourself working? Don’t choose a field simply because of the high demand – make sure you enjoy the work. Job satisfaction is also important, as you’re likely to stick with a position that you like. Consider your passions and select an advanced degree program based on your interests.

2. Select a school with a reputable program. Don’t simply enroll in the same school that issued your undergraduate degree. Colleges and universities have different strengths. And while your previous school may have excelled in your former program, another school may prove beneficial when pursuing an advanced degree or certificate in another field. For example, if you’re consider a business degree, you might apply with the Cardinal Stritch School of Business Management. Do your homework and learn your options before enrolling in a program.

3. Get experience. Experience in your new field can help you land a job after completing your advanced degree. Look into intern opportunities, volunteer work or part-time work. Having an advanced degree in a particular field helps. Work experience, however, can move your resume to the top of the pile.

Money Aspect of an Advanced Degree

An advanced degree or certificate not only improves employment opportunities, a higher degree often results in a higher income. But a higher degree is not without costs. Going back to school for an additional one, two or three years can add up quickly. Depending on your new field, you can add $15,000 or more to your existing student loan debt.

How can you decide the best path? Do the math and assess whether your future income justifies the costs of an advanced degree. How much do you expect to earn after graduating? Are you receiving tuition assistance?

In a tough job market, going back to school can be a wise decision. Don’t accept limited job opportunities. Get proactive and make moves to make yourself employable.

Photo credit: womensdish.com

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