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Value of an MS Degree?

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Value of an MS Degree?

Postby Justin C » Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:56 am

Hello all,

I graduated a couple of years ago with a BS in biochemistry. From there I worked as a lab technician at an academic institute for ~ 1 year. I really enjoyed the work and the environment, but I was making less money than some friends with high school diplomas.

Seeking higher pay I found work outside of the lab in another industry, where I am still employed now. I don't find the work nearly as rewarding but the pay is better.

I am hoping to move back into the lab but am having a hard time justifying the move financially. Most RA I/II level jobs I find pay in the range of 35k, which would just be too much of a cut for me to take. My question is this; would adding an MS to my name increase my chances of finding a higher paying job at the bench? It seems most advertised jobs list BS OR MS under qualifications, leading me to believe having an MS wouldn't be of much value.

I realize that I will have to find a balance between remuneration and job satisfaction, but I'm looking for advice on how to possibly close the wage gap if I move back to a bench position.

A final note - I've considered a PhD but just don't think the work suits me. I'd rather not spend the 6-7 yrs on a degree just for the possibility of increased wages if I'm not sure I'll enjoy the work.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Re: Value of an MS Degree?

Postby Rich Lemert » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:51 pm

Very often, people view a Master's degree as being little more than an Bachelor's with some more depth. They might credit you with a year or two of extra experience, and it may open a few doors that aren't open now, but I wouldn't expect a great increase out of most companies.
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Re: Value of an MS Degree?

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:46 pm

I agree with Rich. You'll get some additional credit for years of work experience, and you'll have more potential for a leadership role. But it won't be a giant increase in your pay check -- probably just a modest one, perhaps a couple of grand a year.

Dave
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Re: Value of an MS Degree?

Postby Abby » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:56 pm

I have had an M.S. degree in Biotech (focus on immunology/ infectious disease) for almost 10 years now. While I generally agree with the other 2 posters, I do think my degree has opened doors that might not have been opened without the degree. I think I made a transition to industry better with the research experience of a masters behind me. I also think I'm given more opportunity to research a little more independently and present at conferences than a bachelor's holder. With a masters you may be hired at the RA 2 level instead of 1 which might mean more money. I did pay for a lot of my degree myself though.
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Re: Value of an MS Degree?

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:09 pm

That's great input Abby. One nice element of the Forum is that there will generally be people out there, with just that degree, or with just that experience.

It's nice to know that a MS opens a few doors, as you've said. I agree that when job searching, the companies will always go for the maximum they can get, and if most of their applicants have a BS and you have the MS with some research experience under your belt, you are clearly in the "must call" list,

Dave
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Re: Value of an MS Degree?

Postby Justin C » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:11 pm

Thanks for the input everyone. I gather then that an MS may be somewhat beneficial in terms of the added experience, and it may open a few more doors (particularly in industry), but it probably won't do too much as far as pay goes.

As a follow-up question, what should I consider as a best case scenario salary wise as someone working at the bench without a PhD? Say a BS/MS level associate with 10+ years at a company, will they be looking at a ceiling of 50-60k?
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Re: Value of an MS Degree?

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:35 pm

Justin C wrote:Thanks for the input everyone. I gather then that an MS may be somewhat beneficial in terms of the added experience, and it may open a few more doors (particularly in industry), but it probably won't do too much as far as pay goes.

As a follow-up question, what should I consider as a best case scenario salary wise as someone working at the bench without a PhD? Say a BS/MS level associate with 10+ years at a company, will they be looking at a ceiling of 50-60k?


Justin,

We really don't go into specific "salary questions" here because they often don't make sense. For example, a person with a BS or MS working at one company, at the bench, could be earning $55K a year after a decade and at another company, perhaps a different niche or geography, could be making $85K. It' really depends on so many things . . .that's why we don't go for the salary questions here.

Dave
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Re: Value of an MS Degree?

Postby Abby » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:09 pm

Justin- remember that career choice is not ALL about the money. Science is tough (you can see my other posts for some examples) so you have to really like research and want to do it for reasons other than salary.
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